Vegetables are in vogue. Younger consumers, in particular, are becoming increasingly concerned with the health benefits of the products they consume but remain reluctant to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at the supermarket. Retailers like Coop Sweden and Pod have tried to cut waste and boost sales, with 90% of retail managers thinking that misshapen produce could be a success, but product formulation is still the most proven route.
As a result, brands around the world have found some innovative ways to incorporate vegetables and pulses into their products, and even their packaging. Here is a selection of four of the best.
Earlier this month, we revealed how Australian brand T2 was launching a range of teas made with vegetables.
Beetroot, broccoli and spinach might not be your cup of vegetable tea, but the new blends incorporate the types of ingredient that are packed with functional benefits. Kale, spinach and broccoli are good sources of vitamins A and C, while turmeric is a natural antioxidant that has even been shown to ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The teas are a step beyond juices – the first category to adopt vegetables as an ingredient – with SaladPower launching nutrient-dense vegetable juices and Sonoma Brands releasing drinkable vegetable soups in recent months.
Watch out for FoodBev’s feature on super-health drinks in December, or make sure you’re subscribed to take advantage of the feature on vegetable juices and drinks, scheduled for the second issue of 2017.
In August, Arla Foods launched a line of vegetable yogurts for children in four different flavour combinations, including raspberry and beetroot, sweet potato and mango, and blueberry and pumpkin. Arla said that the yogurts were designed to help parents get their young children eating fruit and vegetables, and the product highlights a burgeoning trend for vegetable flavours in dairy and dairy drinks.
In March, FoodBev talked to Canadian start-up Veggemo about its new line of dairy alternatives, which it claimed were the first of their kind to originate from vegetables.
And Arla’s Big Yogs followed a similar range from Australian brand Yummia, which last year unveiled three yogurts containing between 4.4g and 5.3g of protein in every 150g pot. The trio of flavours was strawberry and beetroot, apple and carrot, and cinnamon and sweet potato.
Plants and edible insects are being touted as the solution to the world’s protein needs, with the global population booming and meat appearing an increasingly unsustainable option. Last year, Israeli company Hinoman developed a food technology platform that will allow companies to grow high-protein leafy green vegetables safely, quickly and – importantly – the whole year round.
And in July, we reported on the Colorado-based company NewfoodZ, which had invented a “closed-loop” process to allow food and drink manufacturers and agricultural operators to turn food waste – including unwanted vegetables – into nutritious powders for a wide range of uses. Combining low-energy dehydration with the gentle milling of the product, the method was created to help guarantee food security for future generations.
As most six-year-olds will tell you, the best use for vegetables isn’t necessarily as food! British supermarket Waitrose has even created a way to turn waste vegetables into food packaging. Capitalising on the growing popularity of spiralised vegetables, the retailer launched a two-count range of gluten-free pasta alternatives, made using peas and lentils.
The spare peas and lentils that don’t make the grade are then used to help create the box in which the pasta is packed, rather than simply being discarded. The environmentally friendly packaging option, made from 15% food waste, reduces the use of virgin tree pulp by 15% and lowers greenhouse gas emissions by one-fifth. It is also 100% recyclable.
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