Period power: The 30+ startups supporting feminine wellness with food

Period power: The 30+ startups supporting feminine wellness with food

By
Louise Burfitt
December 7, 2021

🌙 What is it? 

  • That time of the month. Aunt Flo. I’ve got the painters and decorators in. Or simply, ‘I’m on’. Periods - or menstruation, to use the scientific term - have long been cloaked in shame and euphemism, for a whole bunch of reasons
  • Yet the average woman, or person who menstruates, experiences 450 periods in a lifetime. That makes women's health a pretty big opportunity which is still relatively underserved. 
  • From menstruation apps to mood-balancing bites - there’s plenty of space for food-based solutions to play their part in the growing women’s health category.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • The last decade has seen some of that stigma fade away as femtech innovations like cycle tracking apps and period pants have brought awareness to female health issues.
  • Food and beverage brands haven’t traditionally targeted period-specific products, but that cycle is changing with a significant number of food and wellness startups targeting feminine health at all stages of life. 
  • From hormone-balancing supplements to prenatal teas to menopause remedies and cramp-purging snacks, let’s meet the womxn’s wellness brands painting the town red.

📈 The figures

  • The female health market is a $1 trillion global opportunity, yet nearly every market within it is ripe for innovation. 
  • And the femtech market reached $22.5 billion in 2020 and will expand at around 16.2% CAGR during 2021 to 2027.
  • Despite digital health investment reaching over $14bn dollars last year, femtech funding made up only $254m of this - leaving room to grow.
Source: https://femtechfocus.org/resources/

🤷 Why?

  • Periods - and related issues in female health - have historically been stigmatised, with sanitary product brands using a mysterious blue liquid in their advertising as a substitute for blood, and words like ‘discreet’ and ‘feminine hygiene’ commonly thrown around as euphemisms. But with increased openness among younger consumers, young brands are less concerned with taboos and more interested in busting stereotypes with forward-looking, innovative, inclusive products. And with 51% of the world’s population having periods, brands are waking up to the opportunity. 
  • The growth in food-related products for periods, menopause and beyond is linked to the trend for consumers to treat their bodies as a holistic ecosystem, as research by Mintel puts it. Shoppers are looking for solutions that will work together with their body’s natural cycles and which treat menstruation as one part of a whole. 
  • There’s also the shift towards ‘natural’ remedies with several brands capitalising on consumers’ desire for herbal solutions and food-based cures with supplements, snacks, and other food products that aim to ease period pain and other female ailments without the use of traditional medicine. This is particularly popular among millennials and Gen Z consumers. 
  • In the past, most period products have been made by men. Oh, the irony. But there’s a growing number of female-owned period brands using food and wellness supplements to empower customers and shake up the status quo. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • The food-based femcare market represents a sprawling segment catering to many different customer categories, whether that's supplements for expectant or new mothers (Ritual), lactation cookies for those that breastfeed (Booby Boons) or people experiencing the menopause (Womaness). 
  • A wave of startups are providing natural relief for period pain and other reproductive ailments in response to growing interest among wellness fans and younger consumers for chemical-free remedies. De Lune is an American menstrual wellness brand that has developed a drug-free, research-backed cure for cramps. Circles in France also sells herbal supplements to treat various menstrual ailments, while We The Trillions has an entire meal and snack range targeting different female health issues from anaemia (often linked to heavy periods) to IBS to fertility. Female pain is often overlooked, but these brands - and more - are making sure their needs are heard.
  • Bigger brands are also jumping on the trend, with Nestlé developing Bloom Cycle and Kraft Heinz designing a new drink to aid menstrual health, currently named Period. 
  • Supplements, vitamin powders and pills are increasingly popular, straddling the line between health, wellness, beauty and food. These also play into the millennial and Gen Z desire for natural, holistic options that are focused on mental and physical wellbeing as a whole. Moom Health, which sells personalised supplements from Singapore, describes its offering as ‘expert-backed, natural remedies for body and mind’ while Tapestry, an early stage venture-backed startup, aims to reimagine the future of female health through nutrition.
  • On that note, personalisation is a growing industry in the period segment - following on from the rise in personalised nutrition more widely. For some, that means going digital: Flo Living both offer app tracking alongside supplements. For others, it’s about tailored nutrition - like Guud’s personalised feminine supplements to reduce hormonal acne.
  • Health foods and aids aside, several brands are focusing on indulgence, bringing a touch of decadence and pleasure to a niche that has historically been centred around pain. Chica Chocolate and Frauenmond Chocolate both make fortified dark chocolate full of antioxidants and with extra health benefits for those on their period or undergoing the menopause. And BelliWelli are doing the same with their fun and colourful branded brownie bars, that have the added advantage of settling stomach cramps.
  • Similarly, many of these female-led startups are choosing to market their products with messages of empowerment and inclusivity, rather than the traditional taboo-informed messaging of previous period products. FemBites in Germany - who sell chocolate as well as fruit gummies - describe their products as ‘female superfoods’ and Marea in the USA adorn their PMS elixir powders with the slogan ‘cycle support for the empowered’. Womaness are shedding light on the underlooked menopause - rebranding it as a time of ‘menopositivity’ instead. The new wave of F&B period brands is positive, empowered, inclusive - and a world away from the shame-based advertising of yesteryear.

👀 Who? (31 companies in this space)

