It means consumers in the West are more likely to be interested in the clean label credentials of Ayurvedic botanicals than the overall concept of the system itself, says Mintel.
According to analysts, Ayurveda has begun to enter new and untapped food and drink categories in Europe and North America, such as porridge, cereal, frozen lassi and juices, although the market is still overwhelmingly dominated by tea products.
“Botanicals used in Ayurveda such as tulsi, ashwagandha, pepper and cardamom are examples of botanical ingredients that have been used in Ayurvedic food and drink products in Europe and North America,” said the research body.
“In addition to their clean and natural appeal, some Ayurvedic botanicals may deliver health benefits. In India, the herb brahmi has been used for focus, concentration and memory, although regulations may prohibit this claim elsewhere in the world.
“Similarly, there may be some Ayurvedic botanicals that are nutritionally dense. As an example, the amla fruit, also known as the Indian gooseberry, is claimed to be high in vitamin C.”
However, analysts point out that food and nutrition manufacturers face a potential marketing dilemma, with many consumers less interested in Ayurveda’s all-encompassing principles.
And there is also the issue of trying to validate the many health claims the practice freely makes in India
“Ayurvedic medicine is holistic, meaning that is considers the ‘whole-body’. It is based on the principle that health and wellness depend on a subtle equilibrium between the body, mind and spirit,” said Minel.
“Although Ayurveda is an accepted form of medical practice in India, its treatments, practices and products aren’t necessarily approved by western regulatory bodies. Ayurvedic medicine hasn’t been widely studied as part of conventional western medicine. Therefore, there is a lack of scientific evidence to back up the effectiveness.”
Clean and natural
Consumers are however, more likely to be enticed by the botanicals perceived clean-label connotations – especially in the UK.
“Botanical ingredients resonate well with consumers as clean and natural ingredients.[which is a] very important factor to consumers,” it said.
“For example, 38% of UK consumers agree that natural is an important factor when looking for healthy foods, according to Attitudes Towards Healthy Eating - UK, February 2016. Similarly, 28% of US consumers agree that they eat natural or organic foods regularly to live a healthy lifestyle, according to Healthy Lifestyles – US, October 2015.”
While its botanicals may have the potential to boom, Ayurveda as a whole still faces significant awareness challenges, with fewer than one-in-two UK consumers having heard of it.
“Consumers may be interested in new and exciting herbs (and other botanicals) that are associated with Ayurveda. They may be less convinced by the concept of Ayurveda itself,” Mintel’s report concluded.