COVID has led more consumers to consider the long-term health benefits of food, especially in the natural and wellness space. Food with functional ingredients are becoming a type of medicine to maintain a strong immune system and good overall health. This is discussed in the article below.
“Consumers want more from their everyday products. They want products that give them a satisfactory taste as well as functional benefits,” says Hannah Polk, SPINS Associate Data Product Manager and registered dietitian. “As consumers head into the new year, there continues to be an importance placed on maintaining immunity health. This importance will lead to an increase in products with functional ingredients.”
What Are Immunity-Boosting Functional Ingredients?
Functional ingredients are ingredients that provide a health benefit to shoppers; they are often an added bonus to a product’s primary purpose.
- Water enriched with vitamins or chips that include additional protein sources. Customers concerned with their overall can reach for these items knowing that they’re staying hydrated and also getting an immunity boost.
- Fiber-related sales could see a lift, as probiotics offer shoppers help with their digestive health while also building immunity.
Many immunity-focused functional ingredients saw strong gains in 2020, and they will continue to be popular with shoppers this year as well. Looking at percent growth versus the previous year, Items containing zinc were up 161% and calcium antacid grew 122%.
New Categories for Functional Ingredients
- Plant-based foods are credited with reducing cancer, health disease, stroke, and risk of diabetes.
- Low glycemic and unsweetened foods reduce sugar intake, which can reduce health risks and help consumers
- Microbiome (gut) health is increasingly linked to improved overall health, including immunity, anxiety, and diseases.
- Nutrient-dense diets provide high doses of ingredients like proteins and ancient grains.
Mental Clarity and Overall Wellbeing
Stress is high for shoppers right now, with the ongoing pandemic as well as national politics, the economy, and personal events. Shoppers are looking for ways to tend to their mental wellbeing and limit stress as much as possible.
CBD, melatonin, theanine, and valerian are popular remedies for reducing anxiety and stress and helping with insomnia. For shoppers looking to combat fatigue, boost immunity, and enhance their mood, the go-to ingredients are chaga and reishi mushrooms, ashwagandha, maca, and holy basil. Expect supplements and products containing these functional ingredients to remain popular with shoppers.
“Despite its lack of FDA approval, I think CBD will continue to take off as word of mouth is spreading about the benefits for anxiety, pain, and other ailments,” says Laurel Jakubowski, Data Product Manager for SPINS. “I believe this trend will continue in smaller stores, and restaurants are popping up that add CBD into their foods or baked goods.”
How to Make the Most of Functional Ingredient Trends
For Brands: Evaluate your product offerings for items that offer functional ingredients and address shoppers’ immunity and wellness concerns. You might already be meeting their demand but haven’t messaged it to retailers or shoppers. This mindset is not disappearing anytime soon, so you have an opportunity to meet these needs immediately and in the long-term.
For Retailers: Walk down your food and beverage aisles to ensure functional ingredients and items focusing on immunity and wellness are incorporated throughout a variety of categories. Think about a wellness-focused shoppers trying to fill their cart—both in-store and online.
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