  • Agni (cookies, teas and seasonings to support female health, USA)
  • &Me (menstrual drinks and supplements, India) 
  • Beeya™ (products to target hormonal imbalances, USA)
  • Bears Benefits (female focussed and supplements, Germany)
  • BelliWelli (stomach-settling snack bars, USA)
  • Bloom Cycle by Nestlé (menstrual snacks, Netherlands)
  • Booby Boons (lactation support products, Canada) 
  • Chica Chocolate (chocolate with Chinese herbs for periods through menopause, USA) 
  • Circles (herbal cures for menstrual ailments, France) 
  • De Lune (herbal menstrual pills and powders, USA) 
  • Elix Healing (cycle-balancing herbal supplements, USA) 
  • FemBites (female superfoods, Germany)
  • Flo Living (tracking and supplements, USA) 
  • Food Period Moon Bites (organic snacks for menstruation, USA)
  • Frauenmond Chocolate (dark chocolate aimed at female wellbeing, Switzerland)
  • Guud (tailored supplements to decrease hormonal acne, Belgium)
  • Her1 (gut-boosting health foods, Germany) 
  • High5 (nutritious granola for period health, India)
  • HotTea Mama (period and postpartum teas, UK)
  • Imbue Natural (reproductive care products, India)
  • InnoNature (female health, wellness and beauty products, Germany) 
  • Jolly Mama (several lines in female nutrition, France)
  • Marea (multivitamin powder to reduce PMS, USA)
  • Moom Health (personalised female supplements, Singapore)
  • Moon Juice (female health supplements, USA)
  • Nutrizoe (plant-based bars for lactating women, India)
  • Period by Kraft Heinz (period-oriented cocoa drink, USA) 
  • Pure Ella by Pure Good (female focussed supplements, Germany)
  • Ritual (prenatal and postnatal vitamins for mothers, USA) 
  • Tapestry (early stage venture-backed women's health startup, USA)
  • we the Trillions (customised meals and snacks to enhance feminine health, USA) 
  • Womaness (menopause products, USA)
  • Wile (plant-based female wellness brand, USA)

💸 Most Funded: Female Health x Food Startups

Data from Crunchbase

🧠 What insiders are saying 

A quick chat with Jessica Karr the 12th employee at Impossible Foods and now founder of the newly launched Coyote Ventures - focussed on backing early stage companies that are innovating in women’s health and wellness.

What made you want to transition from foodtech to femtech?
"Food tech is no longer an emerging industry, it has matured. Women's health on the other hand has been marginalized due to the historic lack of representation of women in STEM and finance. With these tides changing, there's an explosion of women innovating for their own needs. Working in FemTech to me is to directly work on issues in gender equality. Also the companies are very science focused and with large market sizes, nicely fitting with the traditional VC model."
What business opportunities do you see in the intersection of foodtech x women health?
"There's a lot of room to collaborate as the women's health segment grows. Many food tech entrepreneurs are leveraging their CPG knowledge and connections to widely expand the category and shelf space. There are also overlapping technologies, such as cell culture for breast milk."
We're in the early innings of femtech - what do you predict is to come in the next 2-3 years?
"Right now the early pioneers of women's health have to educate consumers and investors. In a few years, we will all have a better understanding of topics in women's health and will be more focused on scaling companies.
When there is 1-2 competitors to a startup we tend to be very skeptical of how they will gain market share, despite massive market sizes. In the future we'll better understand how customers are segmented. We will also have improved marketing strategies. Womens health startups are having trouble with the current Facebook and Google ads marketing funnel, and I don't think this is the way of the future. There are innovations in advertising that I think will much improve companies routes to get in front of customers."

🍪 Case study: Food Period 

  • Food Period does what it says on the tin: providing functional food products, full of natural goodness, that honour and support the female cycle. 
  • Speaking to Forbes, the founders said their mission is to ‘to make natural, food-based solutions as easily accessible to womxn as pharmaceuticals.’
  • Their flagship product? Moon Bites, designed around a wellness practice known as ‘seed syncing’ which recommends consuming certain seeds at different times of the month to maintain an optimal hormonal balance. 
  • Based in New York City, the brand launched in 2018 with a period subscription box and now sells their Moon Bites in packs alongside Moon Mylk, an adaptogenic powdered hot drink to boost moods and energy. 
  • Prices start at a relatively accessible $23 and subscribers have reported improved sleep, more regular periods, fewer cramps and decreased mood swings among the benefits - although the Food Period founders themselves are keen to point out that the scientific research into these issues is limited. 

👭 Case study: &Me 

  • From the USA to India, where startup &Me fuses Ayurvedic medicine with modern science to make bioactive beverages aimed at solving problems related to periods, diet and fertility. 
  • This is an especially big deal in India, where menstruation discrimination is part of the lived experience of many who have periods, and taboos are much stronger than in the west. 
  • The startup was founded in 2017 and has raised $2.1m in funding to date.
  • In 2020 the company launched its own period box, filled with comfort food, period tea as well as necessities like sanitary pads. 
  • &Me’s remedies are backed by expert research, with solutions designed for PCOS, pre and postnatal care, period pain and vaginal health among others. Products include menstrual teas made with soothing ingredients, drinks, probiotics and chocolate. The company even offers a free call with an expert to its customers. 
  • By offering a solution-driven and research-led approach that recognises the diversity of female health needs, &Me is an Indian trailblazer.
Source: &Me

👍 The good

  • F&B brands focusing on feminine health issues are performing a public service as well as providing a useful product: bringing attention to the underappreciated, under-researched area of female health. Products targeted at the menopause, infertility and endometriosis, among others, are bringing these hidden issues to the surface and giving womxn a voice and a choice. 
  • Now is probably the ideal time to be launching an innovative F&B period product or offering, as Gen Z come of age and start spending their disposable income. Innovations like period pants and cycle tracking have been on the scene for some time, but food-based period and wellness products are relatively new and there’s still plenty of room for newcomers to make waves. 
  • Challenger brands can also vye it out with bigger brands (like Kraft Heinz’s period cocoa) only just cottoning on to the trend, and are more likely to sound authentic and real than large corporate conglomerates. 
  • And remember that the average person who menstruates spends 10 years on their period. Women and womxn also spend 29% more on their health than men, so feminine wellness and food brands are well-placed to grab some of that share.

👎 The bad

  • That said, women and people with cycles are underrepresented in research and medical trials - which can make it hard for brands to verify their medical claims or even come up with relevant products in the first place. Thankfully, this is slowly changing. 
  • On the topic of making health and nutritional claims, food and supplement startups should be aware of regulatory issues and the costs of setting up in different territories. 
  • And while the wave of womxn-owned startups is undoubtedly a great thing, there are still hurdles to scale. Startup equity is granted to females at a rate of $0.47 to every man’s $1, and female founders are much less likely to receive VC funding. 

 💡 The bottom line

  • More power to the period: as Gen Z come of age and join their millennial counterparts in expecting holistic cycle-based food and wellness products, femtech food brands can anticipate new, engaged and informed customers.
  • And as adoption grows, other (older) consumers are likely to get interested too, with issues like the menopause also gaining attention and inspiring new product launches. 
  • Ultimately, brands that promote holistic wellness, female bodily autonomy, inclusivity and natural care will come out on top - what was once deemed embarrassing is fast becoming empowering.

