08 May 2024, 12:57 PM
  • Herbal sleep remedies and mood-enhancing drinks are no longer just for health food stores says Sally-Jayne Wright
Trend Watch: Mood improving drinks

In the UK it’s estimated that between 13 million and 15 million women are either entering menopause, or menopausal. Four out of five will seek help for symptoms but only a small percentage will take HRT. 

As many explore alternative fixes for low mood, insomnia, and brain fog, so a plethora of bespoke drinks has appeared. One such example launched in May 2023, is Twinings Menopause Cool Moments tea, with lemon balm for anxiety and insomnia, and sage for brain fog. A bestseller at Holland and Barrett, it’s also at Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

Menopausal women aren’t alone in seeking help for low mood, insomnia and poor concentration, are they?

No. About one in three adults in the West experience sleep problems weekly or more (NICE) which makes them feel tired and less effective at work. 

What’s behind the mood-boosting drinks trend?

- Consumers consider mental health alongside diet and exercise in their personal health management (Mintel)

- Greater openness about menopause after celebrity-fronted #MenopauseRevolution campaigns

- Awareness that coffee and sugar lift mood temporarily but cause insomnia and energy dips

What promises do these mood drinks make?

Drinks entrepreneurs tend to have a flavour for each desired mental state, from calm, to alertness.

Can you give us an example?

Made in Germany, the Rokit range of drinks (in cans and Nespresso machine-compatible pods) includes a Sweet Dreams decaf coffee infused with passion flower and valerian ‘to promote a good night’s sleep’. There are also two cold brew coffees: Mind Boost with added B vitamins for enhanced mental performance, and Energy Uplift with Guarana and Taurine to help reduce fatigue.

Let’s start with better sleep. Whose drinks do you like?

We like drinks backed by science and there’s clinical research linking magnesium to better sleep. At IFE 2024, we discovered a nutritional supplement company called Better You, which specialises in Vitamin D and magnesium. At the end of 2023, it made its first move into food and drink with non-carbonated Magnesium Water. Each can contains half your recommended daily allowance of magnesium, and there are three variants including one called Hydrate aimed at poor sleepers. 

What about drinks to elevate mood? Can CBD drinks give our customers a high? 

No. They might think so from the sexy, illicit-sounding product names and psychedelic packaging, but the psychoactive THC has been extracted. 

So what do CBD drinks do?

Allegedly, they help to improve mental well-being. Eoin Keenan, CEO of the UK’s fastest-growing CBD drinks brand, Good Rays, says you need at least 25mg of CBD to derive any benefit. Good Rays offers a market leading 30mg.

In October 2023, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) lowered the recommended daily maximum dosage of CBD from 70mg to 10mg. Most CBD drinks contain more than 10mg. It is legal to sell them just as it’s legal to sell strong alcohol and cream cakes. 

If you prefer to play it safe, Intune’s Pomegranate & Ginger sparkling, canned CBD drink fits the bill. Women’s Health reported that ‘it has the zing you need for a pick-me-up, while also containing 10mg of CBD for relaxation and focus.’ Equally important, in our view, it earned itself one Great Taste Award star.

Are CBD drinks still classed as novel foods?

Yes, as are all CBD edibles. Eoin Keenan, says. “The benefit of the Novel Food (approval) process is that the FSA have been able to remove products that do not meet the required standards. This has cleaned up the CBD landscape and helped to build trust with consumers.” Incidentally, you are still not allowed to promote CBD drinks on Instagram, Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).

Which drinks can we stock that boost mental alertness?

Look for ‘shroom’ coffees containing lion’s mane, an adaptogen clinically proven to improve brain function and productivity. Or turn to the Better You range. Its Magnesium Water, Focus variant, with blueberry and mint flavour, is our favourite of the brand’s beverages.

Got anything specifically for menopause?

Could you put an iced menopause tea on the café menu? D’Amazonia and Hot Tea Mama are two brands aimed at this market. Both are based on natural herbs.

How can we use the trend to put our accountants in a better frame of mind?

- Mention mood-enhancing benefits in menu copy, for example, say that the L-theanine in tea raises serotonin and dopamine

- Know your customer. People over 65 are less likely to buy functional drinks (Mintel research in the US)

To help sway purchase, look for products supported by clinical trials. 

Will the trend last?

Since peaking between 2019 and 2020, launches of new food and drink products claiming functional benefits have plateaued globally (Mintel). There is a gap between actual consumption and interest in consuming; Mintel suggests that’s because functional drinks tend to be expensive and household budgets are stretched (Mintel December 2023).

Yet, new products draw customers to the shelves. While health food stores will be guided by customer demand, fine food retailers may want to tread carefully. Show you’re aware of the mood-boosting trend but don’t stock anything too woo-woo.