A lesson in functional foods: Enjoyment vs Health

Western consumer trends in health and wellness are at a crossroads, contends influential research company, The Hartman Group, in terms of the reactive, reductionist, overly medical perspectives of the past when compared to holistic, positive and experiential approaches of today’s most progressive consumers…

In other words, health and wellness today, it believes, is transitioning toward a much greater appreciation for enjoyment, a part of which, for example, can be the simple (and often sublime taste) of fruits and berries as experienced at their origin.

Fruits and berries like açai and pomegranate have been largely distilled and recast by Western culture as “super fruit” functional ingredients capable of powering strong elixirs. A part of this “overly medicalised” perspective grows out of the late 1990s explosion of interest in natural ingredients that might have highly targeted benefits in terms of treatment for aging, cancer and general wellness (remember the excitement surrounding the health potentials of “resveratrol” in relation to red wine grapes?).

Flash forward to today… this article on Heartbeat, The Hartman Group’s e-newsletter, uses the example of acai’s evolution on the US beverage scene and its rise to prominence in the US as a “superfruit” to make its point that as the world of health and wellness has evolved to include notions of emotional and spiritual well-being, consumers are now becoming increasingly more passionate about the food and beverages they consume, and less concerned about healthy eating/drinking habits and so-called “better for you” foods/beverages.

Quality has been redefined in terms of fresh, less-processed, artisanal/small-scale production, local and seasonal. Despite this important cultural development with important implications for food and beverage manufacturers and retailers, there still remains an overemphasis on medicalised product benefits.

The article concludes: Ordinary people do not eat and drink ingredients, nutrients or health and wellness platforms — they eat food and drink beverages.

The Hartman Group: Read more