Superfoods, frequently marketed as the answer to health, are extremely popular. Mintel GNPD (Global New Products Database) has revealed that between 2011 and 2015 there was a 202% increase globally in the number of new food and drink products launched containing the terms “superfood”, “superfruit” or “supergrain”.
In 2015 alone there was a 36% rise in the number of food and drink products launched globally featuring the terms “superfood”, “superfruit” or “supergrain”. In 2015, the US played host to the most “super” food and drink launches (30%), followed by Australia (10%).
The surge in launches comes as a result of strong consumer demand for highly nutritious products. The research reveals that the superfood sensation has spread beyond food and drink. Indeed, while 43% of products launched with the words “superfood”, “superfruit” or “supergrain” in the product description were in the food category between 2011 and 2015 and 11% fell under the drink category, as many as three in 10 (30%) were found in beauty and personal care, while 12% were in the health and hygiene category. A further 4% were in the pet category.
Stephanie Mattucci, Global Food Science Analyst at Mintel, said: “The popularity of ‘super’ products is clear as food and drink manufacturers globally are tapping into a demand for these nutritionally dense ingredients. But superfoods are not only limited to food and drink; they are regularly springing up in the beauty, health and hygiene and pet food aisles as a result of today’s consumers becoming much more aware of what they are putting into and onto their bodies.”
In particular, the trend towards a wheat-free diet has resulted in a growing number of products containing “supergrains”, which are ancient grains such as kamut, spelt and quinoa. Mintel notes that while quinoa and buckwheat have all become household names in recent years, chia is the supergrain (or rather, seed) which has seen the biggest rise in usage. Between 2014 and 2015, there was a 70% increase in the percentage of food and drink products launched containing chia, and the percentage of food and drink products containing teff rose by 31%. Meanwhile, the percentage of food and drink products containing quinoa rose by 27%.
“Desire for healthier, less refined alternatives to wheat has fuelled the rediscovery of ancient grains. Flavourful and nutrient-dense ancient grains have begun to change the negative perception of some carbohydrates by leveraging their nutritional profile and rich heritage. Ancient grains offer an alternative to wheat but also come bundled with functional and nutritional components, and provide new flavours and textures. They are a great way for free-from products to talk about health.” Mattucci said.
“Whilst the number of products containing ancient grains have been rising, next we could see the popularity of sprouting ancient grains. The ancient, accidental process of sprouting, where whole grains are soaked and left to germinate has largely been eliminated by modern processing techniques. There has been a return to this ancient practice, with controlled ‘sprouting’ practices being introduced, as the nutritive advantage of sprouted grains is being recognised. The ancient grain quinoa is leading the comeback of sprouted grains.”
With the UN announcing 2016 the year of the pulse, pulses too have been receiving added attention. Over the past two years, the percentage of food and drink products launched with green split pea has grown by 126%. The percentage of food and drink products containing coral lentils has grown by 62% and the percentage of food and drink products containing yellow split peas has increased by 21%.
“Pulses can be used to add a range of natural health benefits to food and drink products. Additionally, healthy pulses are staples in many ethnic cuisines, offering manufacturers a pathway for product innovation for convenience-seeking ethnic food explorers,” Mattucci added.
Mintel research reveals that super seeds have also seen an uptick in usage. Besides the rise in the percentage of food and drink products containing chia seeds, the percentage containing pumpkin seeds has grown by 27% and the percentage of food and drink products containing sunflower seeds has grown by 22%.
“Some seeds, including chia and pumpkin seeds, offer complete protein, with all nine essential amino acids in the correct ratios. However, a lot of protein from seeds is incomplete. Blending seeds can help improve the quality of protein,” Mattucci noted.
Going forward, turmeric and moringa could be the superfoods to watch. “Turmeric has potential as an ingredient in supplements and functional food and drink products, particularly within products aimed at the growing senior population. Additionally, moringa could be used in anti-ageing beauty food products. Whilst currently the ingredient is used in many beauty launches, the leaves are nutritional powerhouses,” Mattucci said.
Read the WorkSmart Asia blog posts about moringa, the superfood and about dates
Superfoods like chia and moringa can be obtained in Singapore