Consumers are taking a more proactive approach to managing well-being with functional nutrition, close-to-nature ingredients and foods that signal self-care.

That’s according to the ingredient company ADM, which recently released a list of five behavior shifts that are inspiring innovation and creating opportunities for food, beverage and supplement companies.

“Health and wellness remain at the forefront of the global conversation,” said June Lin, vice president, Global Marketing, Health & Wellness at ADM. “The pandemic has transformed how consumers perceive holistic health and wellbeing. It’s impacting how we live and increasing the importance of the foods, beverages and supplements we choose, presenting new opportunities for our industry to meet their needs.”

ADM cited FMCG Gurus research showing that 60 percent of global consumers are planning to improve their overall health and wellness in the next 12 months.

Five health and wellness behavior shifts

ADM has identified five health and wellness behavior shifts that are creating opportunities for manufacturers to create innovative, health-forward foods and beverages that support consumers’ evolving health and wellness needs:

1. Renewed motivation to improve individual health and wellness.

Pandemic experiences have varied across the globe, but a nearly universal takeaway is the renewed focus on preventative health and wellness behaviors. For example, 76 percent of global consumers say they will eat and drink more healthily due to COVID-19, and 41 percent plan to be more physically active, ADM said, citing FMCG Gurus research.

Products designed to optimize physical health and mental wellness at all life stages will help consumers protect themselves, their families and their communities.

2. A holistic approach to managing the mind-body connection.

More people are embracing their emotional well-being, as 51 percent of global consumers are planning to improve their cognitive and mental health over the next 12 months, ADM said, citing FMCG Gurus.

A desire to keep their physical and mental health in balance is promoting new techniques to manage stress, from exercise and meditation to eating foods with perceived mood-enhancing benefits. As consumers return to more active lifestyles, convenient products with functional ingredients that boost energy, enhance cognitive performance and regulate mood are gaining prominence.

3. Tailored nutrition supports personal health and wellness goals.

Nearly two-thirds of global consumers are interested in foods and beverages that are customized to meet their individual nutrition needs, ADM said, citing FMCG Gurus.

A greater understanding of how diet can impact health is spurring more people to choose wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients in home-cooked and prepared meals, with particular focus on fiber and protein. Brands can help people stay motivated in the kitchen with innovative flavors and convenient formats.

4. A proactive perspective on immunity.

With 65 percent of global consumers more concerned about immunity since COVID-19, people are shifting from a defensive approach against illness to one that’s more proactive and holistic, ADM said, citing FMCG Gurus.

Consumers are looking for ways to incorporate immune function-supporting solutions, like probiotics and vitamin C and D, into their daily lives. Products with functional ingredients that support a healthy immune system will increasingly attract consumer attention.

5. Purposeful indulgence is the new “permissible indulgence.”

During the pandemic, many people gave themselves permission to consume indulgent food and beverages as a form of self-care. In fact, 56 percent of global consumers have purchased comfort food regularly as a result of COVID-19, ADM said, citing FMCG Gurus.

Consumers are recognizing as long as these are purposeful — and not impulsive — choices, indulgence has a role in a positive relationship with food. ADM projects new opportunities for beverages, snacks and confectionery products that deliver functional benefits with delicious flavor.

Consumer focus on sustaining health and wellness through nutrition may likely become an enduring behavioral change, even after the global pandemic is over. ADM responds by helping food and beverage companies develop customized solutions to meet evolving consumer needs for healthier living.