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Ashwagandha in the Age of Stress

Albion Minerals®
Ashwagandha Ashwagandha

We are living through times of huge stress. As Innova Market Insights noted in 2020, “Recent events have had a significant effect on mental wellbeing, with many people facing increased rates of anxiety off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic.”1 Since then, of course, new sources of uncertainty have emerged—inflation, economic volatility and a seemingly unstable geopolitical situation.

This has changed the landscape for the food, beverage and supplements industries, which, according to Innova, are increasingly “playing a part in tackling mental unease, with mood-boosting products ranging from those formulated and promoted to aid a general ‘feel good’ factor to those targeting more specific mood worries, such as anxiety, stress and poor sleep.”2

Meanwhile, two thirds of global consumers are now interested in cognitive health products (up 13 percent from three years ago)3 with some analysts predicting that the nootropic market will grow at a CAGR of 13 percent to 2026.4

And if we drill down into the particular issues affecting consumers in particular generations, it’s even clearer why the need for solutions for cognitive health, stress and sleep is growing.

Generations Y and Z: Pushing Themselves to the Limit?

Millennials and zoomers in particular are exhibiting holistic approaches to wellness and pursuing a range of strategies to improve their sleep, stress levels and mental and emotional wellbeing.

Faced with a competitive jobs market, they’re pushing themselves hard – both in their careers and in their studies. And as well as working or studying for long periods, they often have responsibilities around care for others. A combination of these pressures can hugely affect stress levels and sleep quality, as well as putting a premium on cognitive performance.

In light of these challenges, coupled with experiences of the pandemic, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that around half of Millennials and zoomers say they feel stressed most of the time.5 And with 50 percent of Generation Z consumers planning to take steps to age healthily from an early age—the age of 20,6 many are turning to supplements and functional foods to improve their wellbeing.

Seniors: Staying Sharper for Longer

Meanwhile, we all know someone in their 70s or 80s whose mind is as sharp as ever. Maybe they’re still in paid employment (the number of people aged 75 or older in the labor force is expected to double by 20307), or perhaps volunteering for a cause that’s important to them.

With more people in these roles for longer, the drive is to stay healthy and productive. That doesn’t just apply to their mental sharpness but also to stress management, which has been associated with increased senior health and wellbeing.8 Like younger consumers, seniors are taking proactive approaches to their wellbeing, with cognitive health a priority.9 Reflecting this, the market for supplements with cognitive health benefits has seen rapid growth. In 2020, they accounted for one in four supplement launches in Australia and New Zealand, and one in six in Europe.10

Ashwagandha: Time-honored, Scientifically Proven, Familiar

With people at both ends of the generational spectrum actively looking for products that can support their emotional and cognitive wellbeing, the market is increasingly crowded. The best strategy for consumers (and one they’re increasingly adopting) is to choose products based on ingredients with scientifically substantiated benefits. Over half (51 percent) of Millennials and 45 percent of seniors say they do their own research into products and their ingredients.11

One ingredient that definitely passes the test is ashwagandha. Used in ayurveda for thousands of years to enhance focus and help reduce everyday stress,12 it’s one of the best-studied adaptogens, and has been shown to positively influence stress responses.13 Furthermore, six in 10 consumers across all age groups have heard of it, making it one of the best-known ingredients for cognitive support.11

Kerry’s Sensoril Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen derived from a unique blend of both the leaves and roots of ashwagandha for maximum efficacy. Studied in human clinical trials, it can help improve cognitive health, mood, and the quality of sleep, among other benefits. Sensoril is extracted using a specialized, water-based process, making it suitable for formulation in supplements, foods and beverages, like tablets, capsules, stick packs, gummies and sports nutrition blends with benefits for stress reduction and sleep support.

In an uncertain world, consumers’ needs are evolving rapidly. Population aging has shifted priorities; areas like sleep improvement and stress reduction are high on the agenda, and consumers are increasingly aware of the complex links between various health states. It’s not easy to imagine a future in which people’s lives are less stressful, but with scientifically proven ingredients like ashwagandha, nutrition brands can offer everyday products that support stress management and sleep—key benefits that promote cognitive health. NIE


1 Innova Market Insights ‘Mental and emotional wellbeing: Targeting the ‘feel good’ factor and specific mood needs’, November 2020.

2 Innova Market Insights ‘Mental and emotional wellbeing: Targeting the ‘feel good’ factor and specific mood needs’, November 2020.

3 FMCG Gurus ‘The Growing Importance of Cognitive Health’, 19th May 2021.

4 ‘Nootropics Market to Reach USD 5.32 Billion By 2026’ Reports and Data, Feb 19, 2020.

5 Deloitte Press Release ‘Half of UK Millennials and Gen Zs feel stressed most of the time, 16 June 2021.

6 Innova Market Insights: Trends Insider: Healthy Aging: Maximizing Wellbeing, 2021.

7 US Bureau of Labor Statistics ‘Number of people 75 and older in the labor force is expected to grow 96.5 percent by 2030’ Nov 4, 2021.

8 Verywell Mind, Stress Management for Senior Health, January 2021.

9 Vanoh D, Shahar S, Yahya HM, Che Din N, Mat Ludin AF, Ajit Singh DK, Sharif R, Rajab NF. Dietary Supplement Intake and Its Association with Cognitive Function, Physical Fitness, Depressive Symptoms, Nutritional Status and Biochemical Indices in a 3-Year Follow-Up Among Community Dwelling Older Adults: A Longitudinal Study. Clin Interv Aging. 2021 Jan 26;16:161-175.

10 Innova Market Insights, 2022.

11 Kerry Global Consumer Survey, Digestive, Immune and Joint Health, 2021.

12 Singh N, Bhalla M, de Jager P, Gilca M. An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):208-213. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9.

13 Lopresti, Adrian L. PhDa,b,*; Smith, Stephen J. MAa,b; Malvi, Hakeemudin MBBS, MDc; Kodgule, Rahul MBBSd ‘An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract’ Medicine, September 2019.

John Quilter has more than two decades’ experience in the agribusiness, food, beverage, nutrition and education sectors. In his current role, he manages the Kerry Proactive Health business unit which is responsible for Kerry’s ProActive Health portfolio.