Such growth comes as no surprise: After two years of pandemic uncertainty, Americans are more stressed than ever. According to a 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association, 32% of Americans said they were sometime so stressed about the pandemic that they struggled to make even basic decisions. And the stats were even higher for younger people (48% of Millennials, for example), and for parents vs non-parents.
As a result, sales of products to improve and sleep, manage stress, and boost mood have sky-rocketed over the past two years.
Sales of these supplements in the mass channels* and natural channels** totaled almost $140 million from February 2021 to February 2022, compared with $79.2million for the February 2020-21, according to data provided by SPINS.
“Stress management is intimately linked with overall mental well-being, and consumers are becoming more aware of this symbiotic relationship,” Sophie Zillinger Molenaar, Global Marketing Lead Biotis, FrieslandCampina Ingredients, told us.
“We see that as stress levels rise, so too does consumer interest in cognitive health products. For example, in 2018 53% of global consumers stated that they were interested in cognitive health products, even when not suffering from specific health problems. In 2021, this figure increased to 66% of global consumers. This dramatic leap shows that people are proactively looking to improve their mental well-being, and with more consumers taking action, the stigma around mental health issues is also decreasing. This lack of stigma and increased awareness means many consumers are looking for functional foods and drinks that target mental health,” she added.
Zillinger Molenaar added that more consumers are looking for nutritional and dietary approaches for stress management and mood support can also pick from an expanding range of delivery formats to fit their lifestyles, including capsules, gummies, soft drinks, yoghurts and shots.
The SPINS data backs this up. Under their wider Mood Support health focus (products that either make claims about mood support or have ingredients in their formulas which are considered to be mood supporting), significant growth has been reported for a range of formats, including meal replacements (86% growth), and superfood and juice concentrates (+13,943%, albeit from a very small base).
Follow your gut
Probiotics and digestive aids (which included prebiotics and enzymes) for mood support is another area that reported good growth, up about 14% to almost $9 million for the 52-week period ending February 20, 2022.
FrieslandCampina offers a Biotis GOS (galacto-oligosacchride) prebiotic, derived from lactose found in whey, explained Sillinger Molenaar.
“A healthy gut is not only associated with protection against infections, but it is also linked to sleep and mood via the gut-brain axis,” she said. The ingredient has been shown to not only balance of the gut microbiota and improve general digestive health, but a 2021 study published in Scientific Reports by scientists in the UK and the Netherlands reported that four weeks of supplementation with the Biotis GOS (5.5 grams per day) led to anti-anxiety effects in young healthy women.
“More research is currently underway across the industry that will enable more scientific breakthroughs in maximizing the beneficial properties of prebiotics in supporting normal stress levels,” said Zillinger Molenaar.
SPINS Channel Definitions
*SPINS MultiOutlet Channel (powered by IRI) covers the Grocery Outlet (store with $2M+ annual ACV), the Drug Outlet (chains and independent stores, excluding Rx sales), and selected retailers across Mass Merchandisers, including Walmart, Club, Dollar, and Military representing over 105,000 retail locations.
** SPINS Natural Enhanced Channel is composed of full-format stores with $2 million+ in annual sales and 40% or more of UPC coded sales from natural/organic/specialty products. It Includes co-ops, associations, independents, and large regional chains (excludes Whole Foods & Trader Joes). This channel breeds innovation and sustains the level of authenticity and high product standards that define the industry. It represents over $28B in total sales, and encompasses over 1850 stores.