Mintel 2023 Global Food and Drink Trend ‘Staying Sharp’ and Matucci’s discussion at IFT 2023.

According to Mintel’s research, focus and productivity are becoming increasingly sought-after benefits that consumers are looking for in food and drink products. Specifically, 40% of US consumers express a desire for their diet to support healthy brain function. However, when it comes to nuts, seeds, or trail mix, only 32% of US consumers who purchase these products say they would buy more if they were associated with brain health benefits.

Brands have an opportunity to help consumers optimize their mental performance, but there is work to be done. Our research shows that fewer consumers would like their diet to ‘help maintain healthy brain function’ (40% of US consumers) or ‘improve mood’ (26% of Canadian consumers) when compared to more familiar benefits like ‘strengthen the immune system’ (55% of Mexican consumers). Interest in mental and cognitive benefits is modest, but growing. Consumers need encouragement to try these products, creating an opportunity for brands to get consumers excited about brain and mood health benefits,” said Stephanie Mattucci, CFS, Director, Mintel Food & Drink Research.

During Matucci’s presentation at IFT 2023, natural caffeine and B vitamins were highlighted as ingredients that can offer focus, clarity, and support brain health in the next wave of functional food and drink launches.

Alternative caffeine:

In terms of caffeine, it is a familiar ingredient consumed by 55% of US consumers through various products, and 83% of them consume caffeine at least once per day. Concerns about the negative effects of consuming large amounts of coffee have led to the emergence of new sources of caffeine. Ingredients like guarana, yerba mate, and guayusa are positioned as ‘natural caffeine’ and are gaining popularity as alternatives. These sources of caffeine provide sustained energy and are perceived to have fewer negative effects, which can appeal to concerned coffee drinkers. While coffee dominates the caffeine ingredients in brain-supporting launches, new sources offer an opportunity for brands to diversify their offerings and promote them as options that support brain health.

“Consumers value caffeine’s mental energy boost but express concerns about its overall health impact, creating opportunities for new caffeine ingredients and blends that offer sustained energy and fewer side effects. Brands that educate consumers about these less familiar sources of caffeine stand to benefit. Quantifying the amount of caffeine per serving or explaining that blends help reduce side effects and introduce new benefits builds trust and engagement between consumers and the brand,” continued Mattucci.

B vitamins:

B vitamins were also discussed as safe choices for consumers, particularly when associated with energy and overall health. They are widely used in products with energy claims and can further grow by being linked to brain benefits. Mintel’s research shows that nearly half of global food and drink launches with a brain/nervous system claim in the past five years contained a B vitamin. Additionally, two in five global food and drink launches with an energy functional claim included a B vitamin.

“Food and drink brands looking to optimize mental performance ingredients and benefits must first tap into the familiar. Brands need to reassure consumers about the concept of eating for their brain by starting with foods and nutrients consumers know and feel safe consuming. Experimentation with novel brain-boosting ingredients will take time and trust. As consumers become familiar with this concept, they will next turn to food and drink that can support cognition, manage stress levels, and optimize brain function. This presents brands with an opportunity to pair ingredients that can help consumers cope with stress with those that support mental clarity. This leads to a third area of opportunity in the space, harnessing the synergistic power of blends with the goal of reducing undesirable side effects and optimizing cognitive benefits,” Mattucci concluded.

In summary, there is an opportunity for brands to capitalize on the growing interest in focus and productivity by incorporating natural caffeine sources and promoting the brain health benefits of B vitamins in their functional food and drink offerings. Educating consumers about these ingredients and establishing connections with mental performance can help meet the demand for products that support brain health.

IFT 2023
Mintel is thrilled to be back in person at the 2023 IFT First annual event and expo in Chicago, IL. Visit our booth #S4441 to experience live Analyst presentations and innovative product showcases discussing current industry issues like ingredients for mood and cognition, communicating sustainability, weatherproofed provisions, innovating in a time of crisis, and unguilty pleasures. If you’re not at IFT, you can still get access to all the great content shared at the show.


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.

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