Consumers want specific health and wellness benefits in their products in 2023, study finds

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Dive Brief:

  • Consumers are looking for specific health and wellness benefits from their food and beverages, placing that above sustainability, according to Tastewise’s 2023 trend report.
  • New flavors in both condiments and desserts are increasing in popularity, with consumers looking for functional floral and botanical tastes. Traditional Latin American beverages also are likely to see a bump in 2023 — especially if they’re tied to familiar flavors in the U.S., like strawberry and melon.
  • While health and wellness and international flavors have been trending in food and drink for years, this report shows preferences are evolving and consumers are zeroing in on specific niches that interest them.

Dive Insight:

Through its sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithm, Tastewise can capture a unique pulse of what consumers are interested in right now.

Instead of looking at data from the past, such as sales or surveys, the company takes insights from more than 22.5 billion social media interactions, more than 5 million online recipes and more than 4.5 million restaurant and delivery menus. 

The trend of consumers looking for detailed functions in their food and beverages has been on Tastewise’s radar since earlier this year. According to the report, it’s no longer enough for products to be “healthy” or “functional.” Nearly one in five Americans (18%) name specific health benefits they want in their products.

Tastewise sees specific opportunities for companies to not only specialize in functionality added to food and drink, but to play up different functions consumed at various times of the day.

For example, shoppers are looking for options that give them energy in the morning and help them sleep after dinner time, the report says. Condiments and seasonings also are being looked at for their functional benefits, including the antioxidants in datil peppers and vetiver.

Even in energy drinks — a category defined by its function — Tastewise found consumers are looking for more specific health dimensions. Protein and brain function-boosting claims have grown by about a third in the last year, and claims of nootropic ingredients and nostalgic experiences are emerging, according to the study.

More consumers are specifically interested in food and drink to improve female health, with 37% more women looking to food and drink for health needs in 2022 than a year earlier, the study found. Much of this interest comes from women seeking menopause support, which saw interest surge 97% from a year ago. Flaxseed, which is considered especially beneficial to women’s health, was among the biggest beneficiaries, Tastewise found. 

While many brands are looking to push sustainability, especially in the plant-based segment, Tastewise found personal health trumps planetary health.

According to the study, consumers talked about health 12 times more than sustainability when eating plant-based foods, and choose plant-based options for health reasons 16 times more often than the environment. However, Tastewise found interest is building in sustainable ingredients produced using practices such as regenerative farming.

This could be helpful to plant-based brands, especially as they work to regain sales momentum.

If they position themselves as being better for health, that could spur more enthusiasm from consumers — something especially needed now since prices for plant-based products are still at a premium and inflation is causing consumers to be more cost-conscious. Beyond Meat is taking this path, recently partnering with the American Cancer Society on cancer prevention research.