Cologne: 04.–08.10.2025 #anuga

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Total Tastes – Food a Medicine

The food-as-medicine movement is being rebranded to fit modern lifestyles, balancing flavour and function to shape our physical and psychological states.

From basic needs to sensory pleasures, we eat for many reasons. Increasingly, however, consumers are choosing foods for the functions they offer as well as the nutrition and pleasure they provide. As the food-as-medicine movement enters the mainstream, the idea and image of health are changing.

Make Them Crazy by Future Farm and Soko

Make Them Crazy by Future Farm and Soko explores a humorous take on meat and wellness

In the US alone, the percentage of consumers who want functional benefits from their food and drinks has risen from 37% in September 2019 to 51% in May 2020 (source: Tastewise). Meanwhile, the health and wellness food market has the potential to grow by £182.5m ($236m, €198.2m) between 2020 and 2024, according to Technavio.

‘We are in the middle of a new era of mindful eating, expanding our understanding of health as we become more aware of the connected relationship between food and drinks and how they affect our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing,’ Hamish Campbell, vice-president and executive creative director at branding agency Pearlfisher.

As a desire to be resilient overtakes the drive for optimisation, approaches to nutrition are following suit. In the US, anxiety is now the population’s top health concern and 20% of consumers use food and beverage to remedy stress (source: Hartman Group).

“We are expanding our understanding of food and drink and how they affect our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing”, says Hamish Campbell, vice-president and executive creative director, Pearlfisher.

Prompted by Covid-19, the gap between clean eating and indulgence is also closing, with diets becoming sources of comfort and control. For brands and consumers, this way of thinking is an opportunity to have more rather than less. ‘Brands need to move away from old design codes that convey that healthy habits mean you must restrict or subtract in order to feel good,’ continues Campbell.

In response, brands are breaking out of their traditional confines and elevating the everyday choices of eating and drinking as drivers of meaningful lifestyles. In addition to addressing the taste-health paradox in new ways, this total approach is transforming the makers of food and beverages into habit purveyors.

In the coming months and years, demand for food and drinks that are designed to elevate mood, sustain energy and reduce stress will grow. Soon, as the overall functionality of food becomes more important in consumer choices, holistic innovations and approaches will be interwoven throughout the food value chain. Spanning agriculture, retail and restaurants, these industries will be redefined by a mindset that combines advanced nutrition and positive living.

Day-to-night Diets

Touting the right ingredients for the right time of day, entire product ranges are being tailored to support specific parts of our routines. This means a single brand can now cater for consumers morning, noon and night. Creating this everyday journey is rewriting the rules of healthy snacking – a market expected to exceed £25.3bn ($32.9bn, €27.6bn) by 2025 (source: Grand View Research).

Twell designed by Garnish Studios

Twell designed by Garnish Studios are sparkling herbal tonics for morning, noon and night, US

Good Source Snacks are designed around this concept of dayparting. The smart protein snacks, which include Morning Jump, Afternoon Boost, Afternoon Break and Evening Chill, are made with 70% dark cocoa and a base of olive oil. Each variety uses simple ingredients to support different functions throughout the day, such as ginger root for morning brain function, cayenne pepper to provide an afternoon metabolism boost, and lavender powder for night-time calm.

‘Good Source Snacks are simply made with the right ingredients to provide a functional benefit at the right time of the day,’ says the brand. ‘Snacks that jump-start your morning, re-energise your afternoon and promote sleep before your head hits the pillow.

Similarly marketed to support consumers throughout the day, skincare brand Cocokind launched a range of Beauty Bevs in June 2020. The plant-based drinks include an adaptogenic latte for morning, a cleansing tonic with chlorophyll for the afternoon and an evening drink with vitamin C. From Matcha Sunrise to Turmeric Sunset, new drinks brand Twell also creates sparkling herbal tonics to be enjoyed at different times.

Beauty Foods 2.0

Beauty brands have, in recent years, embraced an inside-out approach by introducing various pills and powders to their product ranges. Now, the same holistic thinking is driving new directions for food and drink brands, which are launching science-backed beauty foods and even skincare made using their hero ingredients. This is further bridging the gap between nutrition and skincare.

