Mood foods are on the way up, confirms Mintel

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Psychology, Mintel

Mood foods are set to nudge their way into the spotlight as the science linking diet and behavior continues to emerge, says market researcher Mintel.

The group told that this is still an emerging area of the food industry, so although specific market information remains limited, Mintel has identified it as an “up and coming trend”.

Mintel says mood foods are those that either bring to mind a particular emotion, or foods that have been scientifically shown to exert an impact on behavior.

“Scientists have been promoting the link between diet and behavior, especially of the aberrant kind, for some time. One famous legal case hinged on a defense lawyer claiming that his client had been driven to commit murder because of his diet of sweets; this has gone down in legal lore as the Twinkie defense,”​ said Mintel.

Although the scientific focus on mood and behavior has largely been on the negative impacts of different foods or components – such as red meat or additives – there is also a growing body of evidence linking different compounds to positive mood or behavioral effects.

“As science continues to cast its gaze at the links between health and diet (…) there will be more overlap between food and mood,”​ wrote Mintel in a recent Inspire​ paper entitled Mood from Food – What’s it about?

“We envisage seeing more moods evoked by brand and their communication (be it

packaging or other means): the likes of surprise, revelation, discovery, elation, joy and other universal emotions and moods.”

Cognitive effects

While Mintel is approaching the mood foods category from a broad base – including emotions and memories in the bag – another recent market research report provided a more focused view of the category.

Published by Kline & Company in January this year and entitled Mood-Enhancing Foods and Beverages: The ‘Fun’ in Functional Foods​, the flash-point report identified mood foods as those that uplift mood, boost mental health or improve cognitive function.

“Due to the lack of a standard definition of the mood foods category and the nascent global market, the size of the global mood foods industry is uncertain. However, due to a low sales base, the mood foods market will continue to experience a robust growth rate,”​ wrote Kline.

“As food scientists and marketers strive to infuse new ideas and incorporate new benefits, the focus of the functional foods industry is widening beyond the traditionally offered physiological functional benefits. In this context, functional foods and beverages that stimulate mental and emotional wellness emerge as an interesting market niche.”

Food and behavior

Last week, industry executives and healthcare professionals met in the UK to discuss the latest developments in the area of food and behavior, particularly in relation to children.

Organized by the UK charity Food and Behaviour Research (FAB), the event examined the importance of certain nutrients – such as omega-3 and zinc – on cognitive development and behavior, as well as the detrimental impact of trace and toxic minerals – such as lead and cadmium.

Related topics: Markets, Cognitive function

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