How did you like today's Trends?

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🌙 What is it? 

  • That time of the month. Aunt Flo. I’ve got the painters and decorators in. Or simply, ‘I’m on’. Periods - or menstruation, to use the scientific term - have long been cloaked in shame and euphemism, for a whole bunch of reasons
  • Yet the average woman, or person who menstruates, experiences 450 periods in a lifetime. That makes women's health a pretty big opportunity which is still relatively underserved. 
  • From menstruation apps to mood-balancing bites - there’s plenty of space for food-based solutions to play their part in the growing women’s health category.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • The last decade has seen some of that stigma fade away as femtech innovations like cycle tracking apps and period pants have brought awareness to female health issues.
  • Food and beverage brands haven’t traditionally targeted period-specific products, but that cycle is changing with a significant number of food and wellness startups targeting feminine health at all stages of life. 
  • From hormone-balancing supplements to prenatal teas to menopause remedies and cramp-purging snacks, let’s meet the womxn’s wellness brands painting the town red.

📈 The figures

  • The female health market is a $1 trillion global opportunity, yet nearly every market within it is ripe for innovation. 
  • And the femtech market reached $22.5 billion in 2020 and will expand at around 16.2% CAGR during 2021 to 2027.
  • Despite digital health investment reaching over $14bn dollars last year, femtech funding made up only $254m of this - leaving room to grow.
Source: https://femtechfocus.org/resources/

🤷 Why?

  • Periods - and related issues in female health - have historically been stigmatised, with sanitary product brands using a mysterious blue liquid in their advertising as a substitute for blood, and words like ‘discreet’ and ‘feminine hygiene’ commonly thrown around as euphemisms. But with increased openness among younger consumers, young brands are less concerned with taboos and more interested in busting stereotypes with forward-looking, innovative, inclusive products. And with 51% of the world’s population having periods, brands are waking up to the opportunity. 
  • The growth in food-related products for periods, menopause and beyond is linked to the trend for consumers to treat their bodies as a holistic ecosystem, as research by Mintel puts it. Shoppers are looking for solutions that will work together with their body’s natural cycles and which treat menstruation as one part of a whole. 
  • There’s also the shift towards ‘natural’ remedies with several brands capitalising on consumers’ desire for herbal solutions and food-based cures with supplements, snacks, and other food products that aim to ease period pain and other female ailments without the use of traditional medicine. This is particularly popular among millennials and Gen Z consumers. 
  • In the past, most period products have been made by men. Oh, the irony. But there’s a growing number of female-owned period brands using food and wellness supplements to empower customers and shake up the status quo. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • The food-based femcare market represents a sprawling segment catering to many different customer categories, whether that's supplements for expectant or new mothers (Ritual), lactation cookies for those that breastfeed (Booby Boons) or people experiencing the menopause (Womaness). 
  • A wave of startups are providing natural relief for period pain and other reproductive ailments in response to growing interest among wellness fans and younger consumers for chemical-free remedies. De Lune is an American menstrual wellness brand that has developed a drug-free, research-backed cure for cramps. Circles in France also sells herbal supplements to treat various menstrual ailments, while We The Trillions has an entire meal and snack range targeting different female health issues from anaemia (often linked to heavy periods) to IBS to fertility. Female pain is often overlooked, but these brands - and more - are making sure their needs are heard.
  • Bigger brands are also jumping on the trend, with Nestlé developing Bloom Cycle and Kraft Heinz designing a new drink to aid menstrual health, currently named Period. 
  • Supplements, vitamin powders and pills are increasingly popular, straddling the line between health, wellness, beauty and food. These also play into the millennial and Gen Z desire for natural, holistic options that are focused on mental and physical wellbeing as a whole. Moom Health, which sells personalised supplements from Singapore, describes its offering as ‘expert-backed, natural remedies for body and mind’ while Tapestry, an early stage venture-backed startup, aims to reimagine the future of female health through nutrition.
  • On that note, personalisation is a growing industry in the period segment - following on from the rise in personalised nutrition more widely. For some, that means going digital: Flo Living both offer app tracking alongside supplements. For others, it’s about tailored nutrition - like Guud’s personalised feminine supplements to reduce hormonal acne.
  • Health foods and aids aside, several brands are focusing on indulgence, bringing a touch of decadence and pleasure to a niche that has historically been centred around pain. Chica Chocolate and Frauenmond Chocolate both make fortified dark chocolate full of antioxidants and with extra health benefits for those on their period or undergoing the menopause. And BelliWelli are doing the same with their fun and colourful branded brownie bars, that have the added advantage of settling stomach cramps.
  • Similarly, many of these female-led startups are choosing to market their products with messages of empowerment and inclusivity, rather than the traditional taboo-informed messaging of previous period products. FemBites in Germany - who sell chocolate as well as fruit gummies - describe their products as ‘female superfoods’ and Marea in the USA adorn their PMS elixir powders with the slogan ‘cycle support for the empowered’. Womaness are shedding light on the underlooked menopause - rebranding it as a time of ‘menopositivity’ instead. The new wave of F&B period brands is positive, empowered, inclusive - and a world away from the shame-based advertising of yesteryear.

👀 Who? (31 companies in this space)

  • Agni (cookies, teas and seasonings to support female health, USA)
  • &Me (menstrual drinks and supplements, India) 
  • Beeya™ (products to target hormonal imbalances, USA)
  • Bears Benefits (female focussed and supplements, Germany)
  • BelliWelli (stomach-settling snack bars, USA)
  • Bloom Cycle by Nestlé (menstrual snacks, Netherlands)
  • Booby Boons (lactation support products, Canada) 
  • Chica Chocolate (chocolate with Chinese herbs for periods through menopause, USA) 
  • Circles (herbal cures for menstrual ailments, France) 
  • De Lune (herbal menstrual pills and powders, USA) 
  • Elix Healing (cycle-balancing herbal supplements, USA) 
  • FemBites (female superfoods, Germany)
  • Flo Living (tracking and supplements, USA) 
  • Food Period Moon Bites (organic snacks for menstruation, USA)
  • Frauenmond Chocolate (dark chocolate aimed at female wellbeing, Switzerland)
  • Guud (tailored supplements to decrease hormonal acne, Belgium)
  • Her1 (gut-boosting health foods, Germany) 
  • High5 (nutritious granola for period health, India)
  • HotTea Mama (period and postpartum teas, UK)
  • Imbue Natural (reproductive care products, India)
  • InnoNature (female health, wellness and beauty products, Germany) 
  • Jolly Mama (several lines in female nutrition, France)
  • Marea (multivitamin powder to reduce PMS, USA)
  • Moom Health (personalised female supplements, Singapore)
  • Moon Juice (female health supplements, USA)
  • Nutrizoe (plant-based bars for lactating women, India)
  • Period by Kraft Heinz (period-oriented cocoa drink, USA) 
  • Pure Ella by Pure Good (female focussed supplements, Germany)
  • Ritual (prenatal and postnatal vitamins for mothers, USA) 
  • Tapestry (early stage venture-backed women's health startup, USA)
  • we the Trillions (customised meals and snacks to enhance feminine health, USA) 
  • Womaness (menopause products, USA)
  • Wile (plant-based female wellness brand, USA)

