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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Activity trackers: game changers or bathroom scales for the 21st century?

Posted on:
January 16, 2017
Julian Mellentin

FitBit pic 2 Tracker pic 4After millions of dollars of investment and hundreds of thousands of hours of work by code-writers and engineers, it looks as if we might have re-invented the bathroom scales.

Admittedly, what we have now is shinier, hi-tech, and more portable. But also more expensive than traditional bathroom scales.

Personal activity trackers such as Fitbit, Apple Watch and others are much-loved by fitness-oriented 20-35 year-olds, helping them keep track of their personal best runs, cycle-rides, steps or whatever.

Silicon Valley and the world of tech loves to promote itself as “game-changing” and making the world a better place in which technology is “the answer” to whatever problems we messy humans have. But the great hope that trackers could help fight the overweight crisis is beginning to look over-blown.

The unthinking naivety of the tech world was neatly summarized by a professor of preventative medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, who was quoted in USA Today as saying: “If you put a scale in someone’s bathroom, that doesn’t mean they are going to lose weight. The tracker is not going to tie your running shoes and move your feet.”

The evidence? A study published in the medical journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology1 investigated the extent which an activity tracker – with or without cash incentives – could increase physical activity and improve health outcomes among working people during a 6-month period.

Employees from 13 organizations in Singapore were randomized into 4 study groups, ranging from a control (with no tracker) to a group that was given a tracker plus cash payments if they logged more than 50,000 steps per week.

The result? No evidence of improved health outcomes because of the trackers. Within 6 months, 40% abandoned the Fitbit and by month 12 that number increased to 90%.

The researchers say that because there are beneficial effects among participants in the Fitbit group at month 12 (despite the lack of wear), it is possible that participants wore the unit for a brief period of time, learned about their activity patterns, and then stopped wearing it.

The cash incentive was most effective at increasing physical activity, but this effect stopped after the cash payments stopped.

Another study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association2, investigated the effect of wearable technology on weight loss, body composition, fitness, physical activity, and dietary intake over 24 months among 470 adults aged 18-35.

The 470 participants were divided between a group that followed a conventional behavioral weight loss intervention and another that had the added advantage of wearable technology.

The result? Both groups had significant improvements in body composition, fitness, physical activity, and diet.

But the conventional weight-loss group had an average 5.9kg weight loss after 24 months in comparison to 3.5kg in the technology-enhanced group.

The PR engines of the tech companies behind the tracker market burst into life, with their own critique of the study results: “We would strongly caution against any conclusion that these findings apply to the wearable technology category as a whole.”

As health researchers, food companies, drug makers and doctors know very well, there’s no magic bullet when it comes to fighting overweight and obesity. It has to be tackled from many different angles. The tech industry has overlooked this complexity and may have over-promised in its excitement about its gadgets.

It’s people taking action that produces change. Technology is not “the answer”. Technology can at best be a handy tool to back up people’s own efforts – rather like a set of bathroom scales, perhaps.

1 Effectiveness of activity trackers with and without incentives to increase physical activity (TRIPPA): a randomized controlled trial. Finkelstein et al. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2016;4: 983–95

2 Effect of Wearable Technology Combined With a Lifestyle Intervention on Long-term Weight Loss, The IDEA Randomized Clinical Trial, Jakicic et al. JAMA. 2016;316(11):1161-1171. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.12858

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