woman doing yoga

Stress, Sleep, and Mental Health in a Post-COVID-19 World

While the pandemic has been a trying time, one bright spot is that many consumers are becoming more conscientious about their health—including their stress levels, sleep habits, and mental health. Here’s a look at how food and supplement manufacturers can support these growing needs. 

Beyond Immunity

Immunity has been top of mind for consumers around the world since the COVID-19 outbreak began. But with lifestyles turned upside down seemingly overnight, we’ve learned there’s a lot more to staying healthy than just a healthy immune system. FMCG Gurus’ recent COVID-19 survey1 found that the majority of U.S. consumers are still concerned or very concerned about the economy, job security, the ability to pay monthly bills, and the health and wellbeing of loved ones—underscoring the toll the pandemic is taking on mental health. 

immunity webinar

COVID-19 Driving Consumer Awareness of Total Wellbeing

As consumers’ routines have been disrupted and worries have increased due to COVID-19, there has also been a growing awareness by many consumers of their impacts on mental wellness. For 67% of U.S. consumers, COVID-19 has made them more conscious about their mental wellbeing.2 In addition, 33% are more conscious about their sleep health, and 30% are more conscious about their daily energy levels.3

This more holistic view of health that includes aspects of mental wellness has been encouraged and reinforced by a variety of sources—from public health experts to online fitness coaches to lifestyle bloggers—throughout the pandemic. This focus has helped shift the dialog around health, encouraging more reflection and self-care.

woman sleeping

New Awareness May Lead to Healthy Long-Term Habits

For many consumers, the awareness around mental wellness has not only prompted proactive behavior changes in the short term but is likely to lead to positive long-term habits. Evidence comes from FMCG Gurus’ survey which asked consumers who engaged in proactive healthy behaviors more frequently in the past month if they would continue to do so after COVID-19 had passed. Of those concerned U.S. consumers, 63% think they will continue looking to improve their sleep, while 58% plan to continue reducing their stress levels.4

Growing Interest in Functional Food and Supplements for Support

Functional beverages and food, in addition to supplements, can play a key role in supporting consumers’ efforts to stay balanced during the pandemic and beyond. Among U.S. consumers who sought out fortified/functional food and beverages with health-enhancing ingredients more frequently in the past month, 54% think they’ll continue to do so post-COVID.

Furthermore, 35% who had turned to food and beverage options to enhance mood plan to continue.6 For those who had increased their supplement use to boost overall health, 38% expect to keep it up after the pandemic is over.7

Functional Ingredients Associated with Mental Wellbeing

To meet this growing need, products focused on mental wellness have been emerging across the globe, particularly those addressing stress relief. Adaptogens such as ashwagandha, Rhodiola, reishi mushrooms, and holy basil, which are included in certain traditional healing systems, are popular as they are perceived to help the body adapt by increasing its resistance to mental and physical stressors.

bowl of sticks

Functional ingredients consumers associate with calming or relaxation like CBD and L-theanine are also in demand in supplement and functional food and beverage products. Other ingredients such as tryptophan and magnesium have been studied for potential improvements to both mood and sleep. Products to support mental wellbeing are still a relatively untapped area with much more that can be done.

Toward a Healthier Future

As we move toward a post- pandemic world, manufacturers have an opportunity to help support consumers’ burgeoning interest in healthy, balanced living by offering them the functional ingredients they’re seeking. From our health beneficial bioactive ingredients portfolio to our functionally optimized dairy-based proteins and our expertise in custom premix solutions, we have the knowledge and know how to help you develop your next ‘total wellbeing’ focused product formulation. Collaborate with us to see how we can help you meet the needs of today’s evolving consumers.

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References

1-7. FMCG Gurus. COVID-19 Survey – February 2021.

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