Food Entrepreneur - May 12, 2020 - 4




when spirits are down

Consumers in crisis flock to food and beverage
products offering fun and functionality


hen in crisis, consumers crave
comfort. The current pandemic has pushed stressed
shoppers to stockpile familiar vices like
indulgent food and alcohol, for now reversing what had been a steady decline in
alcohol consumption. Yet there is nothing
like a health crisis to underscore the importance of health and longevity. As consumers' quest for self-optimization enters
a more mature phase, living healthy will
focus less on restrictive diets and more on
balance, bridging the traditional divide
between comfort and wellness categories.
This evolved consumer mindset provides
an opportunity for emerging brands
to create products that elevate daily
routines, optimize mental health and lift
spirits in more effective ways.
The beverage space already is
responding by bringing unique non-alcoholic drinks to the market. Emerging
brands like Seedlip and Partake Brewing
offer alternatives to alcohol's depressive
effects with alcohol-free spirits and craft

Natalie Shmulik is the chief executive officer
of The Hatchery Chicago, a food and beverage
incubator. Email

Food Business News

beers, providing sophisticated flavors
for sober-curious movements like Dry
January and Zero Proof. Big brands like
Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch also
have been expanding their portfolios to
include these new categories.
However, the food and beverage
space has a lot more to offer, especially in
these trying times. As feeling good and
optimizing mental health have become
the new cornerstones of wellness, innovative brands are developing approachable solutions that fit into consumers'
daily lives. Recognizing that traditional
wellness brands have created an environment where consumers are pressured
to "outwell" one another, Jen Batchelor,
founder of Kin Euphorics, discovered an
opportunity to make room for wellness in
the comfort food category.
Ms. Batchelor coined the term "euphorics" to describe her healing botanical-spiked cocktails and nightcaps that
raise the spirits without the regretful nextday hangover. Her unique blends of plant
extracts, cognitive-enhancing nootropics
and stress-relieving adaptogens help drinkers feel relaxed and mentally sharp. Most
importantly, the beneficial properties are
wrapped in the brand's promise of kinship
and conscious connection-making.
Connecting to the consumer is also
how Four Sigmatic landed on its successful footing in the US market, bringing
little-known healing mushrooms to
Americans' coffee cups. Tero Isokauppila,
chief executive officer of Four Sigmatic, is
a 13th-generation Finnish farmer whose
philosophy is rooted in understanding
the science behind the healing power of
nutrient-dense foods. The brand's line of
mushroom coffee and wholesome hot

chocolate mixes could have easily strayed
into the unattainable wellness niche -
but instead, they offer a fun upgrade to
consumers' favorite pick-me-ups. The
brand has succeeded in promoting functional fungi, selling millions of mushroom packets per year, thanks to its adept
use of conversational commerce to stay
attuned to its market.
Brands like Four Sigmatic and Kin
Euphorics have built trust with consumers, who have begun replacing indulgent
legacy brands and traditional sources of
temporary stress relief. Instead, they aim
for long-lasting results with products that
promote "getting enough sleep, reducing
stress and eating healthy," explained Mr.
Isokauppila. Leaning into foods' restorative nature also helps consumers shift
from "fight or flight to rest and digest,"
Ms. Batchelor said.
The brands help shoppers swap
empty calories for functional ones by
leading with their products' actionable
labels, such as Four Sigmatic's rest-promoting mushroom cacao, Chill, and Kin
Euphorics' Dream Light nightcap mixer.
Ultimately, they are offering a wellness
upgrade to staple standbys with pure
ingredients that support cognitive and
physical comfort on a molecular level.
In a tough economic climate, brands
may fear entering the wellness niche with
its oft-exclusive price point. However, the
current crisis presents a real opportunity to launch hybrid products that offer
comfort along with genuine benefits in
boosting immunity, reducing stress and
promoting rest and relaxation. As the
industry continues to navigate unknowns,
entrepreneurs can pioneer new ways to
treat consumers to a little peace of mind. ▪
May 12, 2020


Food Entrepreneur - May 12, 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Entrepreneur - May 12, 2020

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