Holistic health: what it is and what it means for fine food

18 June 2021, 08:37 AM
  • Independent retailers are in a strong position to cater to the growing demand for food products that boost holistic health
Holistic health: what it is and what it means for fine food

A global movement is underway in the health and wellbeing sector: holistic health. Defined as bringing together physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing, this all-encompassing approach is increasingly gaining traction with consumers.

But what does it have to do with fine food producers and retailers? In its Future of Nutrition, Health and Wellness 2021 report, Mintel has tracked growing interest around the world in food that boosts immunity and reduces the risk of diseases.

“The pandemic has exposed critical truths related to nutrition, health, and wellness and shown that health is both a personal and public concern,” said Daisy Li, associate director at Mintel Food and Drink, APAC.

And as with the majority of today’s most important food trends, Covid has made a big impression. “In the near future, reeling from the impacts of Covid-19, there will be a push towards more holistic health. Nutrition will be used as the foundation for health, both mentally and physically,” Daisy continued.

Food’s role in self care

The businesses behind some of the largest food brands in the world, including Unilever, have noticed this trend, and they’re taking action. “We believe physical and mental health, wellbeing and inclusion are crucial contributors to a wider view of what good health is,” the business said on its website. “This became even more obvious as Covid-19 put increasing restrictions on our social connections and took its toll on wellbeing.”

In the coming years, Mintel predicts that nutrition will be practised as self-care. According to its research, 78% of US consumers say eating healthy is important for their emotional wellbeing. In China, 44% of adults aged 18-59 believe having a good gut reduces anxiety.

“Food and drink brands can tap into the self-care movement, such as healthier options, packaging to support mindful eating or even mood food formulations,” Daisy explained. “Brands can look at a multi-faceted approach to support immune health to help meet consumers’ overarching wellness goals.”

This trend is especially prominent in younger age groups, with research by GlobalData finding that around a third of consumers aged between 18-24 and 25-34 say mood-boosting and relaxation claims are key to their purchasing decisions in FMCG products. “This in turn is driving new innovations in products that claim to aid in relaxation and enhanced moods,” said Carmen Bryan, consumer analyst at GlobalData.

With half of global consumers reporting feeling extremely or quite concerned about their mental wellbeing due to the pandemic, retailers can keep an eye out for new products boasting mood-boosting properties, as well as natural and better-for-you claims in order to cater to this growing demand.

A long-term trend

While trending superfoods and buzzy, good-for-you ingredients change by the year, holistic health is a longer-term trend driving a new direction for producers to create and market products.

Looking forward, concerns around holistic health are also likely to incorporate sustainability. “Over the next five years and beyond, sustainable nutrition and the focus on the environment will become the underlying factors at the core of consumers’ dietary choices and behaviour,” Daisy said. “Consumers’ holistic mindset about health and wellbeing will shift the conversation about healthy diets from ‘better for you’ to ’better for us’. Diets designed to support individual as well as planetary health will be prioritised by consumers.”

These long-term trends play directly into the hands of fine food retailers, whose focus on locally produced food using the best quality ingredients with strong sustainability credentials will be a top priority for consumers in the coming years.

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