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Sleep, stress and COVID-19: Reflecting on Vitafoods Insights Virtual Expo 2021

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How can personalised nutrition alleviate problems with stress accelerated by the pandemic?

Following on from her participation in our panel discussion on sleep, stress and COVID-19 at the Vitafoods Insights Virtual Expo, Rachel Yarcony, CEO and co-founder of myAir, spoke to Vitafoods Insights about her experience as a brand-owner in this market, and her belief that the future of stress solutions lies in personalised nutrition.

Tell us about your brand. What was the gap in the market that you identified?

myAir is the first data-driven smart food startup to offer a complete body-and-mind solution, to reduce various types of stress through super-plant based, clean label nutrition bars.

Imagine that someone suffering from stress can receive a monthly box full of healthy nutrition bars, directly from the comfort of their own home. This bar is based on the most effective stress relief components known as terpenes and plant-based molecules. Most importantly, this nutrition bar is tailored to the individual´s stress condition.

Our patent-pending algorithm can analyze data from each individual’s “Stress Profile” and mood. With psychological and physiological assessment, the algorithm customizes a combination of myAir nutrition bars that will provide them with the most positive outcome during their stressless routine.

The myAir concept essentially brings together two arms of science: the science behind plant-based formulations and the science of big data (AI) to develop personalized deep profiling. Since I began my career in the fascinating food industry 20 years ago, I have watched how it has evolved, from extracting harmful ingredients, to adding “better-for-you” value with the introduction of natural ingredients and superfoods, in order to align itself with the quality and wellness ideals of consumers. Now, there is a gravitation towards more personalized nutrition, and tailored nutritional advice.

From your perspective, how has COVID-19 impacted the sleep and stress market?

Even before the COVID pandemic hit, the World Health Organization had declared stress a global epidemic. Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death in the world, and in the US alone stress is estimated to cost businesses up to $300 billion each year.

On the one hand, the pandemic has increased stress levels, but on the other, consumers are more aware of healthy eating, super-plants, and the power of self-management tools. These trends have led to a push in demand for myAir´s solution.

We expect that chronic stress will continue to be part of our lives during the “New Normal”, and that the “food for mood” category will maintain its growing trend, with 75% of consumers preferring healthy food over drugs.

How do you navigate the complex regulatory environment around nutraceutical and functional food products for sleep and stress?

Coming from both the food and pharma industry, I only believe in a code of full accuracy and uncompromising compliance. The functional food category is the future, and our role as a start-up is not only to build it, but to do so using fully regulated compliance methods. We worked with the best regulation experts in the USA to meet the required regulations. We created a quality-assured process of ingredients that meet our requisite for purity, clean-label, and non-GMO attributes, to ensure standardization in the quality and composition across all our products. To this day we work with a select group of suppliers who provide high-quality raw materials, with whom we can rely on for consistent supply.

What does the future hold for the sleep and stress market?

I strongly believe that this is only the beginning for this market, and its growth will be exponential. We’ve already seen corporates such as Pepsico launch their new “sleep” beverage.

As an executive manager and mother, stress had become a huge burden in my life. I tried to manage my stress through meditation and mindfulness, but I failed to incorporate stress management into my daily routine. Good nutrition is key to managing stress naturally. This spurred me to seek an all-natural solution and develop a “food-for-mood” solution that consumers can easily add to their daily routine, to take back control of their health and manage their personal stress levels.

Tell us about your panel discussion on stress, sleep and COVID-19 for VFI Virtual Expo 2021. What did you learn/ take away from the session?

I enjoyed the panel and I am honoured to participate and share our vision. It was fascinating to discover, once again, that experts from different parts of the industry – pharmacists, herbalists, regulation experts – share the same vision! That’s definitely a positive sign for the future of personalized functional food.

Why should people attend your session on-demand?

I believe that “learning never ends”. We keep learning from consumer data every day, and I’m always learning from industry experts. I also hope that it will be beneficial for others as well!

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