Just two years ago, British entrepreneur JD Furlong was working as a producer and distributor of vegan raw tray bakes to independent cafes but his true interest lay in the health benefits of CBD.
It was this interest that led him to seek the help of Jonathan Nadler, production director for European Cannabis Holdings, to realise his vision of bringing the health benefits of CBD to the mass market through convenient healthy bakes.
But their mission didn’t end there.
Furlong explains: “We also wanted to add a nootropics elements. This new category of health ingredients had caught my eye from speaking to friends struggling to keep up with deadlines and hearing about what a big following nootropics had with American students.
“I knew this element would work really well alongside the CBD as all the health benefits can be provided through natural ingredients and we knew we could potentially enhance the benefits of CBD through certain nootropics.”
Big market for biohacks
Nadler says the business idea of creating natural snacks that 'fuel the mind' felt like a 'no-brainer'.
He says: “It was obvious to us there’s a whole generation of shoppers looking for biohacks and that CBD is an effective ingredient to enhance food and we needed to find a more convenient way for people to get the benefits of CBD.
“For us the on-the-go snacks fixture is polluted with bars full of rubbish, usually full of sugar and usually the ‘healthy’ bars are just concentrating on fibre and protein.
“But what we should really be looking for when we’re busy and on the go is something that enhances our mind so you need a snack bar for improved cognitive function in order to hep you get more into your day and perform at an optimum level.”
Furlong adds that many protein bars are full of unnatural ingredients and many bars made with only natural or plant based ingredients are filled with sugar so they were keen to offer something to fit both the functional and the clean label trends.
“The whole clean label movement has led to products looking clean on the front of pack but we wanted to provide a product that’s also a clean back of pack - when you actually read into the full list of ingredients.”
The duo launched their first lemon and ginger bar with gingko and maca on Planet Organic in April this year. The key ingredients in the bar are lemon, ginger, peanut butter, cacao nibs and chicory root.
Maca is claimed to offer a range of health benefits including boosting libido and energy, improving mood and reducing blood pressure while gingko is said to fight inflammation, reduce anxiety and improve brain function, to name a few.
“I’ve been taking a shot of maca with nut milk every morning for the last few years," add Nadler. "It helps me get clarity for the day and it provides good blood flow qualities.
“Gingko, for me, is a mood enhancer. I feel a real change of mood when I have it in high doses and we thought the combination of these two nootropics with CBD would have the greatest effect for that first sku for that clarity and balance of mind."
The duo have a website where they can sell direct to consumer and they’re currently choosing additional retail partners.
“From the first week of being in Planet Organic we’ve been receiving phone calls from the biggest retailers in the UK and even from other parts of the world but we want to make sure we are appealing to our target audience so we want to be in Holland and Barrett and health food shops and the nature-focused cafes," adds Nadler.
“We think there’s going to be more and more people coming into this world simply as a consequence of the amount of press that food for the mind is getting.”
The men are giving the brand a refresh and launching two additional skus at the beginning of July, as they’ve realised the interest in nootropics is just as strong as that in CBD so they want their packaging to reflect both elements and how they provide a perfect balance for the mind.
Next steps for nootropics
Over the next six-12 months the men want to experiment with nootropic micro-dosing and stacking which involves using different nootropics for enhancement with different foods for different times of the day in order to get that idea balance of nootropics, just as you would with macro and micro nutrients in your diet.
Furlong adds: “We still have a lot of learning to do and it’s quite exciting to know we are doing things vastly differently now to how we might be doing them in 12 months time.”