💸 Most Funded: Female Health x Food Startups

Data from Crunchbase

🧠 What insiders are saying 

A quick chat with Jessica Karr the 12th employee at Impossible Foods and now founder of the newly launched Coyote Ventures - focussed on backing early stage companies that are innovating in women’s health and wellness.

What made you want to transition from foodtech to femtech?
"Food tech is no longer an emerging industry, it has matured. Women's health on the other hand has been marginalized due to the historic lack of representation of women in STEM and finance. With these tides changing, there's an explosion of women innovating for their own needs. Working in FemTech to me is to directly work on issues in gender equality. Also the companies are very science focused and with large market sizes, nicely fitting with the traditional VC model."
What business opportunities do you see in the intersection of foodtech x women health?
"There's a lot of room to collaborate as the women's health segment grows. Many food tech entrepreneurs are leveraging their CPG knowledge and connections to widely expand the category and shelf space. There are also overlapping technologies, such as cell culture for breast milk."
We're in the early innings of femtech - what do you predict is to come in the next 2-3 years?
"Right now the early pioneers of women's health have to educate consumers and investors. In a few years, we will all have a better understanding of topics in women's health and will be more focused on scaling companies.
When there is 1-2 competitors to a startup we tend to be very skeptical of how they will gain market share, despite massive market sizes. In the future we'll better understand how customers are segmented. We will also have improved marketing strategies. Womens health startups are having trouble with the current Facebook and Google ads marketing funnel, and I don't think this is the way of the future. There are innovations in advertising that I think will much improve companies routes to get in front of customers."

🍪 Case study: Food Period 

  • Food Period does what it says on the tin: providing functional food products, full of natural goodness, that honour and support the female cycle. 
  • Speaking to Forbes, the founders said their mission is to ‘to make natural, food-based solutions as easily accessible to womxn as pharmaceuticals.’
  • Their flagship product? Moon Bites, designed around a wellness practice known as ‘seed syncing’ which recommends consuming certain seeds at different times of the month to maintain an optimal hormonal balance. 
  • Based in New York City, the brand launched in 2018 with a period subscription box and now sells their Moon Bites in packs alongside Moon Mylk, an adaptogenic powdered hot drink to boost moods and energy. 
  • Prices start at a relatively accessible $23 and subscribers have reported improved sleep, more regular periods, fewer cramps and decreased mood swings among the benefits - although the Food Period founders themselves are keen to point out that the scientific research into these issues is limited. 

👭 Case study: &Me 

  • From the USA to India, where startup &Me fuses Ayurvedic medicine with modern science to make bioactive beverages aimed at solving problems related to periods, diet and fertility. 
  • This is an especially big deal in India, where menstruation discrimination is part of the lived experience of many who have periods, and taboos are much stronger than in the west. 
  • The startup was founded in 2017 and has raised $2.1m in funding to date.
  • In 2020 the company launched its own period box, filled with comfort food, period tea as well as necessities like sanitary pads. 
  • &Me’s remedies are backed by expert research, with solutions designed for PCOS, pre and postnatal care, period pain and vaginal health among others. Products include menstrual teas made with soothing ingredients, drinks, probiotics and chocolate. The company even offers a free call with an expert to its customers. 
  • By offering a solution-driven and research-led approach that recognises the diversity of female health needs, &Me is an Indian trailblazer.
Source: &Me

👍 The good

  • F&B brands focusing on feminine health issues are performing a public service as well as providing a useful product: bringing attention to the underappreciated, under-researched area of female health. Products targeted at the menopause, infertility and endometriosis, among others, are bringing these hidden issues to the surface and giving womxn a voice and a choice. 
  • Now is probably the ideal time to be launching an innovative F&B period product or offering, as Gen Z come of age and start spending their disposable income. Innovations like period pants and cycle tracking have been on the scene for some time, but food-based period and wellness products are relatively new and there’s still plenty of room for newcomers to make waves. 
  • Challenger brands can also vye it out with bigger brands (like Kraft Heinz’s period cocoa) only just cottoning on to the trend, and are more likely to sound authentic and real than large corporate conglomerates. 
  • And remember that the average person who menstruates spends 10 years on their period. Women and womxn also spend 29% more on their health than men, so feminine wellness and food brands are well-placed to grab some of that share.

👎 The bad

  • That said, women and people with cycles are underrepresented in research and medical trials - which can make it hard for brands to verify their medical claims or even come up with relevant products in the first place. Thankfully, this is slowly changing. 
  • On the topic of making health and nutritional claims, food and supplement startups should be aware of regulatory issues and the costs of setting up in different territories. 
  • And while the wave of womxn-owned startups is undoubtedly a great thing, there are still hurdles to scale. Startup equity is granted to females at a rate of $0.47 to every man’s $1, and female founders are much less likely to receive VC funding. 

 💡 The bottom line

  • More power to the period: as Gen Z come of age and join their millennial counterparts in expecting holistic cycle-based food and wellness products, femtech food brands can anticipate new, engaged and informed customers.
  • And as adoption grows, other (older) consumers are likely to get interested too, with issues like the menopause also gaining attention and inspiring new product launches. 
  • Ultimately, brands that promote holistic wellness, female bodily autonomy, inclusivity and natural care will come out on top - what was once deemed embarrassing is fast becoming empowering.

How did you like today's Trends?

