Many of today’s busy consumers are juggling their careers, families and social lives while striving to maintain healthy lifestyles, both physically and mentally. Food and diet play an essential role in this, with innovation increasingly looking to support consumer choices as many endeavor to balance the benefits and costs of these hectic lifestyles. This, in turn, raises the demand for nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, convenient and portable, while indulgent treats also play a role in relaxation and enjoyment, according to food and beverage market research firm Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, the Netherlands.

The “Right Bite” is one of Innova Market Insights’ top trends for 2020, reflecting how foods and drinks supporting lifestyle choices can fall into a number of areas. These foods and drinks all aim to help those wishing to embrace healthy lifestyles, balance busy schedules and/or reject their current lifestyles and search for change.

Consumers embracing a healthy lifestyle tend to love having many things do and are dedicated (working long hours, exercising, etc.), but need to plan their time efficiently to get the best benefits, Innova Market Insights said. Healthy snacks, energy-boosting foods/drinks and on-the-go foods and beverages are all of interest, with high protein and energy claims of particular significance.

According to the company’s data, global snacking launches featuring claims of high protein had a compound annual growth (CAGR) rate of 16.8% between 2015 and 2019, while the use of energy/alertness claims rose 13.7% over the same time period. Consumers seeking healthier lifestyles also strived to find a balance between health and indulgence, while also looking for individual needs and preferences to be met, including the development of more balanced and complete concepts in terms of their nutritional needs.

Balancing busy lifestyles is necessary as consumers live life to the full and benefit from this reality, but feel that it also takes a toll on them, with “fast” lifestyles also necessitating compromise and rebalancing, Innova Market Insights said. Convenience is key in this area, prompting a demand for meals that are easy to prepare and cook, which in turn provides opportunities for ready meals and meal kits. The demand for home-cooked food has boosted interest in meal kits, with 28% growth in the number of launches tracked globally by Innova Market Insights (CAGR, 2015-2019).

On the other hand, consumers looking for a change in lifestyle are likely to increasingly distract and distance themselves from their busy lives and try to wind down. Emotional comfort is key here, with interest in comforting, relaxing and sleep-inducing food and drinks, particularly carrying mood, energy and sleep improving claims.

Stress and anxiety are key concerns in modern life as awareness of their negative impact on mental and physical health grows. In a 2019 “Innova Consumer Survey,” 39% of U.S. consumers claimed to experience stress at least once a day. Industry response has included more products targeted at improving low mood, tiredness and fatigue and sleep.