Get ready for foods that boost your mood.
What it is: Functional foods offer health benefits beyond nutritional value. A subset of this sector, “good mood foods” include bars and beverages that integrate adaptogens, such as ginseng and ashwagandha, to provide stress support and anxiety relief.
At the same time, consumers are getting a better grasp on the link between what we eat and how we feel; following both trend and research on gut-brain connection, microbiome startups have raised over $1B in VC in the past five years.
As we gravitate toward putting more natural things into our bodies, many are picking up functional, mood-lifting foods. Partnering with Headspace this March, Whole Foods Market underlined public sentiment, emphasizing the link between mood and food and finding that over 79% of consumers want to eat more mindfully.
After a year of converging crises—a global pandemic, worsening climate change, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval—US functional food sales increased by nearly 10%, and the industry is estimated to eclipse $229B by 2027. It’s not hard to see why brands are diving in:
- Last month, Smpl debuted its line of functional nutrition snack bars for “every mood,” from mental clarity to reduced anxiety/stress.
- Earlier this year, Sakara Life ($15M) and Mindright ($1.8M) closed million-dollar funding rounds.
- On the beverage side, Breakthru Beverage Group partnered with Recess in August to expand into CBD and relaxation, while plant-powered Sunwink rolled out into retail in September.
Elsewhere, a wide array of upstarts promise something for every taste palate, from PYM mood chews to myAir’s stress-relief and Moody’s feelgood ice cream.
Food-as-a-tool. Of note, good mood food founders assert that their products aren’t meant to replace medication or therapy.
Zak Williams, son of actor Robin Williams, started PYM after struggling with his father’s high-profile suicide. Explaining his motivations, Williams stated that his gummies are meant to be another tool in consumers’ mental health toolboxes — not the only one.
Punchline: Mental health is getting a food boost. From psychedelic tourism to teletherapy and now to good mood foods, the future of mental health treatment looks increasingly holistic. And that could be cause for a feast.