Love it 😁 Meh 😐 Hate it 🙁

🌙 What is it? 

  • That time of the month. Aunt Flo. I’ve got the painters and decorators in. Or simply, ‘I’m on’. Periods - or menstruation, to use the scientific term - have long been cloaked in shame and euphemism, for a whole bunch of reasons
  • Yet the average woman, or person who menstruates, experiences 450 periods in a lifetime. That makes women's health a pretty big opportunity which is still relatively underserved. 
  • From menstruation apps to mood-balancing bites - there’s plenty of space for food-based solutions to play their part in the growing women’s health category.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • The last decade has seen some of that stigma fade away as femtech innovations like cycle tracking apps and period pants have brought awareness to female health issues.
  • Food and beverage brands haven’t traditionally targeted period-specific products, but that cycle is changing with a significant number of food and wellness startups targeting feminine health at all stages of life. 
  • From hormone-balancing supplements to prenatal teas to menopause remedies and cramp-purging snacks, let’s meet the womxn’s wellness brands painting the town red.

📈 The figures

  • The female health market is a $1 trillion global opportunity, yet nearly every market within it is ripe for innovation. 
  • And the femtech market reached $22.5 billion in 2020 and will expand at around 16.2% CAGR during 2021 to 2027.
  • Despite digital health investment reaching over $14bn dollars last year, femtech funding made up only $254m of this - leaving room to grow.
Source: https://femtechfocus.org/resources/

🤷 Why?

  • Periods - and related issues in female health - have historically been stigmatised, with sanitary product brands using a mysterious blue liquid in their advertising as a substitute for blood, and words like ‘discreet’ and ‘feminine hygiene’ commonly thrown around as euphemisms. But with increased openness among younger consumers, young brands are less concerned with taboos and more interested in busting stereotypes with forward-looking, innovative, inclusive products. And with 51% of the world’s population having periods, brands are waking up to the opportunity. 
  • The growth in food-related products for periods, menopause and beyond is linked to the trend for consumers to treat their bodies as a holistic ecosystem, as research by Mintel puts it. Shoppers are looking for solutions that will work together with their body’s natural cycles and which treat menstruation as one part of a whole. 
  • There’s also the shift towards ‘natural’ remedies with several brands capitalising on consumers’ desire for herbal solutions and food-based cures with supplements, snacks, and other food products that aim to ease period pain and other female ailments without the use of traditional medicine. This is particularly popular among millennials and Gen Z consumers. 
  • In the past, most period products have been made by men. Oh, the irony. But there’s a growing number of female-owned period brands using food and wellness supplements to empower customers and shake up the status quo. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • The food-based femcare market represents a sprawling segment catering to many different customer categories, whether that's supplements for expectant or new mothers (Ritual), lactation cookies for those that breastfeed (Booby Boons) or people experiencing the menopause (Womaness). 
  • A wave of startups are providing natural relief for period pain and other reproductive ailments in response to growing interest among wellness fans and younger consumers for chemical-free remedies. De Lune is an American menstrual wellness brand that has developed a drug-free, research-backed cure for cramps. Circles in France also sells herbal supplements to treat various menstrual ailments, while We The Trillions has an entire meal and snack range targeting different female health issues from anaemia (often linked to heavy periods) to IBS to fertility. Female pain is often overlooked, but these brands - and more - are making sure their needs are heard.
  • Bigger brands are also jumping on the trend, with Nestlé developing Bloom Cycle and Kraft Heinz designing a new drink to aid menstrual health, currently named Period. 
  • Supplements, vitamin powders and pills are increasingly popular, straddling the line between health, wellness, beauty and food. These also play into the millennial and Gen Z desire for natural, holistic options that are focused on mental and physical wellbeing as a whole. Moom Health, which sells personalised supplements from Singapore, describes its offering as ‘expert-backed, natural remedies for body and mind’ while Tapestry, an early stage venture-backed startup, aims to reimagine the future of female health through nutrition.
  • On that note, personalisation is a growing industry in the period segment - following on from the rise in personalised nutrition more widely. For some, that means going digital: Flo Living both offer app tracking alongside supplements. For others, it’s about tailored nutrition - like Guud’s personalised feminine supplements to reduce hormonal acne.
  • Health foods and aids aside, several brands are focusing on indulgence, bringing a touch of decadence and pleasure to a niche that has historically been centred around pain. Chica Chocolate and Frauenmond Chocolate both make fortified dark chocolate full of antioxidants and with extra health benefits for those on their period or undergoing the menopause. And BelliWelli are doing the same with their fun and colourful branded brownie bars, that have the added advantage of settling stomach cramps.
  • Similarly, many of these female-led startups are choosing to market their products with messages of empowerment and inclusivity, rather than the traditional taboo-informed messaging of previous period products. FemBites in Germany - who sell chocolate as well as fruit gummies - describe their products as ‘female superfoods’ and Marea in the USA adorn their PMS elixir powders with the slogan ‘cycle support for the empowered’. Womaness are shedding light on the underlooked menopause - rebranding it as a time of ‘menopositivity’ instead. The new wave of F&B period brands is positive, empowered, inclusive - and a world away from the shame-based advertising of yesteryear.

👀 Who? (31 companies in this space)

  • Agni (cookies, teas and seasonings to support female health, USA)
  • &Me (menstrual drinks and supplements, India) 
  • Beeya™ (products to target hormonal imbalances, USA)
  • Bears Benefits (female focussed and supplements, Germany)
  • BelliWelli (stomach-settling snack bars, USA)
  • Bloom Cycle by Nestlé (menstrual snacks, Netherlands)
  • Booby Boons (lactation support products, Canada) 
  • Chica Chocolate (chocolate with Chinese herbs for periods through menopause, USA) 
  • Circles (herbal cures for menstrual ailments, France) 
  • De Lune (herbal menstrual pills and powders, USA) 
  • Elix Healing (cycle-balancing herbal supplements, USA) 
  • FemBites (female superfoods, Germany)
  • Flo Living (tracking and supplements, USA) 
  • Food Period Moon Bites (organic snacks for menstruation, USA)
  • Frauenmond Chocolate (dark chocolate aimed at female wellbeing, Switzerland)
  • Guud (tailored supplements to decrease hormonal acne, Belgium)
  • Her1 (gut-boosting health foods, Germany) 
  • High5 (nutritious granola for period health, India)
  • HotTea Mama (period and postpartum teas, UK)
  • Imbue Natural (reproductive care products, India)
  • InnoNature (female health, wellness and beauty products, Germany) 
  • Jolly Mama (several lines in female nutrition, France)
  • Marea (multivitamin powder to reduce PMS, USA)
  • Moom Health (personalised female supplements, Singapore)
  • Moon Juice (female health supplements, USA)
  • Nutrizoe (plant-based bars for lactating women, India)
  • Period by Kraft Heinz (period-oriented cocoa drink, USA) 
  • Pure Ella by Pure Good (female focussed supplements, Germany)
  • Ritual (prenatal and postnatal vitamins for mothers, USA) 
  • Tapestry (early stage venture-backed women's health startup, USA)
  • we the Trillions (customised meals and snacks to enhance feminine health, USA) 
  • Womaness (menopause products, USA)
  • Wile (plant-based female wellness brand, USA)

