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Sometimes you just need a good ol’ cold beer. Something tasty, refreshing and cool. Maybe even a few.
But what you don’t need is a hangover.
Or to be set back with your fitness and wellness goals. Life is to be lived and not everything should be a hard compromise.
There is no doubt that consumers are caring more about what they consume, especially because of the pandemic. According to a McKinsey study, 79% of consumers believe that wellness is important to them. When splitting up what ‘wellness’ meant, one of six key pillars was better nutrition. As a result, legacy brands and startups are emerging to capitalise on this need, mainly in the NoLo niche.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘NoLo’, it covers the range of alcohol-free and low alcohol beverages under 1.2%. The market value reached almost $10 billion in 2021, a sharp rise from $7.8 billion in 2018. Data shows that it’s not a fad either, pre-pandemic, UK volume sales for NoLo drinks grew by 169.7% between 2017 to 2019.
Whilst alcoholic drinks took a hit to sales overall, NoLo drinks were on the rise. With the market expected to grow by 34% by 2024, investors are placing their bets here. Pitchbook found that fundraising in nonalcoholic beverages doubled in the first half of 2021 compared to 2020.
The startup ecosystem is booming as smaller niche brands are adapting quickly to this growing market. A brand we’re excited to see currently fundraising is Fungtn (pronounced function).
Fungtn is an award-winning, alcohol free craft beer brewed with adaptogenic mushrooms. Zoey Henderson launched the brand on a shoestring budget mic pandemic, growing it organically through social media and press.
Zoey has a wealth of experience in the food and beverage industry through owning her own café, Slate Coffee in Shoreditch , to being the London sales lead at Fitch Brew co and consulting in the café and hospitality space. It’s no surprise that in less than two years, she’s grown Fungtn to achieve the following:
- Won 5 industry awards for innovation and taste
- Launched into Planet Organic & Selfridges
- 65+ UK and Europe stockists, 1 national wholesaler
- Export secured for USA / Canada in 2022
What is it with mushrooms?
In a podcast interview, Zoey recalls the discovery of mixing mushrooms and beer:
“I was drinking a lot of alcohol free beers as my husband and myself had decided to take a break from alcohol. I was sitting in my garden, during March 2020, drinking alcohol free beers in the afternoon. I had mushroom coffee in the morning. I wanted more mushrooms in my food and was thinking about what I could put in. I took the mushroom powder and stirred it into the beer. Once it settled down, the taste was good!”
Besides good taste, functional mushrooms are known as adaptogens. Adaptogens are herbs and fungi that go past great nutrition, but also help our bodies adapt to stress and keep in good form.
Mushrooms are a great low calorie source of fibre, protein and antioxidants. They’re well known to mitigate the risk of serious health conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Back to Fungtn
The best part about Fungtn is that people are able to consume healthy NoLo beers and live hangover free lives without sacrificing taste, quality and wellbeing. With a returning customer rate of 16%, it’s clear Fungtn are doing something right.
Fungtn are currently close to closing a £150,000 SEIS round on Seedrs to help the company scale, bring in new team members in sales and marketing, develop a 0% range for the Middle East market and tap into wider audiences such as festivals and events.
Excited by what Fungtn has achieved in just short of two years, 115 investors are excited to be a part of their journey as they begin to scale. If you are too, visit their pitch here.