Did you know that hot and cold cereals are the fastest growing category for turmeric? Read about this trend and others.
Every year, millions of pounds of turmeric (Curcuma longa) are imported to the United States. Much of it ends up in spice products and dietary supplements, but the yellow root is finding a home in an increasing number of alternative products. More research on turmeric and its active compound curcumin is certainly encouraging sales. With new innovations that make it easy to formulate turmeric into a wide range of products, the primary challenge left is taste. And turmeric product makers seem to be handling that quite well.
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Surprisingly, hot and cold cereals are the fastest growing category for turmeric. According to the market research company SPINS, hot and cold cereals formulated with turmeric rose 928% and 620%, respectively, last year, raking in a combined $1.35 million in U.S. sales.1 Unlike with berries, consumers aren’t likely to encounter freeze-dried turmeric chunks in these cereal products. A small amount of turmeric powder is enough to make an ingredient label more attractive and impart some unique turmeric flavor.
Purely Elizabeth, a maker of granola, oatmeal, and snack bar products, unveiled single-serve oatmeal with turmeric last year. The company’s Coconut Turmeric Vibrant Oat Cups feature coconut and turmeric with oats, quinoa, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
Photo from Purely Elizabeth
Snacks represent another turmeric category that’s flourishing. In tracking the global number of turmeric food and beverage launches from 2014 to 2018, Innova Market Insights observed that snack launches jumped from the fifth leading spot in 2014 to the third in 2018, only to finish behind sauces & seasonings and ready meals & side dishes.2 Turmeric snacks made up 9.9% of global food and beverage product launches in 2018.
The market potential for turmeric snacks is evidently strong enough that the multinational corporation Tyson Foods wanted to join in. Last September, Tyson Foods introduced its new Pact snack bites brand featuring, among other products, Turmeric and Ginger Prebiotic Snack Bites.
2.Innova Market Insights, Innova Database, “Turmeric Trends & Products,” May 2019.
Photo from Tyson Foods
In most cases, turmeric exhibits poor solubility and deep yellow color in liquid. In other cases, manufacturers may use more soluble or less pigmented turmeric ingredients, such as those introduced a few years ago by turmeric supplier Sabinsa Corp. (East Windsor, NJ). Regardless of whether sedimentation and color are concerns or not, turmeric beverage launches are increasing in general. SPINS reports that of all the turmeric product categories it tracked in 2018, refrigerated juices and functional beverages were the fourth largest, compiling nearly $12 million in U.S. sales and falling just a few million behind shelf-stable teas.
Though it may be possible to mask turmeric’s bitterness with especially sweet flavors, flavors on the spicy and bitter side may be most complementary. Cha Cha Matcha, for example, recently introduced a canned matcha beverage featuring ginger and turmeric.
Photo from Cha Cha Matcha
Not to be outperformed by emerging turmeric categories, turmeric dietary supplements continue to perform well, even if some marketing experts believe the sector will reach maturity in a few years. SPINS reports that turmeric dietary supplements brought in just under $93 million in U.S. sales in 2018, and that number is only for single-ingredient products.
There’s no denying that turmeric dietary supplements are still extremely popular. Where growth can be had is in technical advancements. “Turmeric extract can be challenging to work with,” says Shaheen Majeed, president worldwide of Sabinsa. “It has a fluffy consistency with poor flow properties, and labor costs can be higher for extra cleaning due to the staining properties of its vivid yellow color.” The turmeric ingredient supplier is addressing these challenges with several grades of its C3 Complex ingredient, such as directly compressible, high-bulk-density, and high-granular-particle options, making for improved capability in liquid and powder-based supplements.
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As tends to happen with popular botanical ingredients, adulteration is making a dent in turmeric sales. Various reports highlight the financial and public safety risks of turmeric adulteration, so it’s important to vet ingredient suppliers when purchasing this in-demand raw material. Adulterated turmeric ingredients may be made with synthetic versions of curcumin, turmeric’s primary active ingredient, or little to zero curcumin.
Industry groups, such as the Global Curcumin Association, are closely monitoring this global problem and providing best practices and guidance for sourcing turmeric responsibly.
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