💸 Most Funded: Female Health x Food Startups

Data from Crunchbase

🧠 What insiders are saying 

A quick chat with Jessica Karr the 12th employee at Impossible Foods and now founder of the newly launched Coyote Ventures - focussed on backing early stage companies that are innovating in women’s health and wellness.

What made you want to transition from foodtech to femtech?
"Food tech is no longer an emerging industry, it has matured. Women's health on the other hand has been marginalized due to the historic lack of representation of women in STEM and finance. With these tides changing, there's an explosion of women innovating for their own needs. Working in FemTech to me is to directly work on issues in gender equality. Also the companies are very science focused and with large market sizes, nicely fitting with the traditional VC model."
What business opportunities do you see in the intersection of foodtech x women health?
"There's a lot of room to collaborate as the women's health segment grows. Many food tech entrepreneurs are leveraging their CPG knowledge and connections to widely expand the category and shelf space. There are also overlapping technologies, such as cell culture for breast milk."
We're in the early innings of femtech - what do you predict is to come in the next 2-3 years?
"Right now the early pioneers of women's health have to educate consumers and investors. In a few years, we will all have a better understanding of topics in women's health and will be more focused on scaling companies.
When there is 1-2 competitors to a startup we tend to be very skeptical of how they will gain market share, despite massive market sizes. In the future we'll better understand how customers are segmented. We will also have improved marketing strategies. Womens health startups are having trouble with the current Facebook and Google ads marketing funnel, and I don't think this is the way of the future. There are innovations in advertising that I think will much improve companies routes to get in front of customers."

🍪 Case study: Food Period 

  • Food Period does what it says on the tin: providing functional food products, full of natural goodness, that honour and support the female cycle. 
  • Speaking to Forbes, the founders said their mission is to ‘to make natural, food-based solutions as easily accessible to womxn as pharmaceuticals.’
  • Their flagship product? Moon Bites, designed around a wellness practice known as ‘seed syncing’ which recommends consuming certain seeds at different times of the month to maintain an optimal hormonal balance. 
  • Based in New York City, the brand launched in 2018 with a period subscription box and now sells their Moon Bites in packs alongside Moon Mylk, an adaptogenic powdered hot drink to boost moods and energy. 
  • Prices start at a relatively accessible $23 and subscribers have reported improved sleep, more regular periods, fewer cramps and decreased mood swings among the benefits - although the Food Period founders themselves are keen to point out that the scientific research into these issues is limited. 

👭 Case study: &Me 

  • From the USA to India, where startup &Me fuses Ayurvedic medicine with modern science to make bioactive beverages aimed at solving problems related to periods, diet and fertility. 
  • This is an especially big deal in India, where menstruation discrimination is part of the lived experience of many who have periods, and taboos are much stronger than in the west. 
  • The startup was founded in 2017 and has raised $2.1m in funding to date.
  • In 2020 the company launched its own period box, filled with comfort food, period tea as well as necessities like sanitary pads. 
  • &Me’s remedies are backed by expert research, with solutions designed for PCOS, pre and postnatal care, period pain and vaginal health among others. Products include menstrual teas made with soothing ingredients, drinks, probiotics and chocolate. The company even offers a free call with an expert to its customers. 
  • By offering a solution-driven and research-led approach that recognises the diversity of female health needs, &Me is an Indian trailblazer.
Source: &Me

👍 The good

  • F&B brands focusing on feminine health issues are performing a public service as well as providing a useful product: bringing attention to the underappreciated, under-researched area of female health. Products targeted at the menopause, infertility and endometriosis, among others, are bringing these hidden issues to the surface and giving womxn a voice and a choice. 
  • Now is probably the ideal time to be launching an innovative F&B period product or offering, as Gen Z come of age and start spending their disposable income. Innovations like period pants and cycle tracking have been on the scene for some time, but food-based period and wellness products are relatively new and there’s still plenty of room for newcomers to make waves. 
  • Challenger brands can also vye it out with bigger brands (like Kraft Heinz’s period cocoa) only just cottoning on to the trend, and are more likely to sound authentic and real than large corporate conglomerates. 
  • And remember that the average person who menstruates spends 10 years on their period. Women and womxn also spend 29% more on their health than men, so feminine wellness and food brands are well-placed to grab some of that share.

👎 The bad

  • That said, women and people with cycles are underrepresented in research and medical trials - which can make it hard for brands to verify their medical claims or even come up with relevant products in the first place. Thankfully, this is slowly changing. 
  • On the topic of making health and nutritional claims, food and supplement startups should be aware of regulatory issues and the costs of setting up in different territories. 
  • And while the wave of womxn-owned startups is undoubtedly a great thing, there are still hurdles to scale. Startup equity is granted to females at a rate of $0.47 to every man’s $1, and female founders are much less likely to receive VC funding. 

 💡 The bottom line

  • More power to the period: as Gen Z come of age and join their millennial counterparts in expecting holistic cycle-based food and wellness products, femtech food brands can anticipate new, engaged and informed customers.
  • And as adoption grows, other (older) consumers are likely to get interested too, with issues like the menopause also gaining attention and inspiring new product launches. 
  • Ultimately, brands that promote holistic wellness, female bodily autonomy, inclusivity and natural care will come out on top - what was once deemed embarrassing is fast becoming empowering.

How did you like today's Trends?

