Nutrition: A key enabler to holistic wellbeing

Rachel Marshall, Senior Technical Engagement Manager at Fonterra, explains why nutrition is crucial for total mind and body wellness

15 Mar 2023

5 min

#Blog #Global #Insights #Mental Wellbeing #Active Lifestyle #Nutrition

Health is a top priority for consumers and the growing trend around holistic health and wellbeing, or total mind and body wellness, has proven that it is here to stay. 88% of global consumers believe it is important to eat a well-balanced diet to prevent major illnesses, meaning nutrition is well recognised as part of health and wellbeing.1

A holistic and proactive approach to wellbeing

With an aspiration to live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives, consumers are taking an increasingly holistic approach to health.

9 in 10 global consumers believe that being healthy involves looking after all aspects of wellbeing, including physical and mental health.1

There’s a growing understanding among consumers that these wellbeing dimensions are intertwined and that nutrition is critical to set the foundation for wellbeing beyond just physical health. For example, the microbiome and its impact on immunity, digestion and even skin and mental health are being increasingly recognised and acted on by consumers.

Barriers to healthy nutrition

Despite a rapid evolution of offerings and messaging, often consumers experience barriers to managing their wellbeing through nutrition. As mentioned, 88% of global consumers consider a balanced diet as important to preventing illness, however, only 56% of consumers choose to eat a healthy diet to maintain their wellbeing.1

This means 1 in 3 global consumers believe a well-balanced diet is important to prevent major illnesses, but they struggle to put this into practice.1

The traditional barriers of taste, cost and convenience apply, but as more solutions and needs emerge, understanding which options to choose to meet their specific needs is a major problem. This is often due to mistrust related to conflicting or incomplete information.

As a result, brands who formulate great tasting, convenient solutions for efficacy and give customers reason to believe through clinically backed claims and clear messaging, will set themselves up for success as consumers experience the benefits of their offerings and spread the word to others. 


Mental wellbeing is top of mind

Even before the mental and emotional angst of the past few years, mental wellbeing and how to manage it, was on the minds of many, along with a growing recognition that nutrition has a crucial role to play. 


of global consumers identified stress as a major concern.1


As a result, consumers are looking for ways to support their mental performance, including often interrelated aspects such as sleep, cognition and stress without turning to prescription medicines. They are looking to address this either through supplements or for the pill fatigued, in everyday food and beverage formats.1

Mental wellbeing solutions are growing and evolving

Perhaps the first everyday format to offer a mental benefit was energy drinks. In these, formulations that offer mental focus and a jolt of energy from caffeine, B-vitamins and guarana are well established, but some energy offerings are becoming more complex with popular new ingredients and benefits.

Additionally, the consumer audience is developing, bringing new needs such as the desire for claims like ‘all-natural,’ which drives opportunities for new ingredient offerings, such as broad-spectrum milk phospholipids. 

As efficacious ingredients and supporting clinical evidence evolve there will be an increasing emergence of everyday formats with mental wellbeing benefits incorporated.

Taste remains critical as enjoyment is part of mental wellbeing

Part of mental wellbeing management is sensory enjoyment, with consumers saying that they often choose indulgent foods for the mental health benefits that they offer, with 78% of regular snackers doing so to pamper or reward themselves and 77% for a sense of comfort.2

Additionally, when consumers in the Nutiani Ipsos Consumer Wellness Research were asked why they consume snack products, 37% said they consumed snacks to help them relax, 35% said they snacked to boost their mood and 23% said to stay alert/energised.1

The enjoyment dairy ingredients offer in both taste and texture, coupled with great nutrition makes me excited about how dairy and related ingredients* can expand reach in mental wellbeing solutions.

Rachel Marshall, Senior Technical Engagement Manager, Active Living, Fonterra

Recently, we have seen some interesting launches in dairy-based formats with brands tapping into several consumer needs and trends, especially ‘better for you’ indulgence. This includes beverages and ice cream with indulgent flavours, low sugar and calories and moderate to high protein, while also containing sleep supporting components, giving permissibility to a little indulgence before bed without spoiling your sleep.

Woman eating ice cream in outside setting

Dairy brings opportunities beyond protein and physical wellbeing

In addition to the well-known nutrition and health support dairy brings, including protein and calcium for healthy muscles and bones, dairy and adjacent ingredients* can help consumers reach their total mind and body wellbeing goals. Perhaps best known in infant formula for brain development, the broad-spectrum phospholipids sourced from the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) have increasing evidence of the benefits for adults for both mental and physical wellbeing.3

Many consumers want the convenience of multiple health benefits from a single product as this provides both convenience and value.

Over half of global consumers rely on nutrition to manage both stress and muscle health.1

Given the health benefits associated with dairy components and adjacent ingredients* such as probiotics, we believe the future is bright for holistic health and wellness. Hence, there should be a range of opportunities for brands that are capable of delivering clinically supported ingredients to support physical, inner and mental wellbeing.

NZMP newsfeed article image from Nutiani

Our recently launched Nutiani, wellbeing nutrition solutions brand, focuses on three wellbeing dimensions: physical wellbeing, including muscle, mobility and weight related benefits; inner wellbeing, such as gut, immune and skin health and mental wellbeing including stress management, cognition and sleep.

In addition to ready-to-market concepts and expert services, Nutiani offers a range of clinically supported ingredients with great positioning and format versatility, including broad-spectrum phospholipids, probiotics and more. We can expect exciting times ahead as Nutiani strives to enhance health span and life span through supporting a better quality of life for consumers.

Learn about Nutiani's 5 consumer segments shaping demand for health and wellbeing nutrition.


*Adjacent and related ingredients refers to non-dairy ingredients that are found in or associated with dairy, such as probiotics.

To read the full article, download this month's Perspective publication below.

Download this month's Perspective

Read more in the March edition of Perspective.


Rachel Marshall

Senior Technical Engagement Manager - Active Living, Fonterra

Rachel is a food professional with a strong technical background, especially in nutritional solutions. She has been with Fonterra in technical, marketing and sales roles since 2000, with her current role drawing on all of these skills to help customers bring new nutritional products to market. Her passion for nutrition and healthy living, both for work and in her personal life, means she keeps a close eye on industry trends and is constantly looking for new products to try, especially those offering ‘better for you’ indulgence. Rachel’s lifestyle is active, with a solid workout regime and protein and micronutrient supplementation to ensure good health today and to proactively lay the foundation for a long and healthy life to come.

The views expressed above are the opinion of the author, not those of Fonterra, and Fonterra is not responsible for any decisions taken in reliance on the same.

  • 1. IPSOS, Nutiani, Consumer Wellness Research (August 2021).
  • 2. Mondolez International State of Snacking 2022 Global Consumer Snacking Trends Study.
  • 3. Publication List: Nutiani Phospholipids, Nutiani (June 2021).

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