Pass the maca...Herbal shot startup NOURI on a mission to 'make herbs sexy again'

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

NOURI now wants to take its range to the UK
NOURI now wants to take its range to the UK

Related tags functional beverage beverage

Berlin-based startup NOURI wants to expand into the UK supplements market with its line of highly-concentrated stimulant shots that it says shake up a very 'dusty' herbal market.

NOURI launched its liquid herbal shots onto the DACH [Germany (D) Austria (A) and Switzerland (CH)] market in October, last year, online and across specialist retail points like yoga studios, gyms, cafes and hotels.

Its 60ml bottles come in three variants – focus, boost and lust – and are made using highly-concentrated herbal blends, including ginkgo, maca and eleuthero, as well as vitamins B12, B6 and zinc.

More than six months on from its launch, NOURI now wants to take its range to the UK – a market co-founder and brand builder Danielle Sheridan said is “already on this wave of shots”.

NOURI co-founders Lia Schmökel (nutritionist) and Danielle Sheridan (brand builder)

“One thing we found with Germany as a market is it's an extremely price-sensitive market and for what we're trying to develop, which is a premium lifestyle brand, the UK is a better fit,”​ Sheridan told NutraIngredients.

The company is currently in talks with various distributors in the UK to work on partnerships to present the product to retailers in the coming months.

Herbals hasn't seen innovation 'in a long time'

But just fresh onto the scene, how is NOURI planning to stave off competition?

“The space is enormous, in terms of herbal supplements,” ​Sheridan said, “but what we're doing in liquid format is different, by virtue of that; it already stands out massively.

“You have a herbal market which is really dusty, which hasn't seen innovation in a long time and is primarily pills and powders. We want to create something that's easy, that's convenient and that makes herbs sexy again. We don't think there's many out there doing that at the moment​.”

She said NOURI is happy to have other brands enter the space because it would drive market awareness around herbals. She said the company has already talked with several pharma firms, for example, about possibilities in working together. “They're interested in this space; they want to be involved and understand this is the frontier, the next wave of herbal supplements.”

The 'next wave' being liquid-format herbals, she said, a more functional product in terms of health and convenience.

“With pills and powders, it's messy. I used to do the powders a lot because I love herbs but if you're mixing them into a smoothie, it's all globby, it sprays on you, it's just a mess. Besides that point, that it's not very convenient, the bioavailability is ten times what you'd get with a pill or powder,”​ Sheridan said. 

NOURI recommends consumers mix the shot concentrates into other beverages – anything from a morning smoothie to an evening cocktail. “They actually taste amazing in cocktails. We've done a lot of events where we have the shots in other things and that's sometimes a way for people to try it."

Starting with stimulants

NOURI_three shots

NOURI's first three current herbal shots are all stimulants, she said, in part because consumer research shows energy is a top priority and health concern but it's also a strategic move.

“We wanted something that people could feel the immediate effect of, so they could then believe and feel the power of herbs.”

The 'boost' shot, she said, is the company's best-seller, probably because of its function but also flavour – mixed with lemon and ginger which is a familiar flavour profile. “We don't use any sugar, so [the shots] can be a little intense for some people. They taste healthy, they're not formulated to be yummy, they're functional.”

The 'boost' shot is packed with 800mg of maca, for example, along with nutmeg, oregano, ginger and guarana, as well as 0.38g B12 and 0.21mg B6. Importantly, Sheridan said each shot is blended to ensure they are food safe, contain no novel ingredients and that concentrations are within EFSA safe limits.

“Each shot has a blend of herbs inside it and we've selected one 'hero herb' and that is the most highly-concentrated herb in the blend. That's where we've put a concentration that is really high. We know that dose has been backed by clinical research to give a proven, functional benefit. It's not like we're doing bullshit marketing.”

Herbal health future

However, Sheridan said NOURI is “very, very careful”​ with its marketing and messaging, given it can't currently claim on its herbals.

“There's a lot of injustice and when it comes to food policy, it's quite flawed in a lot of ways. The fact we know a lot of these herbs have proven benefits yet you can't make claims around them is pretty upsetting. We want to push knowledge, education and policy towards a more plant-based, post-chemical society.”

In the coming year, Sheridan said NOURI will launch more variants, shifting beyond stimulants into other health areas like stress, sleep and even cosmetics. The company also wants to be strongly present in the UK market and other “urban trend capitals in Europe”​, she said. In five years, the goal is to be the “go-to lifestyle brand for herbal health”, ​she said.

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