Food innovation trends: from mental wellbeing to personalisation

As another season approaches with the beginning of September, it is quite normal to reflect on the past months.
As I approach the reflective part of my year, I tend to ask myself what has changed and especially why? These are the same questions that experts and researchers in food science ask themselves and customers in order to understand novel trends and how to improve customers’ experiences and wellbeing.

What have you changed during this last year and a half? Did you buy more take-away foods? Did you prefer going back to preparing your own food from scratch like bread or pasta even? Are you paying attention to your food composition and how to improve your mental and physical well-being?

The outcome of these observations will be reflected in the novel food products that we will consume and buy in the coming months. Read some examples of food innovation trends that we will see in the future:

Mental Wellbeing

A future trend that we will be observing will definitely be one focused on Mental Well-being. Let’s look at what Pepsico is doing. In 2020 Pepsico launched Driftwell, a functional still water beverage that aimed at contrasting stress and supporting relaxation. The goal is to develop drinks and beverages that are customised for customers’ mental well-being.

As a consequence, Soulboost has been added to the choice of novel drinks. Soublboost is a drink made with sparkling water, juice and functional ingredients. Pepsico has launched Soulboost in two versions focusing concentration issues and relaxation: LIFT and EASE.

  • Lift  (200mg of panax ginseng to help support mental stamina, available in two flavors: Blueberry Pomegranate and Black Cherry Citrus). Ginseng is a natural source of actoprotectors which are subclass of adaptogens which are agents that stimulate your body’s stress-protection response and hold a significant capacity to increase physical performance (Oliynyk et al., 2013).
  • Ease (200mg of L-theanine to help relaxation, available in two flavors: Blackberry Passion fruit and Strawberry Rose). L-theanine is a water-soluble non proteic aminoacid and is considered an important contributor to the ‘umami’ taste of tea (Guo et al., 2018). L-theanine administration has been linked to benefits on brain health and has an anti-stress and neuroprotective role (Hidese et al., 2019).

These new type of products are focused on building rituals linked to stress release and mental well-being. I look forward to seeing more ’emotional foods‘ developed in the near future.


Customer friendly ingredients

The switch to alternatives to cow-milk is gaining speed in the last few years and producers are trying to find ways to offer variety of products as well as increased shelf-life.
One of the strategies that Daily Harvest’s Mylk has put in place to stand out from the competition is the production of almond milk ‘wedges’ that you can store in your fridge up to 6 months and that you can pop out of their container to produce a tasty plant based beverage.

This strategy not only will save you multiple trips to the supermarket but also help you manage the space in your fridge/freezer.

Here is a video that shows you how to use MYLK wedges.

MYLK wedges


Personalisation is something that we have seen happening already with Coca-Cola using people’s names to create unique bottles, similarly to what happened with Nutella jars. It is clear that personalisation seems to be a trend that is here to stay and will be used in order to tailor foods to customers’ needs and health.

An example is NesQino, a product born from a partnership with FutureBrand and Nestle. It is a customizable functional beverage product launched in China in April 2020. It comes with a digitally connected Q-cup machine, superfood sachets, and three different base sachets: one for smoothies, one for oat shake, and one for milk shake. NesQino has the aim of enabling people to personalise healthy superfood drinks, all of them made from natural ingredients. Here is a video that will show you how it works. Quite exciting, right?


Guo, X., Song, C., Ho, C.T., and Wan, X. (2018). Contribution of L-theanine to the formation of 2,5-dimethylpyrazine, a key roasted peanutty fla-vor in oolong tea during manufacturing processes. Food Chem. 263: 18–28

Hidese, S., Ogawa, S., Ota, M., Ishida, I., Yasukawa, Z., Ozeki, M., and Kunu-gi, H. (2019). Effects of L-theanine administration on stress-related symptoms and cognitive functions in healthy adults: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrients 11(10): 2362.

Oliynyk, S., & Oh, S. (2013). Actoprotective effect of ginseng: improving mental and physical performance. Journal of ginseng research, 37(2), 144–166.

Wang, Q., Zheng, Y., Ho, C.-T., Huang, J., Guan, X., Lai, C., Gao, H., & Lin, B. (2021). L-theanine as a promising agent on brain health-promoting foods – A review. Journal of Food Bioactives, 13.

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