Seize the day in digestive wellness

Posted on:
February 23, 2017
Julian Mellentin

digestive picIt’s a sign of the times. A small sign, admittedly, but as is so often the case in business, the smallest signs turn out to be some of the most important ones.

As the picture shows, healthy-and-natural foods retailer Whole Foods Market has created a special Digestive Health section within the chiller cabinets of its UK stores.

Fitting in neatly between the milk and the yoghurt, it’s a section devoted to one of the biggest consumer needs (along with sustained energy).

One third of people suffer from some form of digestive symptoms – the most common ones being bloating and constipation (Source: World Gastroenterology Organisation (2016)) and maintaining digestive wellness becomes a bigger focus as people age.

Digestive wellness has consistently been a key driver of growth for the food and beverage industry for 20 years, lying behind some of the biggest shifts in our market:

  • It’s a trend that has spawned some of the world’s biggest and most successful probiotic dairy brands (Danone Activia and Yakult, to take just two examples, with combined sales of $6 billion).
  • It’s the consumer quest for digestive wellness that has – without any question – been the driver of the gluten-free, dairy-free and lactose-free trends.
  • It’s the quest for digestive wellness that has been the main driver of growth for plant milks – most almond milk and other nut-milk brands reference the benefit of “digestive comfort” on the label or in marketing.

The field of digestive health, like many others, is fragmenting and people are becoming more open to digestive benefits from a much wider variety of products.

It is this openness of consumers to new experiences that is behind the rapid growth of a new market for fermented foods and beverages

When PepsiCo, the world’s second-biggest food and beverage company, bought small fermented drinks maker KeVita in late 2016, it sent a clear sign that fermented foods have reached a tipping point (

Smart companies will seize the digestive health and fermentation opportunity now, at Day One.

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The sportification of almond butter

Posted on:
February 13, 2017
Julian Mellentin

Nut pouch picConvenience is key to success in every category, from dairy to vegetables. It’s key if you want to sell your product in on-the-go retail channels, such as convenience stores, gas stations and cafés at airports and rail stations. And it’s key to reaching important consumer groups like millenials and people doing sport.

So it was only a matter of time before the centre-store products that have traditionally been sold only in bulky, inconvenient “family sizes”, had to face the fact that it’s time to cast off their old commitment to volume.

Nut butters – peanut, almond and others – have been rapidly growing in popularity, powered by growing awareness of the health benefits of protein.

But a 340g jar of almond butter is of limited use to someone in a hurry who needs a snack on-the-go. The introduction of 30g single-serve sachets is long overdue. The example above (see picture) is one of the first on the market, produced by start-up Pip & Nut.

Pip & Nut’s product is an example of Sportification (see New Nutrition Business 10 Key Trends 2017, ), which is changing the landscape in food and many other categories.

Until recently some argued that sports nutrition would go mainstream and that we would all be gorging ourselves on sports beverages and snacks.

In reality, the opposite is happening. Sports nutrition products score low on naturalness in the eyes of most people, so when they want a food or drink while they exercise, they choose instead natural foods – and ideally presented in a convenient single-serve form.

A single-serve product, positioned for sport, has driven sales growth for a surprising number of companies, from cake-maker Soreen to bar-maker Clif.

Peanut and almond butters are the latest category to be “sportified”. As it says on Pip & Nut’s sachets:

“Perfectly-proportioned sachets to squeeze on-the-go or squirrel away for later.

  • Before a run
  • After the gym
  • In your lunchbox
  • At your desk”

Generations past might have thought twice about sucking peanut butter out of a sachet, but it’s normal now, thanks to the growth of sports gels and squeezable pouches of fruit purees, dairy products and more.

Whatever category you are in, the on-the-go, single-serve product is fast becoming a basic requirement.

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The one ingredient you must think about this year

Posted on:
February 1, 2017
Julian Mellentin

Waitrose turmeric yoghurt 2In Sydney and Melbourne you can order a turmeric latte in any city-centre café or buy a turmeric latte pre-mix in a supermarket, to take home.

In America and Canada, where dietitians are teaching people how to make their own turmeric lattes at home, you can already buy bars and beverages that feature turmeric.

In maybe half of UK kitchens you can already find it in the pantry as a familiar ingredient in home-cooking.

And in London, Manchester and Glasgow, you can now buy turmeric yoghurt.

Soon it won’t only be India where turmeric is a “normal” and familiar food ingredient.

While the mass-market isn’t yet ready, the most health-aware 20% of the population certainly is. The online discussion about turmeric’s benefits – from inflammation fighting to cancer protection and better-looking skin – is surging.

And don’t disparage the science: turmeric is one of the most-researched food ingredients. Turmeric has excellent “naturally functional” credentials – an advantage that’s already proven to be the most powerful driver of growth, from almonds to blueberries to coconut.

Waitrose is a 120 year-old, UK-wide supermarket chain – with a reputation for high quality – which is owned jointly by its employees and a charitable trust, making it more attractive than Wal-Mart to shoppers with a strong moral compass.

The retailer has debuted the UK’s first yoghurt to feature turmeric. It may even by the first in Europe.

Waitrose has always done what America’s Whole Foods does – delivering the wares of small, creative producers and healthy, natural foods (and at much more competitive prices than Whole Foods).

The company is good at sensing trends, so it’s newest yoghurt line-up under its own brand has a vegetable theme.

They come in four flavours, including:

  • Kiwi, Avocado and Matcha Tea
  • Pineapple, Butternut Squash and Turmeric
  • Carrot, Mango and Guarana

The range contains significantly less sugar than fruit yoghurts – which consumers seem to be turning away from – with 11.4g of sugar per 125g serve (that’s about 9% sugar) in the Butternut Squash and Turmeric variant.

Is there enough turmeric in one 125g pot to make a difference to your health? Probably not. But that’s not the point.

Turmeric is trendy, adds vibrant colour to the finished product – and it’s a nice health halo for the ever-growing number of people who want to get more into their diet.

Any company in the western world that doesn’t have a product featuring turmeric in its new product development plans – or imagines that it doesn’t need to because “people in our country will never eat that” – should think again. Turmeric is coming.

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