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Whether healthy food has always been part of your shop’s USP or you’re new to adaptogens and nootropics, products which offer a health or wellbeing boost should be on your radar this year. If you’re wondering which trends are really worth stocking, look no further.
One of the stand-out trends in health food since the pandemic arrived was food and drink that contributes to a healthy immune system. What will immunity’s next evolution look like? “Whilst immunity became an ongoing concern for many people during 2021, now we are all much more in tune with the need to protect our immune defence and gut health, and we’re more than happy to see immune-supportive ingredients incorporated into the everyday products that we pick up off the supermarket shelf,” said Mandy Saven, director of consumer lifestyle at trends intelligence experts Stylus.
“Now that consumer focus firmly sits in the realm of immunity maintenance, we will continue to see products that feature fermented ingredients, as well as new ways with fibre that have previously been overlooked,” she said. Drinks are a great place to start. Cater to the alcohol-free crowd by stocking sophisticated adult beverages with added benefits, like PiQi, a range of sparkling kefir water drinks which claim to offer immune-boosting benefits.
As Mandy mentioned, a big part of the growing health and wellness trend is products aimed at the gut. Indeed, the global digestive health market is expected to be worth nearly $72bn by 2027.
From fermented foods like kimchi to live-cultured beverages like kombucha, countless food and drink brands are driving awareness of the importance of gut health with innovative new launches. Big names in the independent retail space like Planet Organic are leading the way here, but there’s no reason for smaller indies not to get involved too.
Start small – you don’t have to create a whole new gut-health-themed shelf from the get-go. Straightforward products that make gut health accessible, like Bio&Me’s new Strawberry Gut-Loving Prebiotic Yoghurt, which is created by Megan Rossi, The Gut Health Doctor, offer a nice entry point for newcomers. Plus, Euromonitor estimates that immune support claims in yoghurt and sour milk products grew 24% globally in 2020 – it’s a trend that’s only going to grow.
Never heard of adaptogens? They’re simply herbal remedies that help the body counteract stress. It’s safe to say that the pandemic years have been stressful for many, so it’s no wonder customers are seeking out these products. Look out for those aimed at aiding anxiety or sleep. “CBD or adaptogens such as magnesium and zinc that are understood to help bodies improve their natural resistance to stress will do well [this year],” said Paul Hargreaves, CEO of fine food distributor Cotswold Fayre.
For example, OHMG has launched what it says is the world’s first drink containing three types of magnesium, which helps reduce anxiety, support concentration and aid sleep. Elsewhere, drinks brand PEAK has launched a range of Mood Drinks featuring ingredients that target relaxation, focus and vitality. One of these ingredients is ashwagandha, which Stylus’ Mandy says is “everywhere right now.” But, she continues, “I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Classed as an adaptogen, ashwagandha is most known for helping with management of stress. With anxiety, depression and stress levels at record highs, this ingredient has become a go-to for product developers.”
Saffron is another ingredient to look out for. “Saffron is being increasingly linked to better sleep, an issue for so many people as the pandemic – and all the stressors that it brings with it – lingers on. We’ll see saffron spring up in all sorts of product development,” she said. “US supplement brand Asystem’s wild berry sleep gummies feature saffron extract Safr-Inside, alongside melatonin, L-tryptophan, terpenes, chamomile and passionflower.”
With specific ingredients in the spotlight, Jason Bull, managing director at Eurostar Commodities, says retailers should keep an eye out for any ‘clean label’ products. “Consumers are focusing increasingly on the ingredients that are within products, and more importantly the functionality they have,” he said. As the health trend begins to link into the sustainability trend, this will only be more prevalent. “We are, as a nation, becoming more determined in our efforts to eat cleaner and to eat more sustainably, and ridding products of E numbers while retaining functionality and quality is a constant goal. It will be an ongoing trend for 2022,” Jason said.
Innovation has erupted in the low and no alcohol space, making it one to watch over the coming year. “Propelling this forward is heightened concerns around obesity and weight management, as well as the ongoing desire to live a balanced and health-focused lifestyle that staves off illness, maintains immune defence and retains a clear focus,” Mandy said.
Considering most low and no alcohol drinkers are alcohol moderators rather than abstainers, why not try stocking lower-ABV drinks. Look for products that still have a health angle, like Breadrin, a low-alcohol, fermented Kvas, an eastern European beverage that’s brewed traditionally with rye bread and raisins, which consumers can drink as an alternative to beer.
Explore more of the health and wellbeing trend in our January issue, which you can download for free here.