Neuro-nutrition brand Nooro dipped into the market back in April with a pilot CBD snack bar – testing the waters with one flavour of lemon and ginger that also contained the mind boosting ingredients gingko and maca.
“We were Planet Organics single fastest selling snack product launch in the best part of 10 years, even with one SKU, we were still the biggest selling SKU,” J.D. Furlong, co-founder of Nooro tells Food Spark.
“From doing taste tests and sampling sessions we thought the CBD element was on trend and effective and useful, but it was the nootropics combined with the CBD that got people really excited.”
This prompted Nooro to push out NPD much quicker than they anticipated due to overwhelming demand.
Two new bars jumped on to shelves in July, all of which are vegan. There’s banana and cinnamon that contains the amino acid theanine which they say helps to prevent the brain from producing an anxious response to stressful situations, along with a cacao and coconut flavour that includes tyrosine, a mighty amino acid that is said to improve alertness, attention and focus.
NPD testing programme
Three more flavours are expected in the next two to three months. Furlong has been in the development kitchen working to overcome the bitter tastes that often accompany nootropics and CBD.
“We haven’t gone down the sweet route – as in a high sugar content route – which would be the easy way to do this, as you are then veering way outside of being any form of healthy,” he comments. “Coconut, ginger and cinnamon are the more interesting flavours and are what people want. There are endless amounts of date products on the market and we wanted to do something a little more different.”
One flavour he couldn’t manage to make work yet is mango and chilli.
“We have a no sulphite rule so we use apricots but raw. So we couldn’t get mango as an ingredient – one that wasn’t super sweet and two that didn’t have sulphites in it,” he explains. “We have got six flavours in development and we have a core group of Nooro people – the first couple of hundred customers in a testing programme so to speak. We send our flavours out to people unwrapped and ask for feedback. We do NPD quite widely, rather than guessing. Sticking NPD is core to what we do, not just in flavours but for the formulation of nootropics and CBD.”
While the bars are also stocked in Nature Intended, Revital and a number of independents, Furlong has his eye on taking Nooro national – revealing they are in discussions with a large high street chain that sells health products, as well as a big retailer.
Taking nootropics out of America
While CBD is capturing more of the mainstream imagination, Furlong says they are the only brand currently offering an accessible edible product in the UK.
“There are drinks but… we are the only company putting an effective dose of CBD into an edible product. But we are not in this to be using CBD as a marketing tool. We are absolutely advocates for the power of it, although it has to be bio available and in certain quantities,” he says. “Using the nootropics gives us a different slant on matters and we have designed the entire product to benefit brain health or certainly cognitive function.”
Nootropics is a concept that would be new to many consumers in the UK. Basically, it involves the use of drugs, supplements or other substances to improve cognitive functions like memory, creativity or motivation.
Furlong explains it’s a trend that has grown out of American university campuses where students would take legal and illegal versions of nootropics to give them a performance edge.
Nooro has taken this idea and applied it to its bars with the aim of encouraging snacking not just for health, but for the mind.
“It’s moving the conversation on from protein, it’s the nutrient we don’t need any more of, and moving into snacking for the mind,” he says. “So, taking the sugar down, increasing the fibre and using effective amounts of plant-based extracts whether its CBD, maca or tyrosine – there’s a whole range of nootropics that achieve a range of different things – and we’ve gone in with holistic approach on healthy eating for the mind.”
Where is nootropics headed?
Currently the team are investigating additional plant-based nootropics to include in future ranges but are quick to add its important to be transparent with the consumer and not overclaim any benefits.
“We think there will be quite a lot of focus on drifting towards nootropics, and people going to read ingredients more, and snacking and eating for whole body wellness, rather than to sate appetite in a quick way,” says Furlong. “It will not mainstream in the next three to six months, but within certain sectors where there’s that focus on health and wellness, there will be early adopters and we think it’s going to be quite prevalent there in the next six months.”
Nooro has four new products set to launch in quarter one next year too, but not all for the snacking category although they will be in the same aisle, adds Furlong.