Mental Wellbeing Support Ingredients in Demand


With anxiety and other mental health concerns on the rise, consumers want products that can help them feel calmer and happier 

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KerryDigest Fast Facts:

  • Mental health is a concern for a growing number of consumers, and many are seeking solutions in the form of wellbeing support from foods and beverages.
  • A number of ingredients are suggested to support mental health, from stress relief to mood balancing.
  • As brands investigate opportunities, there are a variety of mental wellbeing-supporting ingredients and formulation strategies to be considered.

KerryDigest Full Scoop:

As the modern view of health becomes increasingly holistic, health-conscious consumers are looking for products that support wellness on multiple levels. Many people already believe that sleep, digestion, metabolism, inflammation and energy can be improved through nutrition. With an increase in pandemic-related mental health problems such as stress and anxiety, consumers are turning to food as a way to influence mood and support mental wellbeing, creating new opportunities for brands across applications.

Worldwide, more than 320 million people experience depression and more than 260 million have anxiety disorders according to the World Health Organization. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), up to 24% of people in Latin America suffer from mental or neurological disorders each year, including psychosis, depression and anxiety, among others. As talking about and managing mental health gains more mainstream acceptance, brands in Latin America and beyond have an opportunity to create functional food and beverage products that deliver mood and mental wellness support in addition to taste and nutrition.

A growing expectation for foods that support mood

In response to COVID-19, many people are trying to improve their health and strengthen their immune system through behavior changes including physical exercise, a balanced diet and mental health care. As more brands release functional products, consumers are actively seeking out foods and beverages that provide structure-function benefits and support.

Included in that trend are products that help combat anxiety and stress and provide mental agility and energy. According to research by Mintel, in Brazil 56% of consumers are interested in vitamins or supplements that are perceived to benefit mental well-being while 73% say their physical and mental well-being are equally important. Around 80% of Latin Americans are actively looking for ways to reduce stress.

Perceived needs for mood and mental well-being vary across generations and by gender, with younger women paying increased attention to "mood foods" and women in general seeking out customized nutritional solutions throughout their life cycle.


Strategies and ingredients for supporting mood and mental wellness

We recently reported on creating functional beverages using three key ingredients:

  • a well-known “welcome mat” ingredient that may attract a customer to a product
  • a “halo ingredient” that provides a perceived health benefit to the product
  • a “hero” ingredient to add scientifically-backed support

This same approach can be used to craft a product that is positively associated with supporting mood and mental health.

Consumers already link some functional “halo” ingredients to mental wellness. For instance, according to proprietary Kerry research, there’s a common consumer perception that Omega-3 fatty acids and ginseng may support general brain health, melatonin and chamomile can offer sleep support, coffee and green tea may enhance energy and lavender and green tea can help with mood management.


There’s also a growing interest in the broader topics of “adaptogens” and “nootropics”, terms entering the consumer vocabulary as shorthand for ingredients believed to help the body cope with physical or mental stress (adaptogens), or improve aspects of brain function such as memory, focus or mood (nootropics).

To learn about some of the science-supported ingredients that may be considered for used in mental health and wellbeing products, read the Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute’s article, “Food & Mood: Exploring the Science Behind Nutrition’s Role in Mental Wellness.

As recipes are being proposed, it’s important to include functional ingredients at a sufficient level to deliver the functional support benefit and to use ingredients that meets local legal and regulatory specifications. As the category evolves, we anticipate seeing increasing guidance and labeling enforcement, such as recently issued warnings in the U.S.

To learn more about our support of mood and mental wellness food and beverage insights and solutions, contact us.

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