Mood food for mental wellbeing – how can the industry capitalise?

Consumers have always turned to food during uncertain times. But when we once turned to indulgent, nostalgic foods as a coping mechanism, there’s a trend among consumers today to seek out more natural, healthier solutions and trend watchers are noticing more food brands looking to innovate with botanicals, adaptogens and similar ingredients as more consumers take an interest in their mental wellbeing.

“What we’re now seeing is that consumers are re-evaluating that. Instead they are turning to products with functional ingredients that are healthy that can help aid relaxation,”​ said Mike Hughes, head of Research and Insights at FMCG Gurus.

We’re also seeing changing attitudes to mental health – with the stigma once attached to it disappearing. It’s expected this fact will continue to fuel demand for food and beverage solutions for mood and mental wellbeing.

EY Global Consumer Senior Analyst Jon Copestake added there’s scope for food companies to widen their offerings to appeal to customers seeking foods to improve their mood. 

“We’re seeing a lot more foods for allergies and gluten free but we’re still seeing largely dietary foods focussed on calories we’re not seeing particularly a huge amount of products that focus specifically on mental wellbeing,” ​he said. “What we’re still seeing on supermarket shelves isn’t substantively changing.”

Why the lines between supplements and food are blurring 

More ingredients companies are noticing the trend however and attempting to move from targeting the supplement industry to food formulators.

Spain-based Nektium for example has expanded its botanical ingredient portfolio into the food and beverage sector for the first time. The move means that its clinically researched, branded plant extracts are now available for use in a wide range of applications beyond supplements, including sports and energy drinks, dairy products, gummies, and cereal bars. Its portfolio includes the adaptogen Rhodiolife. This is extracted from the rhodiola plant, which grows in the cold Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, and which has been shown to help improve cognitive health such as improving anxiety and…

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