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Immune health and relaxation: natural opportunities for responding to consumers’ needs
Health and wellbeing have taken centre stage for consumers all over the world, so it’s no surprise that people are looking for ways to support their immune system. And today’s consumers are increasingly filling their shopping baskets with immune-supporting herbal teas, breakfast bars, yoghurts and fruit juices. For example, according to Givaudan’s recent EAME ‘Food for Health’ study , 89% of European consumers are interested in consuming functional food and beverages.
Take a quick look round any supermarket and you’ll soon spot labels such as “rich in antioxidants”, “contains a blend of soothing herbs”, or “made from organic chamomile to help you to unwind”. The message is clear: consumers are seeking products that support immune health and relaxation, the natural way.
So, what’s driving this change?
The stress-sleep-immunity connection
A recent Gallup poll revealed that more than one-third of adults worldwide experience daily stress . At the same time, half of consumers are dissatisfied with the sleep they’re getting. Add to this the fact that in the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says stress levels have risen, and it’s easy to see why once niche meditation and sleep apps such as Calm and Headspace recorded a 25% surge in downloads at the start of the pandemic.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to get sick. They are also more likely to have a longer recovery if they do get sick. That’s because during sleep, the immune system releases the cells needed to fight inflammation and infection. On the other hand, a poor night’s sleep can cause low antibody and cell counts, leading you to feel run down and exposed to sickness.
Healthy mind, healthy body
Consumers are aware of this connection, so they are taking a more holistic approach to health. In February 2021, FMCG Gurus reported that 57% of global consumers had looked to improve their mental wellbeing in the last 12 months in order to improve immune health. During the same period, 41% looked to relax more for the same reason.
Consumers believe that taking care of their mental and emotional health helps the body to fight viruses. Conversely, they associate stress, anxiety, fatigue and a bad diet with poor physical health.
In their efforts to stay healthy, many are turning to functional food and beverages rather than supplements. According to Givaudan’s research, this is because functional food and beverages are perceived as “more natural” and “better for health”, and consumers are also curious to try new products.
Together, these two trends are the driving force behind the rising demand for products that support immunity and relaxation, from vegetable juices to yoghurt shots.
Did you know?
● 60% of global consumers have become more concerned about their immune health, with 3 in 5 increasingly looking for food and beverage products that support their immune health.
● 59% of global consumers are interested in products that help them relax and unwind.
● Interest in immunity and stress reduction has increased among US consumers due to COVID-19, and these are now the two main concerns.
Challenges for food and beverage brands
However, consumers expect more than just wellbeing benefits from their food. They are also looking for natural ingredients: according to Innova Market Insights, staying “in tune with immune”, including a stronger interest in botanical ingredients, is one of the top trends for 2021.
At the same time, clean labels and recognisable, responsibly sourced ingredients are a must. Manufacturers need to focus on transparency, traceability and sustainability, as well as science-driven innovation, to build trust.
On top of this, consumers are seeking more variety and excitement from food experiences. This means new and even personalized delivery formats. Beverages such as iced teas, waters and juice drinks continue to be top drivers for demand, while shots, dairy and plant-based dairy alternatives are also gaining traction. As ever, convenience is key.
“The surge in demand for food and beverages that support immune health, promote stress relief and good sleep is not just a passing trend; these changes are here to stay,” explains Romain Thevenot, Global Product Manager, Botanicals for Food & Beverage, Givaudan.
Good for me, good for the planet
Givaudan’s portfolio of bioactive botanical ingredients for immune health support and relaxation unlocks the best of nature, to deliver great-tasting food experiences that ‘do good’ for body and mind. Part of the company’s ‘Health’ offering, which includes Health Essentials and Wellness Essentials, these extracts are designed to deliver the intuitive or scientifically proven health benefits that consumers are looking for.
Ingredients for immune support
Covering a wide range of botanicals, Givaudan’s Health Essentials ingredients are backed by science to deliver specific health benefits.
Acerola cherries are one of nature’s richest botanical sources of vitamin C, boasting 50 to 100 times more of this essential nutrient than orange or lemon. As a highly standardiz ed source of naturally occurring vitamin C (up to 34%), Givaudan’s Acerolife is cultivated responsibly in Brazil, on small scale farms focused on maintaining biodiversity.
Zinc is also essential for normal immune system function. Produced from fermented koji culture in a proprietary process, Givaudan’s Ultimine Zinc is an excellent source of this mineral. Known as the ‘miracle mould’, koji is a wholefood that has been used for over 2,000 years in Asian cuisine to make products such as soy sauce and sake.
Of course, the gut also plays a vital role in the immune system. Along with green tea and ginger, oat is one of the top three ingredients that consumers associate with gut health. This is backed up by science: cereal fibres found in oat bran have been found to increase the diversity of gut microbiota, yielding a healthier microbiome. Givaudan offers a beta-glucan-rich range of premium oat bran ingredients called SWEOAT, extracted from high-quality oats grown in Sweden, in accordance with sustainable agricultural practices.
Ingredients for relaxation
Givaudan’s Wellness Essentials botanical ingredients and infusions are rooted in traditional uses that offer an authentic-tasting wellness experience.
Lavender, an icon of the Mediterranean region, and chamomile, a sacred herb since ancient Egyptian times, are the top two botanicals that consumers associate with relaxation and sleep. With verified sensory signatures and stability, Givaudan’s sustainably sourced lavender and chamomile infusions can be used in still and sparkling beverages, hot drinks and more, allowing for consumer-friendly “infusion” labelling.
Another ingredient that consumers associate with relaxation is passionflower. Native to America, this elegant flowering plant has been used for centuries for its connection to calmness and sleep, and remains a popular choice for teas. Givaudan’s passionflower extract is sustainably grown in Italy and France, with full traceability and minimal environmental impact.
The future of food
Consumers’ changing priorities and habits are opening up opportunities for brands to create food experiences that do good for body and mind, and are good for the planet, too. From choosing the botanicals with the right benefits, to defining a flavour signature and enhancing visual appeal, Givaudan provides support throughout the entire innovation process.
Join us on a botanical journey to bring authentic wellness experiences in food and beverages.
Learn more here
 Givaudan: EAME ‘Food for Health’ study, February 2020 (6,000 18 to 50-year-olds surveyed in France, Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and the UK).
 Gallup 2019 - Global emotions report
 FMCG Gurus: What’s Next for Immune Health in 2021
 Innova: Top Ten Trends for 2021
 FMCG Gurus: Beverage Trends in 2021 - Global Report
 Givaudan: Wellness Benefits - Phase II - North America consumer research, 2020