Consumers continue to seek functional food, beverage, and beauty products. Mintel’s research data showed that 73% of adults consume drinks promoting an added functional benefit. Furthermore, “Emotional/Mental Health” was among the top three sought-after benefits from foods and beverages by Gen Z. 33% said they consumed foods/beverages that are supposed to reduce stress, according to International Food Council’s (IFIC) 2022 Food and Health Survey. Mood-boosting ingredients with calming effects such as Hinoki, Hojicha, and Saffron are three ingredients to keep an eye on.
Hinoki is a Japanese cypress of the Chamaecyparis obtusa genus. Native to Japan, Hinoki wood is a popular building material for Japanese temples, shrines, and bathhouses. The scent is described as green, woody, citrus, and lemony. With its fragrant scent, antiseptic qualities, and calming effect, Hinoki essential oils are often used in skin care. Although popular in Japan, Hinoki is an emerging ingredient in the U.S. appearing in fine fragrance, body care, and home fragrance. Boy Smells recently introduced Hinoki Fantôme fine fragrance. The woody and earthy scent features black pepper, olibanum, tobacco leaves, orris, Cyprus, hinoki, fir balsam, patchouli, oakmoss, smoked leather, cypriol, and cistus. Subscription-based fragrance company The Scents of Wood offers a Hinoki in Hinoki fragrance, which is “inspired by Chiaki Nomura’s heritage and one of Japan’s most treasured gems.” Tatcha debuted the Forest Awakening Collection, the brand’s first-ever body care collection. The range is offered in three products: Hinoki Body Milk, Hinoki Body Oil, and Hinoki Body Wash. Heretic Parfum recently launched a Dirty Hinoki candle with notes of lemon, cedar, nutmeg, thyme, pine, hinoki, cypress, elemi, wormwood, fir absolute, ambrettolide, balsam, and frankincense. By Rosie Jane’s latest candle scent is Dulce, which features notes of vanilla, hinoki wood, and nude musk.
Hojicha is Japanese green tea roasted over charcoal. The distinct taste is described as having a smoky flavor with nutty undertones and notes of cocoa. High in antioxidants and L-theanine, the tea is known to support immune health and aid in stress relief. The popularity of green tea and matcha continues. Hojicha is the latest evolution with new launches appearing. Consumers are catching on. According to Yelp, searches for hojicha were up +38%. Numi Organic Tea launched a Roasted Japanese Green Tea Line in four varieties: Hojicha Roasted, Kukicha Roasted, Matcha Toasted Rice, and Yuzu Bancha Roasted. Packaged in plant-based compostable wrappers, the teas are ethically sourced and climate neutral. Twrl M!lk Tea introduced three nitro-infused plant-based milk teas formulated with pea milk and sweetened with agave syrup. The teas are available in Hojicha Roasted Green, Original Black, and Supreme Jasmine flavors. For the new year, as a limited offer, Starbucks in Japan released a Japanese Chai Tea Latte inspired by the Indian Masala Chai. Starbucks’ version featured a hot hojicha latte seasoned with yuzu citrus, mandarin orange peel, ginger, and sansho.
Saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices from the crocus sativus known as the “saffron crocus.” It is believed that saffron originated in Greece, but currently, Iran is the largest producer. Subtle and fragrant with sweet floral and earthy nuances and a yellow hue, saffron is often used in cooking. Rich in antioxidants, saffron is said to help boost mood and suppress appetite. According to Innova Market Insights, 36% of consumers believe functional food and beverages can improve or enhance their mood. Saffron is the fastest-growing herb or spice and is appearing in beverages. Saffron Mist by Island Sweetwater Beverage Company is a saffron-flavored soft drink inspired by traditional lemon-lime sodas. The beverage is made with only five simple, natural ingredients. Plant Veda Cashew Milk Saffron Cardamom is a dairy-free, cholesterol-free, and gluten-free beverage made from organic cashews, saffron, cardamom, and pistachio nuts. Inspired by Shams, a popular Persian non-alcoholic functional brew, UK brand Ticket offers a heady blend of malted barley, hops, yeast, saffron, lavender, and orange. Indian brand Smoke Lab Vodka is expanding to the U.S. The vodka is available in Aniseed and Classic flavors with Saffron in the pipeline. Saffron is also appearing in the fragrance arena. Emme Essentials has a Saffron candle that features notes of saffron, tobacco, and white tea.
Mental health and well-being are top priorities for consumers as they seek functional food and beverage. Keep your eyes peeled for new food, beverage, and beauty products that are formulated with Hinoki, Hojicha, and Saffron ingredients.