There’s a transformation happening in food and beverage as Millennials and Gen Z consumers change the landscape of health and wellness in a world disrupted by COVID-19. Consumers are moving away from pharmaceutical products and looking towards food and beverage to support their healthy lifestyles. Currently, 37% of consumers say they are looking for functional benefits from their food and drinks, and by 2025, the global functional foods market size is projected to reach more than $275 billion. Even before COVID, the trend rose in 2019 with a +23% increase in the number of consumers looking for wellbeing functions from their food and drink.
Striving for a sense of holistic wellbeing means constantly trying to find balance while living increasingly busy, stressed and distracted lives. Modern consumers are looking for ways to regain wellbeing by using products, ingredients, and methods to help them calm down, sleep better, or enhance performance in the office, gym, and everyday life. To help find this balance, Symrise Flavor North America developed the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative built on five priority platforms – Back to the Future, Let Food Be Thy Medicine, Natural Power-Up, Blurring Boundaries, and Premium Indulgence – based on data from an engaged a community of early adopters as well as health and wellness experts to develop insight into the dynamic world of functional health.
A Healthy Lifestyle Begins with a Healthy Framework
To build a solid foundation of health, the Initiative is supported by the Wellness Framework within which the five priority platforms sit.
The Stabilizers – Back to the Future, Let Food Be Thy Medicine: Day-to-day diets making the most of what nature has to offer to ensure short and long-term wellbeing.
The Optimizers – Natural Power-Up, Blurring Boundaries: added benefits that can be introduced to one’s diet on an occasion basis as means to achieve a specific functional goal
The Gratifiers – Premium Indulgence: 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 challenges, extra health boosts, and occasional indulgences, Symrise Flavor North America’s Healthy Lifestyle Initiative, includes a synthesis of the key trends and direction of change within this landscape. The end result is a library of flavors and ingredients connected to each platform and tailored to different product categories.
Symrise Flavor North America’s Top 5 Priority Platforms
Back to the Future
Consumers are increasingly looking to the past for answers on what to eat and drink with focus on pure and sustainable products and natural ingredients that have survived many generations. They are less interested in modern innovation and moreso interested in bringing back the importance of primal produces that carry ancient wellness knowledge and are known sources of vitality and wellness. A big category is therapeutic spices, like ginger and turmeric, considered for their ability to help fight off disease. Consumers are turning towards apatogens, ingredients that support the body’s natural ability to deal with physical, and mental stress, like ashwaghanda and reishi. Ayurvedic ingredients, spices and seeds are considered sacred gifts from mother nature, are also making a comeback, with ginseng and maca root trending in beverage, especially, for their energetic and preventative properties.
Let Food Be Thy Medicine
As the world heals from the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are paying more attention to the ingredients in their food and beverage choices that serve as alternative medicine sources. Millennial and Gen Z consumers are more interested in functional ingredients than older consumers as they may be more informed about the ingredient benefits than their older counterparts. These consumers are seeking food and beverages with ingredients that are health-promoting, with a specific interest in immunity-boosting ingredients such as Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits. One example is rangpur lime, a hybrid between the mandarin orange and citron, which is used as a unique citrus twist in specialty drinks and dishes. Antioxidants, like those found in elderberry, are especially seen as the healthiest functional ingredients. Brands and restaurants are responding by developing recipes with immunity-boosting ingredients, such as ajwain for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
In a fast-paced, stressful world, consumers are looking for natural ways to both safely hone their focus and relax through their food and beverage choices through flavor “book ends.” Consumers seek to energize and calm themselves naturally while reaping the benefits for physical performance and mental clarity and creativity. Alternative natural sources of energy, like wheatgrass and spirulina, are being used as a caffeine replacement, as well as nootropics or Psycho-active focus foods, like ginkgo biloba and Siberian ginseng, are being used as a natural way to help focus and increase productivity. On the opposite end, sleep-inducing warm drinks like chamomile tea and golden milks are trending as natural nightcaps to wind down at the end of the day—herbs and botanicals that help both lift and calm mood. Here, teas run the gamut in this category for beverage, with mixes incorporating matcha and mint serving as natural energizers and calmers.
The Healthy Lifestyles Initiative addresses how the boundaries between pharmacy/beauty products have become blurred with that of the food and drink aisle. Whereas the pharmacy aisle used to be distinguished by the wide selection of vitamins and supplements, these ingredients have become buzzwords on food and beverage products. Symrise Flavor North America’s research has found that consumers now expect vitamins and functional ingredients to be seamlessly integrated into their everyday food and beverage consumption. Your brands are now faced with the opportunity to provide flavor and taste solutions that add an element of functionality inspired by pharmacy and beauty products.
An important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is leaving a little wiggle room for pleasure. Consumers are looking for healthy ingredients in interesting new flavors, experiences, and formats that afford them health benefits while tasting like a reward without the guilt. Flavoring dishes with tinctures of herbs and spices, like hemp oil and hibiscus, help elevate the appeal of bland, savory healthy foods while natural syrups and sugar, like maple syrup and coconut syrups, act as an alternative to satisfy a sweet tooth. Pleasure is also about providing delicious alternatives and making inaccessible dishes available to those with less inclusive diets who have a fear of missing out. Plant-alternatives live at the intersection between health, sustainability and experience, and alternative dairy especially, like almond milk and oat milk, make indulging in a sweet treat once off-limits available once again without the pain or guilt.