A ground-floor growth opportunity presents itself

Posted on:
March 6, 2017
Julian Mellentin

Blog post fermentation google 2Social media is buzzing about fermented foods – even in countries with conservative food cultures, such as France, where industry will be tempted to dismiss the development as something weirdly American and not what sensible French people are interested in.

The restless, food-explorer consumer can find a wealth of bloggers and online sources recommending kombucha and other fermented teas, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, pickles, vinegars, tempeh and a host of other fermented foods for their digestive health benefit. Against this tide of more interesting alternatives, yoghurt looks like a less exciting option.

Against 0.5% growth for the $6.9 billion US spoonable yoghurt market in 2016 (IRI), kefir experienced 16% sales growth, for the third year in a row. Vinegars, a $544 million market, grew 11.7%, with an average annual growth rate of 9% in the past three years, and kombucha, now a big and established business, grew by 7%.

Fermented beverages offer consumers a way to get the benefits of good bacteria – and avoid the sugar that they associate (rightly or wrongly) with fruit yoghurt – and give a pass to dairy which, as the surging plant-based milks and desserts markets illustrate, is struggling to keep the loyalty of the ultra-health-conscious.

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

Digestive wellness, the strongest and longest-lasting trend, is key to the success of fermentation. Consumers need to “feel comfortable inside” and they are increasingly opting for lactose- and gluten-free products, and plant-based drinks.

Smaller categories offering more interesting routes to digestive health are achieving greater sales growth than dairy-based probiotics. Innovative start-up Rhythm Health spent nearly a decade developing a probiotic formula that would thrive in a coconut-milk based kefir drink. Its flagship product, a non-dairy kefir shot, is marketed as “100 percent natural” and with no added sugars, connecting with the widespread consumer belief in “naturally functional”, and the need to lower sugar intake.

Fermentation also connects to the plant-based foods trend. Companies have already tapped into this need by creating single-serve vegetable-based snacks – a format that fits well with fermentation.

Fermented vegetables are a well established idea in consumers’ minds – they’re a traditional food format, such as kimchi or tempeh in Asia. Offering a fermented chilled vegetable-based snack that is ready-to-eat can connect to that idea of traditional use and be credible.

Fermented beverages and foods are slowly on the way up – even in France.

You can find out more by New Nutrition Business’ new report Fermentation: how to make a trend into an opportunity at ( http://bit.ly/2kUuruT).

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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 ( http://bit.ly/2kUuruT).

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, http://bit.ly/2kZnZQ1 ), 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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