Innovation for all women: India’s &me to focus on mental, menstrual, sexual health NPD, following product for menopause
A brand under Merhaki Foods and Nutrition, &me introduced its first products in 2017.
It has previously launched a range of beverages for alleviating polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD), as well as a product combination that address either hair loss, acne, or weight management at the same time.
While its products mostly catered to younger women, it branched into menopausal care last year with the product MenoDiet.
MenoDiet is a functional cookie made of 27 ingredients, including fenugreek, black cohosh, ayurvedic herbs ashwagandha, shatavari, Ashoka, as well as B vitamins, vitamin A, D, E, K, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
The product claims to manage a decline in estrogen level, improves bone density, and reduces hot flashes and night sweats symptoms associated with menopause.
“The ingredients mimic estrogen and thus help to manage a decline in estrogen level when women go into menopause,” cofounder and director, Sheta Mittal told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Mittal said the launch was to fill the current market gap for menopausal care products.
“Our vision is to solving women’s health problems across her life stages, of menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
“Menopause in particular is not talked about as much and few products are available, so people have to take hormonal therapy, which is not good for you,” she said.
A pack of 14 cookies is sold at RS$249 (US$3.40).
The company currently sells all its products online, via its website and e-commerce sites such as Amazon.
This year, the company will continue working on developing products for menstrual health, with plans to develop products for endometriosis – a condition where cells from the lining of the womb are found outside of the womb.
When left untreated, it could lead to painful and heavy menstruation, pain during or after sexual intercourse, infertility, painful bowel and bladder issues, and fatigue.
Other potential plans include launching flavour variants. Currently, its PCOS and PCOD drink comes in the cranberry flavour.
According to Mittal, health concerns related to menstruation and pregnancy are on the top concerns of the Indian consumers’ mind when it comes to women’s health.
Its top three bestselling products last year was its PCOS, PCOD drink, an UTI beverage containing cranberry extract, ayurvedic herbs such as varuna, shatavari, and trikatu for managing urinary tract infection (UTIs), and its period care package box.
The package consists of dark chocolates, a spearmint flavoured green tea for relieving menstrual cramps and pain, a roller for soothing abdominal, legs, and back pain, sanitary pads, and menstrual cup.
The average age of its consumers is between around 27 years old.
“What we did see during COVID-19 is that hormonal imbalance and menstrual irregularity become really big due to stress, leading to a higher demand for menstrual care products,” she said.
Mental and sexual health
After making the move into menopausal care last year, the company plans to continue new areas, specifically products for mental and sexual health.
“Sexual health is still not talked about; it is still a taboo when it comes to women.
“Second is mental health, which again doesn’t exist as much, and COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of it,” Mittal said, declining to reveal more details about the new product development at this stage.
She said that her firm, a pre-series A company, would be going for its next round of funding, and the funds injected would be used on clinical trials, NPD, and building the team.
There are currently 20 employees working for the brand, including an in-house R&D team and nutritionist.
The company also works with gynaecologist and doctors when developing products.