Jay Carroll of Wonder Valley

Jay Carroll of Wonder Valley, USA

Sakara Life, a pioneer in plant-based, functional foods and beverages, recently expanded its range of beauty supplements to include a new Beauty Super Bar which the company calls ‘a multi-functional step in both your nutrition and skincare routines’. To this end, the plant-based protein bar contains ‘a patent-pending nutricosmetic ingredient clinically shown to improve skin’s radiance, tone and texture’.

Crossover is moving in the other direction, too. When premium olive oil brand Wonder Valley was launched, its mission was to ‘bring California olive oil to a new audience’, says co-founder Alison Carroll. The brand has marketed olive oil’s anti-ageing properties from day one, but more recently Wonder Valley has moved into beauty with a range of unisex, olive-oil based skincare products which include a face oil, body oil, oil cleanser and soap.

With a slate of new products in the pipeline, this shows how grocery and beauty are coming together to build new hybrid brands. ‘Wonder Valley is a celebration of the holistic benefits of extra virgin olive oil as a superfood and as a hero ingredient,’ so Carroll. ‘We’re creating products that support this holistic, big-picture approach to wellness and beauty.’


In order to cater for this total mindset, we will need to consider how different aspects of the food value chain can tap into nutrition and positive living in appealing, accessible ways.

Pharma Farms

As consumers reconnect with food sources and farmers shift to online sales, precision nutrition will progress along the supply chain. Due to the coronavirus, 34% of consumers say they are eating more locally produced foods and 42% think they are eating more healthily (source: Packaged Facts). In the future, direct-to-consumer farming and personal nutrition will come together to grow and deliver fresh produce on-demand.

The Green Structure of Copenhagen by Agnes Josefin Hekla

The Green Structure of Copenhagen by Agnes Josefin Hekla envisages a self-sufficient city through locally produced foods

Willo, a new monthly subscription service that lets customers build their own farm, choose their own crops and have produce grown for them, is pioneering this shift. The company plans to build farms in major cities with the aim of promoting health and restoring consumers’ connection with the food system.

For the first time, fresh food will be grown specifically for the person consuming it,’ says Samuel Bertram, co-founder and CEO of Willo. ‘Personalisation exists everywhere except for the food industry and we’re here to give the market what they are asking for. By letting people configure their own plot in Willo’s farm, we can grow the specific fruit and vegetables they desire, while making recommendations tailored to their health needs.’

In the next decade, we can expect to see a shift as farming and pharmaceuticals come closer together. Our understanding of everyday foods will, as a result, evolve to reflect discoveries in both the field and the lab. For example, Brightseed, a biotech start-up that maps novel plant nutrients for human health, recently entered a partnership with food group Danone to uncover a new depth of nutritional knowledge about humble soybean crops.

Made-to-order Markets

The virtual vendors of the future will tailor groceries to meet the tastes and nutritional needs of their shoppers. This will not only tap into the growing market for bespoke nutrition – which is set to grow to more than £8.5bn ($11.35bn, €9bn) by 2026 – but also champions a new paradigm for rapid, reactive and personalised experience in the grocery sector (source: Reports and Data).

Portable cooking kit by Jisum Kim

Jisum Kim has designed a portable cooking kit that is tailored to an individual’s health needs

Following in the footsteps of supplements, personalisation will upend pantry staples and packaged goods. ‘We are moving forward from democratised wellness to a new generation of brands that more accurately address our individual biologies and physiologies with hyper-personalised solutions,’ Hamish Campbell of Pearlfisher tells LS:N Global.

Hinting at this future, health food start-up Erbology has introduced a new service that provides people with a healthy snack tailored to their tastes and dietary requirements. ‘At Erbology, we are creating a unique business model which eschews inefficient, unsustainable mass production and puts the customer’s individual needs first,’ explains co-founder Irina Turcan.

Health intelligence services may also team up with retailers to incorporate personalised nutrition into the shopping experience. Offering insights into the impact that diet has on mood, energy and weight, new companies like Base are making at-home testing more accessible and practical for consumers. With these lessons in mind, the supermarkets of tomorrow will aspire to offer products that match flavour and performance individually.

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