Preparing For The Next Normal - Renew Me

The onset of a global pandemic has shone a spotlight on some of the underlying health crisis's and issues facing people today from stress, anxiety, mental wellness, diet, digestive issues and more. We're understanding that our bodies are our most precious asset and can no longer taken for granted – health is the new wealth.

Gut Instinct:

For the last couple of years gut health has been a topic on everyone's mind and has definitely driven the surge in popularity for many products such as kimchi, kefir, kombucha and pickles which are all said to be rich in 'good' bacteria. Dr.Mega Rossi recently spoke at our 2019 trends event where she stated 'gut health is more than just a trend - it's redefining how food impacts our health and happiness - from fibre reducing the risk of heart disease to helping with depression.

There is currently an increasing amount of research being carried out on the interaction between the gut and the rest of the body, though it is clear that a lot still needs to be understood. It is however, becoming somewhat obvious that our digestive system is far more impactful that we historically gave it credit for – what happens in the gut directly effects the brain and vice versa through the microbiome-gut-brain-axis. Not only is maintaining a healthy gut key for general wellness but also for immunity support. We expect the conversation and opportunity to develop around 'health equals immunity support' to gain traction. In addition, foods that provide the gut with good bacteria, pre, pro and post biotics will evolve, as well as the value the fibre plays in the gut health equation.

Mental Wellness:

Prior to COVID-19 mental wellness was being widely and openly discussed however since the pandemic struck it has become a core issue with depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia being immediate concerns. There are however, so many other related issues that are continuing to come to light such as, PTSD, drug / alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

Recent government data shows that over 80% of adults are actually worried about the affect Coronavirus is having on their life, with more that 50% saying it is impacting their wellbeing and anxiety levels. Research also suggests that the number or depression, insomnia and anxiety prescriptions are also on the rise globally.

The routine around food and drink is a key part of mental wellness to help with a sense of control and purpose. The mundane of daily / weekly meal planning suddenly has a new sense of importance in a COVID and post COVID world. Having a balance of nutrition, diet and exercise can contribute to mental wellbeing but so to can the occasional treat and reward.

There is definitely a long road ahead when it comes to learning what impact lockdown and COVID-19 will have on our mental health. As an industry we have a responsibility to help and support consumers to engage with food in a way that boosts mood and promotes positive mental wellness; from growing your own, feel good cooking, baking alongside nostalgic foods, flavours and formats.

Satiating Sleep:

Even before the pandemic there was extensive concern that our modern lifestyles, which can be full of stress and of course screen time, were causing sleep deprivation. There was a definite surge in products hitting the shelves to promote a good night's sleep… everything from 'stress reducing' teas to meditation apps and sleep monitoring mattresses. We must remember that sleep is a widely accepted essential to staying healthy, calm and sharp however we are only just scraping the surface to understanding The power of Sleep!

Daily issues and stresses are further heightened in the midst of a global health crisis which has brought sleep deprivation to centre stage. We expect even more consumer interest in technologies and products that promote healthy sleep as well as a boosted interested in supplements and traditional sleep aids. There has also been a huge rise in consumers using techniques for stress reduction and relaxation which can be done at home – meditation, yoga and exercise are proving popular.

In food and drink we expect the opportunity to continue to develop around ingredients and combinations that promote a better quality of sleep. We predict product propositions with higher levels of melatonin and magnesium in a multitude of formats including snacks, supplements, milks, teas, chocolate, ice-cream and shakes to name a few. Think fruits like cherries and bananas also green vegetables, avocados, moringa, Ashwagandha and lavender to name a few.

Fortified & Functional:

We are currently living in a world, where more than ever, consumers want their food and drink to have a little something 'extra' about them. In the current climate consumers are preoccupied with the best way to support a healthy immune system in addition to staying fit and recent research from Global Data found that 73% of consumers find products with added nutrients appealing.

Recently, shelves are bursting with labels listing ingredients such as collagen, CBD, protein, fibre, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and companies shouting about 'super foods' in their products just won't measure up anymore. It is however, not just supplements or 'invisible' extras that are being pushed, there are also certain fruits / vegetables being flaunted for their nutritional benefits: cherries, Aronia and elderberries for example are known for their antioxidant properties and also mushrooms (Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion's Mane, Maitake) which proponents believe can help with anything from energy to beauty.

CBD & Me:

There is no denying that last year was a huge one for the CBD industry. As cannabis consumption became legalised in more places around the globe and moved ever closer to the mainstream, there was innovation in the CBD sphere and a huge increase in new products coming to market. Whilst the onset of COVID-19 has absolutely obstructed finances for many start-ups and innovators, there are still numerous companies selling cannabis and CBD products; for instance, UK brand Trip, who sells CBD drinks and oils, has actually reported a 300% increase in website traffic engagement since 23rd March.

As we've mentioned, stress, anxiety and sleep troubles are increasing for many people at the moment; Anxiety UK says that its helpline saw a 364% increase in calls throughout the last week of March. Whilst there is still a lot to be learnt about CBD, its purported health benefits include anxiety and stress relief, so there is undoubtedly still market potential. This has been maintained by the fact that that dispensaries in cities where cannabis has been legalised, including California and Amsterdam, have been deemed essential and permitted to stay open alongside supermarkets and pharmacies.

In this article we've highlighted the shifts that are likely to persist during and post pandemic through the lens of renew me. In a world where 'health is the new wealth' we expect to see opportunity around gut health linked with immunity, food and drinks that support improved mental wellbeing and sleep quality, foods that naturally provide mood enhancing, as well as immunity supporting benefits. By considering these shifts and how you as a business, brand, start-up or entrepreneur, pivot and adapt in consideration of them, will mean that you're well positioned to succeed in the next normal in food and drink.

In article 5 we'll be looking at the health and wellness mega trend 'don't damage me' through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic and the longer terms shifts that we expect to see manifest.

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