IFT FIRST: Consumers embrace foods, beverages promising replenishment, happiness & focus

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/ Adene Sanchez
Source: Getty/ Adene Sanchez

Related tags Ift annual meeting functional beverage

Consumers who turned to functional foods and beverages to help reduce anxiety, improve their sleep and lift their spirits during lockdowns are likely to continue their new habits and rituals as they navigate an uncertain return to offices, travel and in-person gatherings – giving the emerging category staying power and opening the door for more innovation.

According to Innova Marketing Insights, 44% of consumers globally acted during the pandemic to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing – a close second to the 53% who supported their physical wellbeing. And nearly a quarter did so by reaching for food and drink that actively improved their mood and mental wellbeing.

“There is quite a lot of interest in this,”​ Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, said of mood-enhancing foods and beverages at IFT’s virtual annual meeting & expo (IFT FIRST) earlier this month.

According to Innova consumer research​, Gen X consumers are displaying the most interest in these products with an estimated 55% of consumers born between 1966 and 1980 reporting actively taking steps to improve their mental health – especially brain and mood health.

Younger Millennial consumers are more focused on happiness, which 53% report trying to increase, and older Baby Boomers are more interested in retaining metal sharpness and healthy aging, according to Innova research.

Williams noted several fast-moving companies already are rising to meet this demand with new product launches, including Lipton with its Calm Head tea, which launched in Portugal in March, Nubrain’s Brainstorm nootropic water for energy and focus, which launched last November in the US, and The Happy Cookie, which launched in Mexico in June.

Brain health claims lead the way

As illustrated by this assortment, the potential for functional products to address a consumer’s mental and emotional needs are diverse – with some benefits growing more quickly than others.

For example, Innova Market Insights tracked brain health claims on 1.5% of new food and beverage launches in the US in 2020 – up significantly from 0.8% share in 2016 and outpacing the rest of the world, where products with these claims captured 1.1% of new product launches in 2020.

‘Replenish’ is another claim gaining traction, according to Innova data, which tracked about 0.7% of new products launched in 2020 bearing this claim. These products also are growing at a compound annual growth rate of about 18% between 2016 and 2020, according to Innova.

Products promoting mind function and concentration are growing nearly as fast with a compound annual growth rate of about 15% during the same period, and capturing about 0.2% of share of new products launched in 2020.

Finally, products with beauty and happiness claims also have significant potential, claiming 0.1% and 0.5% of share of new product launched in 2020 and growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5% and 15% respectively, Williams noted.

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