The journey towards optimal health is not exclusive to physical wellbeing; what we put into our bodies directly contributes to how we feel. In fact, as many as 66% of UK adults believe that what they consume directly impacts their emotional wellbeing[1]. From sleep-inducing teas, focus boosting juices and anxiety-reducing drinks, these products are packed with health-enhancing botanicals and promises of disease prevention.

The pursuit of wellness in the COVID era has boosted the increased consumption of functional foods. Tastewise, a start-up which uses AI and machine learning to identify food and beverage trends, has reported a staggering growth in internet search from consumers seeking food-based wellness support. From unwinding with CBD to regulating the gut with probiotics and kombucha, staying healthy has never been so important.

CBD:

CBD infused drinks provide the wellness benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive component. Proven to be a lifeline for many epilepsy sufferers, CBD can relieve sufferers of chronic pain and arthritis and has shown a promising potential to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia. Traditionally sold in oil-based infusions, product innovation has fueled the growth of the cannabis industry.CBD infused products are now part of one of the fastest-growing wellbeing categories in the UK[2] and are expected to be valued at 1bn by 2025, . With 49% of Millennials using CBD to help with stressed caused by the pandemic[3], CBD infused drinks are set to become a major beverage trend in 2021.

Nootropics:

Effective at improving mood and cognitive function, nootropics are the latest beverage trend to hit the ground running. Referred to as ‘smart drugs’,  nootropics are supplements which are purported to enhance brain power.They have found a consumer base in those looking to increase their mental performance while combating the energy slump commonly found with coffee and energy drinks. Having increased 37% in sales last year, nootropics are set to continue their growth in 2021 and make their mark on the UK market.

Kombucha:

With a clear link between the health of the gut and the overall health of the body, the kombucha trend continues to thrive. Kombucha contains  live bacteria which promotes food digestion and contributes to the overall functioning of the immune system and is now a $475 million industry in the US. Taking the US by storm, sales of kombucha are growing at a faster rate than any other soft drink[4], up 21% on last year[5]. Boosted by the fermented food trend, kombucha remains a favourite for millennials who favour traditional food and drink processing methods[6]. Internet searches for kombucha have risen 73% month on month from February 2019 to March 2020[7]. Not just finding popularity in the non-alcoholic market, hard kombucha which contains alcohol is set to trend in 2021.

Alcohol-free and low abv:

The prioritisation of health and wellness has led to a shift in consumers approach to the evening nightcap. The UK market for alcohol-free and low ABV beer has doubled in four years[8]. Dozens of consumers are more health-conscious than ever, 4.2 million Brits pledged to dry January this year[9]. Due in part to both a recent innovation within the mixer market and alcohol-free initiatives we have seen a growth in non-alcoholic options, contributing to the 30% increase in sales of low alcohol beers since 2016[10]. From Budweiser to Johnnie Walker, the world's biggest brewers and beverage producers are jumping on the alcohol-free bandwagon. Brewdog has even opened the ‘world's first alcohol-free bar’ in London[11].

Conclusion:

Rising consumer demand for healthy beverages is considered the driving force behind the growth of the functional food and drink sector. Nutrition focused food and drink allows consumers to take a proactive approach to their health. With over a third of consumers actively looking for functional benefits from their food and drink the market is flourishing.


[1] https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/category-reports/mood-food-functional-foods-category-report-2019/593208.article

[2] https://www.beveragedaily.com/Article/2020/04/15/Does-the-future-of-CBD-look-sweet-for-the-drinks-sector

[3] https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/wellness-trends-2020

[4] https://liquidbrandexports.com/blog/2019/2/27/the-rising-kombucha-trend

[5] https://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Article/2019/04/20/Kombucha-and-fermented-beverage-sales-are-up-21-but-velocities-are-down-says-SPINS

[6] https://www.lumina-intelligence.com/2018/08/07/kombucha-market-industry-trends-and-growth/

[7] https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2020/03/18/Coronavirus-sparks-staggering-growth-in-online-searches-for-foods-with-functional-benefits-report

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/mar/11/young-drinkers-thirst-for-no--and-low-alcohol-beer-sets-new-trend

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jan/20/uk-brewers-invest-in-low-alcohol-drinks-trend

[10] https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/mar/11/young-drinkers-thirst-for-no--and-low-alcohol-beer-sets-new-trend

[11] https://www.brewdog.com/blog/we-are-opening-the-worlds-first-alcohol-free-beer-bar