Love it 😁 Meh 😐 Hate it 🙁

🌙 What is it? 

  • That time of the month. Aunt Flo. I’ve got the painters and decorators in. Or simply, ‘I’m on’. Periods - or menstruation, to use the scientific term - have long been cloaked in shame and euphemism, for a whole bunch of reasons
  • Yet the average woman, or person who menstruates, experiences 450 periods in a lifetime. That makes women's health a pretty big opportunity which is still relatively underserved. 
  • From menstruation apps to mood-balancing bites - there’s plenty of space for food-based solutions to play their part in the growing women’s health category.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • The last decade has seen some of that stigma fade away as femtech innovations like cycle tracking apps and period pants have brought awareness to female health issues.
  • Food and beverage brands haven’t traditionally targeted period-specific products, but that cycle is changing with a significant number of food and wellness startups targeting feminine health at all stages of life. 
  • From hormone-balancing supplements to prenatal teas to menopause remedies and cramp-purging snacks, let’s meet the womxn’s wellness brands painting the town red.

📈 The figures

  • The female health market is a $1 trillion global opportunity, yet nearly every market within it is ripe for innovation. 
  • And the femtech market reached $22.5 billion in 2020 and will expand at around 16.2% CAGR during 2021 to 2027.
  • Despite digital health investment reaching over $14bn dollars last year, femtech funding made up only $254m of this - leaving room to grow.
Source: https://femtechfocus.org/resources/

🤷 Why?

  • Periods - and related issues in female health - have historically been stigmatised, with sanitary product brands using a mysterious blue liquid in their advertising as a substitute for blood, and words like ‘discreet’ and ‘feminine hygiene’ commonly thrown around as euphemisms. But with increased openness among younger consumers, young brands are less concerned with taboos and more interested in busting stereotypes with forward-looking, innovative, inclusive products. And with 51% of the world’s population having periods, brands are waking up to the opportunity. 
  • The growth in food-related products for periods, menopause and beyond is linked to the trend for consumers to treat their bodies as a holistic ecosystem, as research by Mintel puts it. Shoppers are looking for solutions that will work together with their body’s natural cycles and which treat menstruation as one part of a whole. 
  • There’s also the shift towards ‘natural’ remedies with several brands capitalising on consumers’ desire for herbal solutions and food-based cures with supplements, snacks, and other food products that aim to ease period pain and other female ailments without the use of traditional medicine. This is particularly popular among millennials and Gen Z consumers. 
  • In the past, most period products have been made by men. Oh, the irony. But there’s a growing number of female-owned period brands using food and wellness supplements to empower customers and shake up the status quo. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • The food-based femcare market represents a sprawling segment catering to many different customer categories, whether that's supplements for expectant or new mothers (Ritual), lactation cookies for those that breastfeed (Booby Boons) or people experiencing the menopause (Womaness). 
  • A wave of startups are providing natural relief for period pain and other reproductive ailments in response to growing interest among wellness fans and younger consumers for chemical-free remedies. De Lune is an American menstrual wellness brand that has developed a drug-free, research-backed cure for cramps. Circles in France also sells herbal supplements to treat various menstrual ailments, while We The Trillions has an entire meal and snack range targeting different female health issues from anaemia (often linked to heavy periods) to IBS to fertility. Female pain is often overlooked, but these brands - and more - are making sure their needs are heard.
  • Bigger brands are also jumping on the trend, with Nestlé developing Bloom Cycle and Kraft Heinz designing a new drink to aid menstrual health, currently named Period. 
  • Supplements, vitamin powders and pills are increasingly popular, straddling the line between health, wellness, beauty and food. These also play into the millennial and Gen Z desire for natural, holistic options that are focused on mental and physical wellbeing as a whole. Moom Health, which sells personalised supplements from Singapore, describes its offering as ‘expert-backed, natural remedies for body and mind’ while Tapestry, an early stage venture-backed startup, aims to reimagine the future of female health through nutrition.
  • On that note, personalisation is a growing industry in the period segment - following on from the rise in personalised nutrition more widely. For some, that means going digital: Flo Living both offer app tracking alongside supplements. For others, it’s about tailored nutrition - like Guud’s personalised feminine supplements to reduce hormonal acne.
  • Health foods and aids aside, several brands are focusing on indulgence, bringing a touch of decadence and pleasure to a niche that has historically been centred around pain. Chica Chocolate and Frauenmond Chocolate both make fortified dark chocolate full of antioxidants and with extra health benefits for those on their period or undergoing the menopause. And BelliWelli are doing the same with their fun and colourful branded brownie bars, that have the added advantage of settling stomach cramps.
  • Similarly, many of these female-led startups are choosing to market their products with messages of empowerment and inclusivity, rather than the traditional taboo-informed messaging of previous period products. FemBites in Germany - who sell chocolate as well as fruit gummies - describe their products as ‘female superfoods’ and Marea in the USA adorn their PMS elixir powders with the slogan ‘cycle support for the empowered’. Womaness are shedding light on the underlooked menopause - rebranding it as a time of ‘menopositivity’ instead. The new wave of F&B period brands is positive, empowered, inclusive - and a world away from the shame-based advertising of yesteryear.

👀 Who? (31 companies in this space)

  • Agni (cookies, teas and seasonings to support female health, USA)
  • &Me (menstrual drinks and supplements, India) 
  • Beeya™ (products to target hormonal imbalances, USA)
  • Bears Benefits (female focussed and supplements, Germany)
  • BelliWelli (stomach-settling snack bars, USA)
  • Bloom Cycle by Nestlé (menstrual snacks, Netherlands)
  • Booby Boons (lactation support products, Canada) 
  • Chica Chocolate (chocolate with Chinese herbs for periods through menopause, USA) 
  • Circles (herbal cures for menstrual ailments, France) 
  • De Lune (herbal menstrual pills and powders, USA) 
  • Elix Healing (cycle-balancing herbal supplements, USA) 
  • FemBites (female superfoods, Germany)
  • Flo Living (tracking and supplements, USA) 
  • Food Period Moon Bites (organic snacks for menstruation, USA)
  • Frauenmond Chocolate (dark chocolate aimed at female wellbeing, Switzerland)
  • Guud (tailored supplements to decrease hormonal acne, Belgium)
  • Her1 (gut-boosting health foods, Germany) 
  • High5 (nutritious granola for period health, India)
  • HotTea Mama (period and postpartum teas, UK)
  • Imbue Natural (reproductive care products, India)
  • InnoNature (female health, wellness and beauty products, Germany) 
  • Jolly Mama (several lines in female nutrition, France)
  • Marea (multivitamin powder to reduce PMS, USA)
  • Moom Health (personalised female supplements, Singapore)
  • Moon Juice (female health supplements, USA)
  • Nutrizoe (plant-based bars for lactating women, India)
  • Period by Kraft Heinz (period-oriented cocoa drink, USA) 
  • Pure Ella by Pure Good (female focussed supplements, Germany)
  • Ritual (prenatal and postnatal vitamins for mothers, USA) 
  • Tapestry (early stage venture-backed women's health startup, USA)
  • we the Trillions (customised meals and snacks to enhance feminine health, USA) 
  • Womaness (menopause products, USA)
  • Wile (plant-based female wellness brand, USA)

