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Nutraceuticals for Mental Wellness

by EzeeProjects01

Traditional ingredients clinically proven to support mental and cognitive health are gaining presence in India’s nutraceuticals market amid growing consumer demand for scientifically-backed natural remedies.

In 2021, India’s dietary supplement market had an estimated value of €3.9 billion – by 2026, that figure is forecast to increase to €10 billion,1 growing at a CAGR of 22%. This growth has been driven by major behaviour change among Indian consumers, 41% of whom have reportedly increased their supplement intake over the past 12 months.2

There are many reasons for this. Long before anyone had heard of COVID-19, consumers across the world were becoming more proactive when it came to health and nutrition. Unsurprisingly, however, the pandemic accelerated this trend – globally, six in ten now seek added functional benefits from everyday foods and beverages.3

However, people aren’t just looking to nutraceuticals for immune support, or other physical health benefits – there has been a major increase in demand for products that target areas like mental wellbeing, stress relief, sleep support. This is perhaps unsurprising given that we are living through times of huge stress. As Innova Market Insights noted in 2020, “Recent events have had a significant effect on mental wellbeing, with many people facing increased rates of anxiety off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic”.4 Since then, of course, new sources of uncertainty have emerged – inflation, economic volatility and a seemingly unstable geopolitical situation.

This has changed the landscape for the food, beverage and supplements industries which, according to Innova, are increasingly “playing a part in tackling mental unease, with mood-boosting products ranging from those formulated and promoted to aid a general ‘feel good’ factor to those targeting more specific mood worries, such as anxiety, stress and poor sleep.”5

Another key area is demand for solutions for memory and other areas of cognitive wellbeing. In 2020, supplements offering cognitive benefits accounted for one in six supplement launches in Europe, and one in four in Australia and New Zealand.6 This trend is particularly pronounced in India, where brain health or mood accounted for 30% of health claims in supplement launches in 2021 (compared to 13% for Asia as a whole).7

One of the other effects of the pandemic was a desire to return to natural and traditional ingredients, with many consumers turning to trusted ancient remedies as a response to the crisis. Globally, the number of launches of products with functional botanicals almost doubled between 2018 and 2020,8 and in Asia botanical and herbal supplements accounted for one in five launches in 2021.9

But while tradition appeals to consumers, so does evidence. Today’s typical consumer is more skeptical and more scientifically savvy than he or she was in the past. Four in ten don’t trust brands because they believe they make misleading health claims around the ingredients in their products.10 The same number say they are motivated to buy a healthy lifestyle product after seeing scientific data supporting its benefits.11

Said Aanchal A. Kumar, Business Development Manager, Applied Health & Nutrition at Kerry, “In India, scientific substantiation is one of the top purchase drivers: 46% of consumers say they do their own research on products’ ingredients and benefits, with 43% of them doing their own research on scientific data claims.12 The ideal ingredient for our times could therefore be seen as one that combines an appeal to tradition with high levels of scientific substantiation.”

One ingredient that definitely passes both tests, and which is particularly well known in India, is ashwagandha. Used in Ayurveda for thousands of years to enhance focus and help reduce everyday stress,13 it’s one of the best studied adaptogens, and has been shown to positively influence stress responses.14 Furthermore, six in ten consumers – across all age groups – have heard of it, making it one of the best known ingredients for cognitive support.11

In an uncertain world, consumers’ needs are evolving rapidly. Population aging has shifted priorities, areas like sleep improvement and stress reduction are high on the agenda, and consumers are increasingly aware of the complex links between various health states. By using scientifically proven botanical ingredients like ashwagandha, brands can tap into some of the most important trends in India’s growing nutraceutical market.

Said John Quilter, Vice President of Kerry’s Global ProActive Health portfolio, who spoke on nutraceuticals at the recent Health Foods and Dietary Supplements Association (HADSA) annual conference in Mumbai: “India is fast establishing itself as a nutraceuticals manufacturing hub. The domestic dietary supplements market is anticipating growth of 15% this year and India currently holds 2% of the global nutraceutical market but that is projected to grow to 3% very quickly. The size of the Indian supplement market and growth opportunity ensures India is a core market in our ProActive Health long term growth strategy.”

  • MOFPI, Govt of India
  • Innova Market Insights
  • Kerry Proprietary Insights
  • Innova Market Insights ‘Mental and emotional wellbeing: Targeting the ‘feel good’ factor and specific mood needs’, November 2020
  • Innova Market Insights ‘Mental and emotional wellbeing: Targeting the ‘feel good’ factor and specific mood needs’, November 2020
  • Innova Market Insights, 2022
  • Innova Market Insights
  • Innova Market Insights, 2022
  • Innova Market Insights
  • FMCG Gurus, 2021
  • Kerry Proprietary Insights
  • Kerry Global Consumer Survey – Digestive and Immune Health, 2021
  • Singh N, Bhalla M, de Jager P, Gilca M. An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):208-213. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9
  • Lopresti, Adrian L. PhDa,b* Smith, Stephen J. MAa,b; Malvi, Hakeemudin MBBS, MDc; Kodgule, Rahul MBBSd ‘An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract’ Medicine, September 2019

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