Food for Body and Mind

November 2021

Consumers increasingly seek functional benefits beyond the nutritional component of food. This report focuses on opportunities in the mental wellbeing space, a topic of growing importance in a world beyond the pandemic. It analyses consumer health concerns and habits and explores functional ingredients and their health benefits. The briefing features latest product innovations and takes a deeper dive into brain/memory health, cognitive performance, and mood food/stress management.

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Key Findings

Mental wellbeing has become a top priority for consumers in a post-pandemic world

Many consumers have experienced stress, anxiety and mental health problems as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Mental wellbeing will be a lot more talked about in a world beyond the pandemic. Consumers actively engage in a holistic concept of wellbeing, seeking natural food and beverage products that meet the purpose of not only providing a nutritious solution, but benefits to the mind too.

Functional ingredients become a new value driver

There is a whole wave of new product launches making use of functional ingredients to tap into the mental wellbeing space. Blends of superfoods, adaptogens and nootropics gain popularity and promise to boost brain function, memory and mood.

Brain/memory health positioning to be combined with life stage nutrition

Brain/memory health traditionally has a strong prevalence in baby food and continues to inspire product innovation in this field. Future opportunities and growing interest are seen in the consumer segment of seniors/ageing population where memory health is of growing concern.

Nootropics in support of cognitive performance propel product innovation

Cognitive performance is another feature sought after by consumers. More and more consumers are eager to choose food and beverage products with nootropic properties that promise to increase mental focus.

Consumers seek natural solutions to manage stress and mood

Pill fatigue and the natural trend are key drivers of consumers increasingly leaning towards food and beverage products with functional ingredients that help to uplift mood and reduce stress. Companies explore different strategies to promote those benefits including the use of the gut-brain axis, botanicals and CBD edibles.

Promising future Outlook for mental wellbeing space

Despite challenges to succeed in the mental wellbeing space, there is growing interest from consumers and companies in products with benefit for the mind. Mood Food and Stress Management hold the strongest potential in the medium term.



Taking a 360 ° view to approach the mental wellbeing space
Key findings

Consumers’ Quest for Mental Wellbeing

Mental wellbeing drives health perception in our post-pandemic world
Stress, anxiety and sleeping problems are immediate health concerns
Stress affects sleep behaviour
Consumers make different attempts to improve their state of mind

Functional Ingredients and Health Benefits

Functional ingredients in support of cognitive and mental health thrive
Superfoods revert to their ability as natural brain boosters
Botanicals and fungi drive cognitive focus benefits
Adaptogens arouse interest for their stress reduction properties
Dairy and snacks with potential for applications of botanicals
Consumers increasingly search for functional ingredients on the web

Supporting Brain/Memory Health

Brain/memory health claims have a prevailing position in baby food
MFGM inspires milk formula innovation trying to close gap to breast milk
Natural/traditional solutions to treat memory issues arouse interest
Japanese dairy producers introduce products acting as brain juice

Targeting Cognitive Performance

Nootropics represent an emerging niche in the food and beverage space
Natural nootropics inspire product innovation around mental focus
Nootropic products targeting the eSports community

Mood Food and Stress Management

Seeking authenticity Generation Z is most demanding for natural solutions
Innovative ingredient solutions create opportunities for food industry
Gut-brain connection to support promotion of mood food
Adaptogens arouse consumer interest and inspire product innovation
Superfoods and adaptogen blends for the right consumption occasions
Consumer curiosity and evolving legislation pave the way for CBD edibles
Sleeping problems create demand for calming and sleep aid products
Lines continue to blur – candy meets supplements


Personalised nutrition offers expected to shape future direction
Challenges to overcome
Future Outlook


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