Low carb life – week 1

Posted on:
September 19, 2017
Julian Mellentin

That consumers are increasingly avoiding carbs should not come as news to anyone. Sales of traditional carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta and bread are going down, and low-carb alternatives are becoming increasingly popular.

In 2016, 20% of Britons were said to regularly replace pasta and rice with vegetables, while 23% of Italians claimed to be limiting their pasta consumption for health reasons. This is reflected in the sales numbers; pasta sales for both countries decreased by 2% between 2011 and 2015, and continued to fall in 2016.

Meanwhile, the French were eating 30 grams less bread per person per day in 2015 compared to 2003, and US sales of pasta were down from $1.94 billion in 2015-2016 to $1.91 billion in 2016-2017.

There is undeniably a bit of a ‘carbophobia’ going on in the world, and as well as replacing ‘bad carbs’ with ‘better carbs’, some consumers take it a step further. “Going keto” – whereby consumers follow a ketogenic diet that excludes carbs almost altogether – is now a “thing”.

A bit of a ‘carb junkie’ myself, I never imagined that I would be one of those consumers. But I have always liked a challenge, so when the opportunity presented itself, I thought “Why not?”.

Many NNB readers will regard going keto as scientifically-challenged – and certainly eyebrows were raised around the NNB office – but here I am today, counting my carbohydrate intake as if my life depended on it, and wondering what I have got myself into.

I am now five days in to my new diet, and just about starting to feel normal again. The first couple of days can be summarised in one word: Ouch. My head was sore, my thoughts went missing and I found myself speaking the wrong language no less than three times.

“Don’t worry, it’s just the keto flu, it will pass,” my partner told me, while grating the cauliflower that would be the ‘flour’ in our home-made pizzas. I sincerely hope that he is right.

To be continued…

By: Mikaela Lindén

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Nuts for coconut

Posted on:
August 23, 2017
Julian Mellentin

Healthy. Hydration. Non-dairy. Malibu. These are some of the words that came up when we asked Millennials what they think of when they hear the word “coconut”.

In a series of focus groups, we asked people aged 24-33 from 13 countries for their opinions on coconut, and we got them to taste coconut-based milks, yoghurts, snacks and ice cream. Why? Because coconut is trendy, and it connects to two of the biggest key trends in the food and beverage market: plant-based and free-from.

Coconut has surged in popularity, driven by growing scientific interest, media attention, consumer interest and product innovation.

Between 2010 and 2016:
• the number of products launched with coconut grew by 318%
• the number of scientific studies on coconut grew by 28%
• there was a clear increase in Google searches using terms such as ‘coconut healthy’.

According to Mei Hin Liew, general manager of the Soya, Tea and Coconut Centre at Tetra Pak, consumers like the versatility and numerous health benefits of coconut.

And most of the people in our focus groups said they like the taste of coconut. Many were surprised by the good taste of the products they tried. The milks and the ice cream were especially popular – although non-dairy coconut yoghurt wasn’t so well-liked.

Our groups largely agreed that coconut was a naturally healthy ingredient, but they weren’t sure why.

The results of our consumer research highlighted some things that companies launching a product featuring coconut should do, to be successful:

1. Leverage the naturally healthy message
2. Use social media to communicate the potential benefits of coconut – but keep it simple
3. Be prepared to take a clear stance on the benefits/drawbacks of saturated fat in coconut
4. Target coconut-based dairy alternatives at a wider audience than just dairy-avoiders, using taste as a benefit
5. Coconut-based yoghurts need to be improved, particularly in relation to flavour and texture
6. Combine coconut with other flavours (preferably sweet ones)

With these pointers, smart companies may well be able to crack the coconut code.


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Lessons from the kale fairytale

Posted on:
August 10, 2017
Julian Mellentin

Kale was once the ugly duckling of the vegetable world. But it surprised everyone by blossoming into one of the coolest.

After initial success in America, kale has even spread its wings in Europe – you can buy high-protein kale quark in Finland and kale popcorn in France.

According to IRI, sales of products with kale grew 123% between 2013 and 2016 in the US. Mintel says that launches of products with kale increased 180% in the same period.

So how did this kale fairytale happen? There isn’t a simple answer, but here are some of the factors that worked for kale and that are key to making any natural food cool:

1. Make sure it’s nutritious – and talk about it. A lot.
Kale is high in vitamins C, K and A and its a source of calcium, iron and other minerals. While other vegetables are even bigger nutrient powerhouses than kale (spinach, chicory, other cabbages…) many consumers think kale is the uber-superfood of all greens – and that’s because the media talks about kale and its health benefits, a lot.

2. Make sure it’s versatile.
Kale works in smoothies, salads, sauces, snacks, beverages and spread. The options are endless, which makes it easier to give consumers new and exciting ways of incorporating kale in their diet.

3. Get it in the hip and trendy restaurants.
Kale salad – now a pretty regular option in many restaurants – could only be found in the trendiest ones a couple of years ago. In 2013, the New York Times wrote that kale salads were the “fashionable plat du jour”. If you want to make a vegetable cool, make sure it’s showing up in the recipes and menus of the cool chefs.

4. Find the right “good fairies”.
Key influencers played a big role in kale’s fortunes. Back in 2009 Dr. Oz introduced kale chips as one of his favourite snacks. In 2011, Ellen DeGeneres and Gwyneth Paltrow were making kale chips on Ellen’s TV show. In 2012 National Kale Day was born, created by a team headed by Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist, farmer and author of the “50 Shades of Kale” recipe book. Even Beyonce stepped in with a “KALE” sweatshirt on her 7/11 music video.

5. The power of PR
The “godmother” of kale is Oberon Sinclair, founder of My Young Auntie, a boutique PR agency. She claimed to have been hired by the American Kale Association (AKA) to “make kale cool” in 2013. In 2016 the National Geographic called her the “woman behind the Big Kale”. Oberon has confirmed in a media interview that in fact it was she who created the AKA, its website and social media presence, describing it as her “Proudest campaign ever. I’ve been trying to convert people for years to eat in a healthy way. I’ve always loved [kale]. It is an amazing vegetable.”

Kale is now an established ingredient, available in mainstream retailers. Even McDonalds is adding it to their products. Whether kale will be able to keep its momentum is another question, but its journey is an inspiring one for anyone wondering what’s going to be “the next big superfood”.


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