The functional food market saw steady growth throughout the pandemic, increasing from about $56.4 billion in 2020 to $61.2 billion the following year. This trajectory is projected to continue, with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 9% through 2030.

It’s not just about nutrients that benefit physical health, though. Consumers are also looking for ways to improve mental wellness through food and beverage consumption. 

According to the 2023 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC), 74% of Americans believe “the foods and beverages they consume have a significant or moderate impact on their overall well-being.” In addition, 60% of respondents admitted to being “somewhat or very stressed.”

The mental health category is about more than stress, encompassing a wide range of conditions, moods, and mental states, so there’s ample opportunity for the food industry to fill specific needs. What can you expect to see in the market for functional foods and beverages that benefit mental health in 2024?


What’s New in Gut Health?

How is gut health linked to mental health? For one thing, the gut is the primary supplier of mood-boosting serotonin, which not only produces feelings of happiness but plays a role in sleep and appetite. The gut microbiome also communicates via the gut-brain axis to “influence mood, cognition, and mental health.”

Keeping the gut healthy and functional is made easier with a diet that features regular use of probiotics, popular in yogurt, kombucha, and pickled veggies, for example. However, current trends are all about incorporating prebiotics.

Found in blueberries, spinach, and a range of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, this plant fiber feeds probiotics so the good bacteria in the gut can thrive. The marriage of prebiotics and probiotics is taking center stage in the discussion about the crossover between the food industry and mental health.


Related: Healthy January Changes How We Approach Eating Year-Round



Functional beverages feature ingredients designed to enhance wellness. This could include physical and mental or psychological benefits. Drinks featuring CBD have been gaining popularity for the last couple of years, but euphorics are the new kid on the block.

This functional beverage category aims to deliver a range of health-conscious ingredients largely devoted to mental well-being. They tend to feature elements like nootropics to enhance cognitive function, adaptogens to balance mood, and botanicals that could offer medicinal qualities while creating attractive flavor profiles.

The resulting sensations could be energetic, buzzy, or relaxed. Euphorics may help reduce stress or offer a way to drink socially while avoiding alcohol.

High-profile brands like Bella Hadid’s Kin Euphorics are gaining attention, but there’s not a lot of competition yet. This leaves space in the marketplace to create unique products that appeal to customers seeking functional beverages geared toward mental health.


Subscribe to In-sight to receive articles and reports directly to your inbox, CLICK HERE!



A member of the nightshade family, the Withania somnifera is a botanical shrub that has long been used in natural medicine. Also known as winter cherry or, more commonly, ashwagandha, this plant contains adaptogenic properties linked to stress reduction and sleep aid. The name somnifera is Latin for “sleep-inducing.”

Clinical trials have shown that ashwagandha extract may reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, along with feelings of anxiety. In studies, participants reported feelings of calm and well-being. It may also improve sleep quality, decrease fatigue, and boost energy, mood, and mental clarity. 

Ashwagandha is expected to see greater inclusion in functional food products in the coming year.


Filling a Niche

There’s still a lot to learn about how foods and beverages impact mental health and wellness, but a better understanding of probiotics, nootropics, adaptogens, and more is helping drive a market that provides consumers with the agency to manage their own health and wellness needs.


To learn more about our products and insights, get in touch with our team at Symrise today, Contact us here! 

Join your peers today!

Get the latest articles, news and trends in the Food & Beverage industry delivered directly to your inbox. Don't miss out! Enter your email address below to receive the weekly in-sight newsletter.


Happy Holidays from Symrise! See you in 2024!

Thank you for reading and sharing in-sight in 2023! We're taking a holiday…

Insights From the StarChefs Panel Discussion in Austin, Texas

As host of the food-centric podcast Flavors Unknown, Emmanuel Laroche knows his…