Beyond the physical aspects of health, the isolating and inhibitive nature of lockdown has raised awareness of mental wellbeing. Mintel predicts that in the future, consumers will take a more holistic approach to their health, with this outlook increasingly governing their behaviours. There are opportunities for the food industry to consider the holistic angle of health, offering support with social and mental wellbeing, as well as physical health. Some consumers in Europe seek functional food and drink that supports their emotional and mental wellbeing. In Germany, 21% of consumers eat/drink functional food/drink to relax or reduce stress, and 18% to maintain healthy brain function, for example.
Tiredness is a key area of wellbeing that producers can offer consumers support with, as for example, 61% of French consumers agree they often feel tired. Support with children’s intellectual development, and support with different cognitive functions such as memory functioning or concentration are other areas of mental wellbeing for which consumers may seek support.
Caffeinated beverages are often the ‘go to’ solution for relieving tiredness and delivering ‘mental energy’, but producers can consider botanical ingredients and micronutrients that support energy without the negative image that is sometimes linked to caffeinated energy drinks.
As the boundaries between supplements and functional food and drink blur, claims linked to mental and emotional wellbeing may start to grow in ‘new’ categories such as functional waters. Producers can consider ingredients linked to ancient or herbal medicinal systems, as well as more established micronutrients, to deliver products that consumers link to psychological health.
In future, producers should consider linking mental and emotional wellbeing with related areas of health for holistic solutions. Energy drinks targeting gamers or students could also feature eye health claims, as consumers may be concerned about the impact that ‘screen time’ has on their eyes, for example.
Lifestyle activities such as exercise, yoga and even forest bathing are activities that are often linked positively with consumers emotional and mental wellbeing. Producers can support these activities with functional products such as ‘yoga waters’, or they can take inspiration from activities like forest bathing. Forest flavours or ingredients could grow or emerge in functional food and drink for relaxation and tranquility, for example.
Emma Schofield will be presenting on Mental wellbeing: Opportunities for functional ingredients for mood and cognition at Vitafoods Insights Virtual Expo, 10 May.