© Peggy Greb, USDA ARS
Ingredients company EHL Ingredients has predicted that nuts, grains and beans will soar in popularity, with 2016 forecast to be “a protein-packed” year.
Additionally, sales of organic ingredients and medicinal herbs are expected to grow as part of a marked increase in health-conscious consumers.
Alternative, natural baking ingredients, free-from foods and healthier replacements are likely to overtake artificial products, as new research reveals consumers would accept decreased shelf life and lower quality taste in exchange for the removal of artificial ingredients in their products.
Tasneem Backhouse, sales director for EHL Ingredients, said: “Protein is a key buzzword in the food industry and we expect its popularity to grow even further in 2016. We have seen increases in sales for our protein-packed ingredients such as seeds, nuts and grains, suggesting consumer demand is gathering pace for protein intake.
“Tasty, versatile and nutritious, walnuts and almonds offer great sources of protein. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats, and antioxidants, while almonds are calcium-rich and high in vitamin E making them an attractive inclusion in bakery items and snack foods.
“Grains such as quinoa have paved the way for other, lesser known products, and [the ancient grain] freekeh has proved popular with EHL’s customers.
“A staple of middle eastern cuisine for centuries, freekeh has a smoky, nutty flavour, but absorbs flavours well. It’s a great addition to chicken or vegetable dishes. It’s low in fat, and – again – high in protein.”
According to Backhouse, a boost in sales for organic products has also shown that healthy eating has reached the mainstream.
“There’s a clear consumer trend for only eating whole, natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, meats and wholegrain carbohydrates and because health-conscious consumers are opting for natural alternatives where possible, sales of organic herbs and spices are set to increase in 2016. These are an easy and effective way of adding flavour to healthy dishes, so healthy doesn’t have to mean boring.
“EHL stocks a wide variety of organic herbs, spices, blends, beans, pulses and dried fruits, which are perfect for adding to healthy main courses, prepared foods and snacks and bakery items.”
Backhouse said that BBC baking series The Great British Bake Off was beginning to inspire consumers to use alternative baking ingredients, many of which are gluten-free as the trend towards free-from product continues.
“Using vegetables to bake with, such as courgettes, aubergines and sweet potatoes, is on the increase, and gluten-free baking that incorporates alternatives to the usual wheat flour is seeing a huge surge in popularity,” Backhouse said. “This is mainly due to the growing interest from consumers adopting a gluten-free or gluten-reduced lifestyle, which they believe will offer significant health benefits. We’re planning to develop new gluten-free ingredients and blends to tap into this consumer demand.”
And a fresh approach to tea and coffee has also been noted as an emerging trend by EHL Ingredients, which now offers products such as nettle leaves for tea and dandelion coffee.
“We have seen sales of medicinal herbs such as nettle leaves, rooibos, chamomile flowers and cut raspberry leaves rise by 10% in 2015, and we expect this trend to continue into 2016.
“Dandelion coffee is particularly interesting, and is a product that we predict will grow in popularity with cafés and juice bars that wish to offer a larger range of alternatives to traditional teas and coffees. Dandelion coffee is naturally caffeine-free and tastes very similar to coffee, but is less acidic. A cup of dandelion coffee contains iron, zinc, potassium and antioxidants.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019