Reflective of broad consumer interest in boosting immunity and also rising interest in functional food, beverage and supplement products derived from inherently beneficial sources, demand for products containing elderberry has risen sharply during the pandemic.

As described in a recent article, "... interest in the purple berry has skyrocketed and expanded well beyond its use in syrups and supplements. Companies and analysts expect that growth to accelerate in 2021."

Already fairly common in cold remedy products, elderberry's migration into a wider range of consumable categories and preventative health routines underpins its recent performance. The popularity of botanical and plant-based products like elderberry stems from folk medicine traditions and consumer curiosity about plant-based ingredients themselves.

Within wellness culture, consumers have intrinsic beliefs in the connection between plants and health, a connection as old as humanity itself, since (until recently) most of our medicines came directly from plants. These beliefs extend back into ancient history, including evidence that Neanderthals used medicinal plants to alleviate pain, ease fevers and heal wounds.

Elderberry’s rise has been propelled by a current of demand formed at the convergence of several trends pre-dating COVID-19 — namely, interest in immunity benefits, food as medicine, inherently functional beverages and formats beyond pills.

These cultural shifts and COVID-19’s impact on them are key aspects of The Hartman Group’s research into health and functional solutions, which has underscored the importance of taste in functional product innovation. Underscoring elderberry’s popularity, our Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements report found that 11% of consumers said they were adding elderberry to their diet to boost immunity as either an ingredient or a supplement.

Elderberry’s ability to enhance flavor and hue is a standout (though not singular) feature of it as an ingredient and a salient reminder that as functional benefits move further into foods and beverages, products are succeeding by delivering health benefits and sensory appeal.

Further information:

Health + Wellness 2021: New syndicated study now fielding