“Enhanced cognitive function and a focus on mental health aren’t entirely new, but we think we will see in terms of 2018 growth specifically around terms like … neuro-nutrition,” which will include benefits from nootropics as well as adaptogens and CBD, Jessica Hochman, lead content specialist with SPINS, said during a recent webinar outlining the company’s 2018 predictions for the food and beverage industries.
Brent Coons, director of natural insights at SPINS, agreed that “cognitive function is back in full force,” and he suggested that this time around consumer interest in adaptogens, nootropics and CBD will act as a two-way street between the food and beverage industries and the herbal supplement space – giving both industries a boost.
“I have been watching two sides of this. One side, where it is more of the ancient herbal practices helping drive innovation in food and beverage categories beyond just tea and functional chocolate, which we have seen over the last few years, and I also like the sign of the renewed interest in herbal supplements as a whole and especially around tinctures,” he explained.
For example, he said, traditional herbal supplement standbys, including ginseng and mushroom, are now finding their way as adaptogens into packaged foods and beverages where a new set of consumers are discovering them for the first time. Once they become familiar with the ingredients, they may be more willing to seek out higher concentrations on the supplement side.
Other adaptogens that are gaining popularity are ashwaganda, which is featured prominently in a number of applicatinos, including Amazing Grass’ Brain Elixer, which also includes medicinal mushrooms and chocamine extract from cacao for improved cognitive function.
Blue Buddha organic tea also features the ingredient in a more conventional beverage format that pairs it with fruit and floral notes, Hochman said. Another examples of conventional beverage with adaptogens are Four Sigmatic’s powdered coffee and coco, which also include other rising ayruvedic ingredients, such as amla and shilajit.
CBD treads a fine line
While the legality of CBD may not be fully resolved between the states and federal government, manufacturers are bringing it to market through new innovative avenues to help meet consumer demand for its mood-related effects, Hochman said.
For example, she said the ingredient is promoted for its stress reduction and anti-anxiety properties in KickBack Cold Brew coffee, which blends CBD and organic shade growth single-origin coffee. It also shows up in more traditional supplement formats, such as in HempFusion’s cannabinoids supplement for digestion, sleep and stress functions. It even appears in confections, such as Earthshine Organic’s Relax chewing gum, marketed for anxiety-relief.
“I would say we are definitely in the early days of CBD and cannabinoids in general, and I can’t help but wonder if cannabinoids are the next probiotic in a strange way in terms of that human health aspect,” added Coons.
Nootropics expand into sports nutrition
Finally, nootropics are gaining traction in part from the popularity of the bullet proof diet and biohacking, resulting in ingredient combinations aimed at balancing and enhancing emotions and the mind, Hochman said.
Ingredients like B12, artichoke leaf extract, rhodiola and l-theanine will start appearing in more products – especially refrigerated beverages and non-supplement categories, Coons added.
“Another area to watch this is while nootropics focus on enhancing mental function, we are seeing this cross over into sports nutrition, which is certainly a growing area of the store connecting the mind and body to greater performance,” Hochman noted. She added that this connection is being fueled in part by the rising ketogenic diet.
Other ingredient combinations to watch in this space are turmeric and black seed oil in 2018, she added.