“Emotional and mental health is something that Brazilians from all ages and different household incomes understand,” said Marina Ferreira, food and drink analyst at Mintel market research company.
According to a Mintel survey, which asked Brazilians why they bought healthy food and beverages, 42% of the top earners said it was for “emotional health and mental well-being” while 40% of the middle class gave the same response.
“Here in Brazil, most of the products that target this emotional well-being are premium products for people that have money so there is an opportunity to [apply] this to ‘mass’ consumer products that are more affordable and […] that are consumed on a daily basis, like biscuits, flour – anything,” Ferreira told FoodNavigator-LATAM.
Although Brazil’s food safety regulatory authority ANVISA prohibits manufacturers from explicitly making un-supported health claims on-pack, Ferreira said companies can convey messages in other ways.
“We see companies bringing this to their communication [campaigns] on Facebook for example or using influencers, or the name of the brand. One pharmacy chain launched a line of snack products that have names like ‘calm soul’.”
Another snack manufacturer B.eat makes a Peaceful Night fruit snack mix, claiming it has a calming effect that helps individuals sleep.
Meanwhile, the trend for healthy aging is slowly starting to appear in food products, migrating from the beauty and nutrition sectors where the concept is well-established.
“The [food] industry is just starting to realize that people are getting older. Brazil still has a big population of young people but we see that some consumers are demanding [such products],” Ferreira said.
According to the analyst, however, in Brazil healthy aging food products are still “quite niche” and there is also some prejudice. One Mintel survey revealed that almost one-third (29%) of Brazilians, independent of their age, said healthy aging products were just for old people.
Products appealing to emotional well-being and healthy aging can be formulated not just by removing nutrients seen as unhealthy such as sugar, salt, and fat but by adding in natural ingredients known for certain attributes, such as chamomile for calmness, the analyst said.
However, if companies are positioning a product as healthy then they should ensure it does not contain excess amounts of certain nutrients such as sugar or saturated fat.
“It’s funny to see that Brazilians understand what a high-fiber product is – they relate it to digestion – while a high-protein product is related to more energy, and Brazilians think 100% natural products contain less sugar and salt because they are not industrialized. But at the same time, they also think no- or low-lactose or gluten-free products are low-calorie or low-fat. This may be the case but not necessarily.”
Ferreira added that while manufacturers could use this perception in their favor, failing to meet consumers’ expectations could backfire, prompting a backlash.