In a new world where the global pandemic changed attitudes towards food, medicine, and health, there has been a shift in consumers’ need for functional health-and-wellness-focused foods and beverages. Millennials and Gen Z consumers, in particular, are transforming the landscape of health and wellness by moving away from pharmaceutical products and towards food and beverage to support their healthy lifestyles.
By 2025, the global functional foods market size is projected to reach more than $275 billion. In the United States, our primary research here at Symrise Flavor North America found that 37% of consumers are looking for functional benefits from their food and drinks – which is a 23% increase since 2019. Through engaging with early adopters and health and wellness experts, we developed an in-depth initiative designed for our clients to best enter and thrive within this wellness-focused market and gain a rich understanding of what ‘healthy lifestyle; means. Our initiative provides guidance on the most relevant spaces and biggest opportunities for your food and beverage brands to leverage across key categories, both now and in the future.
The healthy lifestyle framework can be broken down into three tiers of food and beverage:
• Stabilizers – day-to-day diets making the most of what nature has to offer to ensure short and long-term wellbeing;
• Optimizers – added benefits that can be introduced to one’s diet on an occasion basis as means to achieve a specific functional goal; and
• Gratifiers – mood enhancing, comforting, exciting and appealing products that can satisfy cravings and provide sensorial pleasure without guilt.
Using this framework of day-to-day diet stability, extra health boosts, and occasional indulgences, laid the foundation for our Symrise Flavor North America Healthy Lifestyle Initiative. This includes a synthesis of the key trends and direction of change within this landscape and five priority platforms with specific flavors and ingredients tailored to different product categories.
5 Priority Platforms for Innovation
There are five top priority platforms that outline the most relevant opportunity areas for brands to embrace for the Healthy Lifestyle demographic. These five opportunities are Back to the Future, Let Food Be Thy Medicine, Blurring Boundaries, Natural Power-Up, and Permissible Pleasure.
For a population slowly recovering from a global pandemic, attitudes towards healthy consumption have changed as more cautious consumers are now seeking out ways to boost their immunity and general wellbeing naturally. The Let Food Be Thy Medicine platform explores this trend of consumers paying more attention than ever to the ingredients of their food and beverage choices as alternative medicine sources, which they are finding with foods lauded for centuries as healthy. This connects well with the Back to the Future platform, where consumers are gravitating towards brands that are revisiting the benefits of ancient remedies and giving them a new life in a modern, wellness-focused era. It's all about bringing back primal foods and ingredients with a new modern twist for long-term prevention and immunity-boosting ingredients associated with fighting disease and sickness, cleansing, anti-inflammatory benefits, and gut health. Trending ingredients include spices and seeds associated with Ayurvedic medicine as well the lesser known Ayurvedic ingredient, Maca root, also known as Peruvian ginseng.
The rise in interest of Natural Power-Ups, as well as Power-Downs, is a response to modern life feeling demanding and overwhelming with motivation low and insomnia high for many. Consumers are increasingly looking for products that can help performance on both ends of the spectrum to bookend their days, whether that means a fast energy buzz or deeper focus for work or better sleep. With wellness top of mind, however, they’re seeking this boost to energize themselves naturally and reap the benefits, without the side effects of chemically altered energy supplements. Ingredients for quick powers ups and wind downs include alternative natural sources of energy that are being used as a caffeine replacement, such as wheatgrass or spirulina, a type of blue green algae, and herbs and botanicals, like mint or matcha, to calm the mind at the end of the day.
Even those embracing wellness and a healthy lifestyle need a little indulgence. The Permissible Pleasure and Blurring Boundaries platforms explore different ways a healthy lifestyle can be interpreted and innovated with a little wiggle room. Categories traditionally associated with “healthy indulgence” use alternative ingredients to recreate the look, feel, and taste experience but without the detrimental health effects. When it comes to the distinction between pharmacy/beauty and the food and drink aisle, lines are being blurred by consumers who now expect vitamins and functional ingredients to be seamlessly integrated into their everyday consumption. This opens up brands to opportunities to provide flavor and taste solution alternatives that add permissibility and functionality to products that already have appeal and universal accessibility. Indulgent yet better-for-you ingredients include natural syrups and sweeteners to satisfy sweet tooths, like maple and coconut sugars.