Natural Products Expo West
‘Gigantic’ untapped menopause market offers new frontier for food as medicine
According to research by GenM, a UK-based organization fostering product development through brand partnerships for perimenopausal and menopausal people, the vast majority of people experiencing related symptoms feel overlooked by society, were blindsided by the experience, and say they would benefit from brands being “more inclusive and catering better to menopause.”
A natural part of aging that typically occurs when estrogen levels in people with a uterus decline between the ages of 40 of 55, perimenopause and menopause can wreak havoc on the body – triggering hot flashes, mood swings, brain fog, insomnia, weight gain, muscle and joint pain, anxiety and other life altering symptom – and yet, 91% of women surveyed by GenM say they have never seen specific advertising or marketing for menopausal products.
A handful of food and beverage brands at Natural Products Expo West are rising to meet this need and reshape the conversation about perimenopause and menopause in the US – bringing it out of the shadows and empowering those undergoing related changes to both better manage and share their experiences and needs.
A ‘gigantic’ market
The market potential for products addressing perimenopause and menopause is “gigantic,” with 53 million people going through both in the US currently and 50% of the population likely to go through it at some point, Noelle Lopez, director of growth at Bossa Bars, told FoodNavigator-USA at Natural Products Expo West.
“We know that the UK is ahead of the US in the conversation around menopause, but the US is rapidly catching up, and we know that women in Gen X are driving this as they look for solutions that aren’t coming from the larger companies or the medical community. They don’t want to go through this and suffer like their mothers. They want a solution,” she said.
And Bossa Bar, which is rebranding as menowell, is offering one, she added.
She explained that menowell snack bars are one of the first functional foods for menopause and are made with ingredients that directly address many of the symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause.
“Our main ingredient is maca, which helps balance hormones, so that brings down the severity and frequency of many different symptoms. We also have 29% of a woman’s daily fiber needs, so that helps you feel full and brings down cravings. So, when you eat our double chocolate brownie, you don’t want to go right back for another one. You actually feel satisfied.
“Our products also have plant protein, which is important because in menopause you start losing muscle mass, so this helps you maintain what you have built and when you are working out, doing weight bearing exercises. Plus, it helps boost metabolism,” Lopez said.
The bars also have “a little bit of spinach and kale in there,” flaxseed to support heart health, MCT oil for brain fog and satiety and for responsible decadence the bars have organic cacao nibs and dates for natural sweetness, she said.
Tea Botanics offers fast relief with ‘mental magic’ from GABA
Another product that directly targets the symptoms of menopause is Tea Botanics, which are doctor-formulated organic teas that combine organic gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA) oolong leaves with other herbs, such as echinacea, black cohosh and wild yam.
The line includes Hot Flash Tea, Night Sweat Tea, Brain Fog Tea, and Happiness Tea, which addresses stress and anxiety.
Unlike supplements that can take upwards of 45 days to provide relief, Tea Botanics’ teas can offer relief as quickly as 30 minutes and drive notable change within days, said Denise Pines, company founder and president of the Medical Board of California.
She explained this is possible because of the teas’ “mental magic,” or potency levels of GABA that are high enough to pass through the blood brain barrier and help replenish naturally generated gamma amino acid in the brain which decreases as people age.
Pines discovered the benefit of GABA oolong tea after she experienced her first hot flash, which she said “shocked” her, and complained to her doctor, who recommended the tea. Impressed by how quickly it relieved her symptoms she began working with Dr. Pei Vuong, who runs a natural and integrative clinic in Southern California, to source, formulate and clinically study the tea.
Changing the conversation around menopause
Both menowell and Tea Botanics want to change the conversation around menopause from one that is negative and whispered – if discussed at all – to one that is open, educational and empowering. Both this with vibrant packaging, positive brand messaging and direct consumer education and outreach.
When menowell originally launched as Bossa Bar the idea was to help people “menopause like a boss” by providing a much-needed proactive solution. But, Lopez said, many consumers didn’t understand that Bossa Bars focused on menopause – they thought they were just better-for-you snack bars.
“Menowell is much more descriptive and our customers understand what it is trying to do. Also, the rebrand will allow us to go beyond bars at some point,” she explained, noting the new branding will begin rolling out in June.
The company also hosts weekly live shows on Instagram – MenoLounge Talks – with menopause experts and advocates that have racked up more than 85,000 views.
Tea Botanics also actively educates consumers through a blog, its website and a live event called WisePause, which includes conversations with doctors in front of women, Pines said. She adds she has an ambitious goal of appearing on a morning talk show within the year to bring the conversation about menopause and Tea Botanics out in the open “in a big way.”
The brands’ packaging also is colorful, uses approachable language and has clear direction about how to make and use the tea – all of which Pines says makes the product equally appealing to consumers and retailers, including Walgreens, where the product will be stocked by the end of this month.
When it comes to store placement, both brands want to be at eye level – rather than hidden on a bottom shelf where menopause treatments currently are tucked. They also both plan to expand distribution in the coming year across natural retailers, in drugstores and eventually more mainstream channels.