Consumers are turning to food and beverages as an important component of balancing physical and emotional health. With many people working from home and social distancing during the pandemic, the need to focus on physical and mental health is as important as ever. 

As a result, functional food ingredients that support better sleep, reduced stress and improved focus are in-demand and driving product innovation. Flavor ingredients leader T. Hasegawa USA finds that younger consumers in the Gen Z and Millennial categories are driving the growth for functional ingredient food/beverage products. According to research, more than 40% of those surveyed confirm interest in and purchase of at least three or more food/beverage products that claim to provide functional benefits. 

Specifically, consumer interest in food/beverage products that support immunity has accelerated during the pandemic. It’s no surprise that consumers young and old are more interested in ways to support their immune system than ever before. Product innovation containing immunity support claims only grew slightly over the past five years, but significantly accelerated since COVID-19.

Lesser-known immunity supporters like elderberry and thyme are giving brands access to both trend-seekers and also consumers looking for unique flavors and experiences. 

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