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There was a 202% increase worldwide in the number of new food and drink launches containing the terms “superfood,” “superfruit,” or “supergrain” between 2011 and 2015.
The terms “superfood, “superfruit,” and “supergrain” continue to play a commanding role in global product launches. New research from Mintel suggests that between 2011 and 2015, there was a 202% increase worldwide in the number of food and drink launches containing these terms. And with a 36% rise in these sorts of launches in 2015 alone, there appears to be no end in sight for superfoods’ popularity.
On a country-by-country level, the United States was home to the most superfood and superdrink launches globally in 2015 (30%), followed by Australia (10%), Germany (7%), the United Kingdom (6%), and Canada (6%).
“The popularity of ‘super’ products is clear, as food and drink manufacturers globally are tapping into a demand for these nutritionally dense ingredients,” said Stephanie Mattucci, global food science analyst, Mintel. “But superfoods are not only limited to food and drink, as they are regularly appearing 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.”
While 43% of global “superfood,” “superfruit,” and “supergrain” launches were in the food category between 2011 and 2015, Mintel found that 30% of launches with these terms were in beauty and personal care, 12% were in the health and hygiene category, and 4% were in the pet category. Superfood drinks during the same period accounted for 11% of global launches.
Supergrains, one arm of this superfood trifecta, have experienced rising growth driven by several emerging ancient grain ingredients. Chia saw the biggest rise in usage in recent years, Mintel reports, with a 70% increase in food and drink products launched containing chia between 2014 and 2015. By the same metric, teff rose by 31% and quinoa rose by 27%.
“Desire for healthier, less-refined alternatives to wheat has fueled the rediscovery of ancient grains,” said Mattucci. “Flavorful 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 flavors and textures. They are a great way for free-from products to talk about health.”
With ancient grains performing so well, Mattucci notes that sprouting ancient grains may be the next category to rise in popularity, with sprouted quinoa as a possible contender to lead the charge.
Pulses are also earning more attention, Mintel notes, due in part to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) dubbing 2016 the International Year of Pulses. As evidence of the market power of pulses, Mintel’s research indicates that food and drink products containing green split pea, coral lentils, and yellow split peas have increased by 126%, 62%, and 21%, respectively.
“Pulses can be used to add a range of natural health benefits to food and drink products,” said Mattucci. “Additionally, healthy pulses are staples in many ethnic cuisines, offering manufacturers a pathway for product innovation for convenience-seeking ethnic food explorers.”
Super seeds have also seen an increase in usage over the past two years, such as chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds, Mintel reports. And going forward, Mattucci pegged turmeric and moringa as two superfood ingredients 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,” said Mattucci. “Additionally, moringa could be used in anti-aging beauty food products. While currently the ingredient is used in many beauty launches, the leaves are nutritional powerhouses.”
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