Thanks to the growing popularity and mainstream status of yoga, the ancient Indian healing practice of Ayurveda has become better known to American consumers. Ayurveda is a complex holistic approach to restoring balance in a person that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual elements. People may lose balance due to disease, aging, improper diet, stress and trauma. To restore it, Ayurvedic practitioners use foods, beverages, herbal supplements, meditation and exercise—as well as mindful eating habits.
The notion of holistic well-being is appealing to wellness consumers who aspire to healthier living that includes restful sleep, balanced exercise and diet, traditional herbal supplements and meditation. Packaged Facts found that for Boomers, Millennials and anyone else seeking holistic health approaches, Ayurvedic principles are intriguing and attractive, providing a historical context and reasons to believe.
“Ayurvedic food and beverages fit for consumers well-versed in physical fitness, supplement-supported wellness and alternative medicine. For yogis and those meditating along with Dr. Deepak Chopra or Oprah, Ayurvedic ingredients may already be part of a personal regime,” said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts. “Paleos, Keto dieters and natural food lovers also find inspiration in some Ayurvedic items, such as ghee and supportive herbs.”
However, a specific Ayurvedic diet is not likely to be an exclusive practice beyond those working with a healer for a specific treatment. Instead, as is typical in today’s try-it-on-for-size wellness society, a few star ingredients and food items have risen out of the tradition and taken on lives of their own. Take turmeric, for example, the recently anointed superspice gilding hot beverages in coffee shops across the country. Or—as Sprinkle mentioned—ghee, a rising good fat in the natural and specialty grocery channels. Ashwagandha is also gaining in popularity, particularly thanks to a growing pool of clinical research supporting its potential benefits. Behind these health-food darlings are more traditional Ayurvedic herbal and medicinal teas, as well as a host of novel ready-to-drink functional beverages, touting potent botanical benefits that appeal to consumers seeking tonics with a touch of tradition.
Brands committed to Ayurveda promote this stature and find their audience in yoga adherents and others tapped into this wellness vein. For new product or brand development, being authentically part of a real Ayurvedic practice will be key if that positioning is desired. Alternatively, wellness brands that are picking and choosing healing ingredients—a pinch of ashwagandha here and a sprinkle of turmeric there—can still offer education, resources and supply chain assurances on marketing materials and websites to ground a product’s legitimate benefits.
On the culinary side, regional Indian cuisine flavors and forms connect diners to a deeper cultural context and offer great taste (especially in vegetarian fare), but as these ingredients become more familiar, they don’t always have to be dressed up in that fashion. Instead, they can be part of a broader approach to wellness that intelligently draws from multiple traditions.
Ultimately, Packaged Facts anticipates the biggest opportunities for such products lie in the functional health space, where tonics and elixirs offer refreshment with natural-feeling energy boosts and other benefits that are more subtle and long-term, like adaptogenic support.
Learn more about adaptogenic plants and Ayurvedic food & beverage across the culinary, foodservice and food retail markets in Cutting Edge Wellness: Culinary Trend Tracking Series, from Packaged Facts.