Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

Posted on:
November 16, 2017
Julian Mellentin

Back in the 1990s, launching a reduced-fat avocado would have seemed like a good idea – this was the period when consumers’ fear of fat and the belief that ‘fat makes you fat’ was at its peak.

But in 2017, when consumers can distinguish between ‘good fats’ and ‘bad fats’ – with plant foods firmly in the good fats camp – the benefit is not so clear.

A Spanish fruit company – Isla Bonita – has been making headlines with the launch of ‘Aguacate Light’. Already available in many places in Spain, key claims are:

  • 30% less fat than other avocados
  • Bigger size, softer skin and softer flesh
  • Gets ripe fast
  • Oxidises slowly

The Food and Health Program of the Spanish Heart Foundation has given the Avocado Light its seal of approval as a product with reduced fat content.

Whether you are creating new brands or breeding new varieties of plants, you need to be aligned with consumer trends. A low-fat avocado doesn’t look like something that is aligned.

The humble avocado’s fat content has been no barrier to it becoming one of the trendiest foods of affluent urbanites – with Millenials, in particular, driving a craze for smashed avocado on toast that at one point was one of the biggest hits on Instagram.

Surging sales of avocado aren’t just about it’s cool factor. In the last five years 328 studies have been published on the intrinsic health benefits of avocados – studies that fuel positive media attention and consumers’ online discussion. Against that back-drop it’s hard to see a low-fat avocado creating a winning point of difference.

However, success isn’t all about health. Avocados are showing up in beverages and that may be where Aguacate Light’s best chance might lie. The company behind it says that it’s juicier and lighter pulp, “makes it ideal for the preparation of smoothies, cold soup, gazpachos, cocktails. So now, avocado can also be drunk.

Drinkable avocadoes? If kale did it with all it’s taste challenges, so can avocado.

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How to harness the Good Carbs, Bad Carbs trend?

Posted on:
November 14, 2017
Julian Mellentin

Consumers’ quest for better and fewer carbohydrates is creating a wealth of opportunities, even in the mass market, according to 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2018, New Nutrition Business’ annual trends report.

The trend is fuelled by emerging science – discussed in the media and online – that associates carbs with health issues such as weight gain and blood sugar response.

A recent NNB survey shows that in Spain, as many as 63% of consumers are regularly trying to eat fewer carbs, in the UK, that figure is 48% and in Australia 47%.

How are companies responding to the trend? They adopt one or more strategies, the biggest of which are:

1. Reimaging and reformulating: It’s not only about substituting whole grains for refined wheat, for example, but offering gluten-free variants to take away a big digestive health issue that many consumers have with carbs. A good example is Explore Cuisine, one of several companies offering pastas and noodles made not from wheat but from dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas.

Some companies are opting to reimage “bad” carbs into “good” carbs. Hamburg-based milling giant Good Mills has launched a new type of wheat that directly addresses consumer concerns about gluten and difficult-to-digest carbs. Called 2ab Wheat, it is free from gluten and addresses concerns about FODMAPs, a rapidly-emerging consumer concern.

2. Greener carbs: Creative NPD and skilful food technology are for the first time making vegetables as convenient vegetables as traditional carbohydrates. In the US, Green Giant markets spiralised vegetables and riced cauliflower, and is massively expanding its range.

To find out more about the Good Carbs Bad Carbs trend, watch our new video here.

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Is swapping the suburbs for city life the best way to beat obesity?

Posted on:
November 8, 2017
Ann Eshaw

Diets and exercise programs might have to make space for a third weapon in the fight against obesity – swapping the suburbs for European-style city centres. If we did, we could all be slimmer and healthier, according to a new study.

The study (by Sarkar et al.) published last month in The Lancet challenges popular beliefs about city life, saying that you’re probably better off living in the city than in the suburbs.

The researchers used data for 419,562 adult men and women aged 37-73 years, from 22 cities across the UK, and found that people living in built-up residential areas have lower levels of obesity than residents in scattered, suburban homes.

“Below a residential density of 1,800 units per km2 was associated with higher BMI, waist circumference, and whole body fat, and with increased odds of obesity. Above 1,800 units per km2, residential density has a protective effect across all the markers of adiposity, being beneficially associated with BMI, waist circumference and whole body fat, and with decreased odds of obesity,” the study says.

So why is obesity less common in densely built areas? The answer is walkability. “As cities get more and more compact, they become more walkable. In denser residential areas, they are better designed and more attractive destinations. We are less dependent on our cars and use public transport more,” co-author Chinmoy Sarkar was quoted as saying in an interview with Reuters.

In other words, being close to things and having more opportunities to build your social networks might actually lead to a more active and healthier life.

Author: Ann Eshaw

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