💸 Most Funded: Female Health x Food Startups

Data from Crunchbase

🧠 What insiders are saying 

A quick chat with Jessica Karr the 12th employee at Impossible Foods and now founder of the newly launched Coyote Ventures - focussed on backing early stage companies that are innovating in women’s health and wellness.

What made you want to transition from foodtech to femtech?
"Food tech is no longer an emerging industry, it has matured. Women's health on the other hand has been marginalized due to the historic lack of representation of women in STEM and finance. With these tides changing, there's an explosion of women innovating for their own needs. Working in FemTech to me is to directly work on issues in gender equality. Also the companies are very science focused and with large market sizes, nicely fitting with the traditional VC model."
What business opportunities do you see in the intersection of foodtech x women health?
"There's a lot of room to collaborate as the women's health segment grows. Many food tech entrepreneurs are leveraging their CPG knowledge and connections to widely expand the category and shelf space. There are also overlapping technologies, such as cell culture for breast milk."
We're in the early innings of femtech - what do you predict is to come in the next 2-3 years?
"Right now the early pioneers of women's health have to educate consumers and investors. In a few years, we will all have a better understanding of topics in women's health and will be more focused on scaling companies.
When there is 1-2 competitors to a startup we tend to be very skeptical of how they will gain market share, despite massive market sizes. In the future we'll better understand how customers are segmented. We will also have improved marketing strategies. Womens health startups are having trouble with the current Facebook and Google ads marketing funnel, and I don't think this is the way of the future. There are innovations in advertising that I think will much improve companies routes to get in front of customers."

🍪 Case study: Food Period 

  • Food Period does what it says on the tin: providing functional food products, full of natural goodness, that honour and support the female cycle. 
  • Speaking to Forbes, the founders said their mission is to ‘to make natural, food-based solutions as easily accessible to womxn as pharmaceuticals.’
  • Their flagship product? Moon Bites, designed around a wellness practice known as ‘seed syncing’ which recommends consuming certain seeds at different times of the month to maintain an optimal hormonal balance. 
  • Based in New York City, the brand launched in 2018 with a period subscription box and now sells their Moon Bites in packs alongside Moon Mylk, an adaptogenic powdered hot drink to boost moods and energy. 
  • Prices start at a relatively accessible $23 and subscribers have reported improved sleep, more regular periods, fewer cramps and decreased mood swings among the benefits - although the Food Period founders themselves are keen to point out that the scientific research into these issues is limited. 

👭 Case study: &Me 

  • From the USA to India, where startup &Me fuses Ayurvedic medicine with modern science to make bioactive beverages aimed at solving problems related to periods, diet and fertility. 
  • This is an especially big deal in India, where menstruation discrimination is part of the lived experience of many who have periods, and taboos are much stronger than in the west. 
  • The startup was founded in 2017 and has raised $2.1m in funding to date.
  • In 2020 the company launched its own period box, filled with comfort food, period tea as well as necessities like sanitary pads. 
  • &Me’s remedies are backed by expert research, with solutions designed for PCOS, pre and postnatal care, period pain and vaginal health among others. Products include menstrual teas made with soothing ingredients, drinks, probiotics and chocolate. The company even offers a free call with an expert to its customers. 
  • By offering a solution-driven and research-led approach that recognises the diversity of female health needs, &Me is an Indian trailblazer.
Source: &Me

👍 The good

  • F&B brands focusing on feminine health issues are performing a public service as well as providing a useful product: bringing attention to the underappreciated, under-researched area of female health. Products targeted at the menopause, infertility and endometriosis, among others, are bringing these hidden issues to the surface and giving womxn a voice and a choice. 
  • Now is probably the ideal time to be launching an innovative F&B period product or offering, as Gen Z come of age and start spending their disposable income. Innovations like period pants and cycle tracking have been on the scene for some time, but food-based period and wellness products are relatively new and there’s still plenty of room for newcomers to make waves. 
  • Challenger brands can also vye it out with bigger brands (like Kraft Heinz’s period cocoa) only just cottoning on to the trend, and are more likely to sound authentic and real than large corporate conglomerates. 
  • And remember that the average person who menstruates spends 10 years on their period. Women and womxn also spend 29% more on their health than men, so feminine wellness and food brands are well-placed to grab some of that share.

👎 The bad

  • That said, women and people with cycles are underrepresented in research and medical trials - which can make it hard for brands to verify their medical claims or even come up with relevant products in the first place. Thankfully, this is slowly changing. 
  • On the topic of making health and nutritional claims, food and supplement startups should be aware of regulatory issues and the costs of setting up in different territories. 
  • And while the wave of womxn-owned startups is undoubtedly a great thing, there are still hurdles to scale. Startup equity is granted to females at a rate of $0.47 to every man’s $1, and female founders are much less likely to receive VC funding. 

 💡 The bottom line

  • More power to the period: as Gen Z come of age and join their millennial counterparts in expecting holistic cycle-based food and wellness products, femtech food brands can anticipate new, engaged and informed customers.
  • And as adoption grows, other (older) consumers are likely to get interested too, with issues like the menopause also gaining attention and inspiring new product launches. 
  • Ultimately, brands that promote holistic wellness, female bodily autonomy, inclusivity and natural care will come out on top - what was once deemed embarrassing is fast becoming empowering.

How did you like today's Trends?

Love it 😁 Meh 😐 Hate it 🙁

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