EU imports of chia seeds have increased fivefold since 2012.
A new report from Rabobank has suggested that demand for edible seeds in Europe has peaked, requiring food producers to find new ways to innovate and drive sales in newer markets.
Edible seed consumption in the EU exceeded more than 1 million tonnes in 2017, according to Rabobank, with imports of chia seeds and quinoa increasing fivefold since 2012.
However, demand and import growth have recently slowed in Europe’s most mature markets, such as Germany, France and the Netherlands, raising the possibility that the EU has reached ‘peak seeds’.
Product innovations in snacks and meat alternatives aimed at health-conscious consumers like flexitarians increasingly contain edible seeds, which will be key to creating fresh demand in mature markets, according to Rabobank. These innovations are providing consumers with alternatives to premium cereals and seeded bread as they look for new alternatives.
Rabobank believes producers will also look to tempt EU shoppers outside of maturing markets of north-western Europe into consuming more seeds to offset slowing growth.
Stefan Vogel, head of agri commodity markets at Rabobank, said: “We’ve seen so many new seed-based products hit the markets in recent years, such as snacks and bars, seeded breads, and alternative breakfast products, but the sector will need to further innovate to achieve future growth.
“Suppliers will need to have their finger on the pulse when it comes to feeding into product development. The consumer will ultimately determine how much of their products should be made up of chia or sunflower seeds, for example.
“Suppliers must keep on top of consumer trends to ensure supply aligns with developments on the demand-side.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019