The Role Food and Beverage Plays on Mental Health
Mental health is a subject matter that is extremely personal and one that is very difficult for people to discuss openly. Why? There has always been a stigma attached but thankfully, times are changing. In September 2010, Bell launched the “Bell’s Let’s Talk” mental health initiative to help drive awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. Since then, Bell has donated over $139M to Canadian mental health initiatives.[i] Secondly, the pandemic. How many of us during the pandemic felt stress and anxiety, the loss of a loved one, quarantine and isolation? With mental health symptoms surging during the pandemic, many feel nurturing mental wellness has become a collective social responsibility. A study undertaken in 2021 by the American Psychology Association revealed 87% of consumers agreed that having a mental health disorder is nothing to be ashamed of.[ii] “Mental wellness goes hand-in-hand with physical health. When you eat well, get enough sleep and stay active, your emotional health can improve”.[iii] Many consumers have felt the need for self-care with food as medicine. The global wellness market is valued at $1.5T, with projected annual growth of 5% to 10%.[iv]
What is Mental Health?
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood”.[v]
What is the Market Growth for the Wellness Market?
Since 2019, there has been a +13% sales growth in products supporting a food as medicine function. Table 1 breaks down sales growth for food and beverage utilized for mental and physical health [vi]
Drivers of Growth Within Care-Oriented Foods
Brain-mood health and brain health growth outpacing globally other food and beverage health claims as outlined in Chart 1.
Top Active Health Claims Featured in Packaged F&B Launches
(Globally, 12 months ending Q3 2022)[vii]
How Do Consumers Define Wellness?
- Today’s consumers view wellness across six dimensions:[viii]
- Better health: Extends beyond medicine to include telemedicine.
- Better fitness: Many consumers struggling to maintain pre-Covid fitness levels.
- Better nutrition: Consumers seek foods that help them accomplish wellness goals.
- Better appearance: Beauty products / skin care.
- Better sleep: Consumers seeking sleep-enhancing products.
- Better mindfulness: Mediation-focused apps.
The Consumers’ Views Towards Mental Health!
Mental and emotional health has become a top factor for living healthier lifestyles. Innova Market Insights study as part of Vitafoods Insights webinar titled: Brain Heath and Mental Wellness webinar revealed when asked:
- What does healthier living mean to you?
53% of consumers cited “Looking after my mental / emotional health”.
2. What aspects have you engaged in most to live healthier in the past 12 months?
36% of consumers cited “Looking after my mental / emotional health”.
3. What has driven or influenced you to seek a healthier lifestyle?
28% of consumers cited “Concerns over their mental health. [ix]
How are Consumers Taking Control of their Well-Being?
Mental health hasn’t just become a personal priority, but a business one too. Today, 67% of consumers are more conscious of looking after their physical / mental health. Table 2 outlines three ways consumers are trying to take control of their well-being.[x]
As part of Innova Market Insights 2022 global study, they revealed:
- 14% of consumers purchased food and beverages to improve mental focus.
- 10% of consumers purchased food and beverages for brain health.[xi]
What is the Role Food and Beverage Play in Mental Health?
As part of Kerry’s APMEA beverage trends report, three in four consumers believe mental health supports a strong immune system. Forty-seven percent (47%) of global consumers surveyed in the Innova report on mood associate a healthy digestive system with improved mood and emotional wellbeing and 46% believe it can reduce stress.[xii] Amidst feelings of fear and uncertainty, consumers are drawn to products they perceive can help increase feelings of happiness and joy and are seeking solutions through food or supplements.” Consumer interest in the food and wellness relationship also has broadened into seeking products that can improve their mental health. Here are just 3 examples of products conceived for mental health.
Purella Super Shot
The lemon balm in the drink supports relaxation, supports mental and physical wellbeing. Due to ginger, this beverage also supports the body’s immune system.
Wunderground “Brain Child Ground Coffee”
Sourced directly from small farmers in Guatemala and Colombia, the adaptogenic mushrooms, coupled with clean caffeine, promote mental clarity, energy, and memory while simmering stress.
Conceived by the son of late actor Robin Williams, branded as the “Better Mood Company”, the ingredients pea protein, prebiotic vegetable fiber, sunflower lecithin, and medium-chain triglyceride oil, which is billed as “brain fuel” on the brand’s packaging.
The shift in consumer perception towards mental wellness is driving the health and wellness trend of self-care and everyday wellbeing, and is influencing food and beverage purchases. Those food and beverage brands that target consumer health concerns have a promising outlook by providing more natural solutions to address consumers’ needs.
I leave you with this quotation:
“Amidst feelings of uncertainty, consumers are drawn to products they perceive can help increase feelings of happiness and joy and are seeking solutions through food or supplements”.[xiii]
[i] Our Initiative, www.letstalk.bell.ca
[vii] Brain Health and Mental Wellness, Vitafoods Insights Webinar Series, 2023
[ix] Brain Health and Mental Wellness, Vitafoods Insights Webinar Series, 2023
[xi] Brain Health and Mental Wellness, Vitafoods Insights Webinar Series, 2023