Mintel identifies 4 ingredients to watch

Bakers Journal
November 28, 2017
Written by Bakers Journal
London, U.K. – Four ingredients are piquing consumers’ interest and expected to excel in 2018: chaga mushroom, green banana flour, hemp and blue algae.

As many as 41 per cent of Italian, 38 per cent of Polish, 35 per cent of German, 32 per cent of French and 21 per cent of Spanish consumers say they enjoy experimenting with ingredients, research firm Mintel said in a news release.

Chaga mushroom          
Consumer interest in ingredients with natural functionality is high and, as a result, the chaga mushroom is receiving renewed interest, especially among German consumers. About three-quarters of German consumers agree that the health-promoting benefits of natural foods such as fruit and vegetables are preferable to the added benefits of functional foods, according to Mintel’s research. Half of Spanish consumers have used a functional food or drink product containing antioxidants.

“Traditionally known as a medicinal mushroom, chaga mushrooms are touted as being rich sources of beta-glucans, antioxidants and certain B vitamins,” said Emma Schofield, global food science analyst at Mintel, in a talk at the recent Food Ingredients Europe show in Frankfurt. “Chaga is conventionally grated into a fine powder and used to brew a beverage resembling tea of coffee, more recently however, chaga has been used in cold drinks, food supplements and health-care products. Brands looking to turn to chaga mushroom to enhance their products can emphasize the ingredients properties as an adaptogen. The term adaptogen is not legally or scientifically recognized, but, is touted as being a substance that can help the body cope better with mental or physical stress.”

Green banana flour
Gluten has been thrust into the spotlight in recent years, with the number of products featuring gluten-free claims booming. According to data from Mintel’s Global New Products Database, 12 per cent of bakery products launched in Europe in the year to September 2017 carried a gluten-free claim, up from just six per cent of those launched in the year to September 2013. Taking advantage of this trend is green banana flour, whose use in food and drink products is starting to take off.

“Green bananas are simply unripened yellow bananas; however, from a nutritional perspective, they are very different. Green banana flour is gluten-free and rich in resistant starch; as a result it is emerging as a fibre-rich, clean-label, grain-free flour,” Schofield said.      

Hemp
Aspirations for healthier and “cleaner” lifestyles are motivating consumers to include more vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains into their diets. More than one in four consumers in Germany say they are incorporating more protein into their diet compared to a year ago, while nearly one in four say they are incorporating more vegetarian foods, such as soya burgers and vegetarian sausages, into their diet compared to a year ago.

“Hemp seeds have been ignored for a long time, but the ingredient is said to contain a complete set of amino acids and a similar total protein content to soybean, it also contains micronutrients such as vitamin E and omega acids. As a result, hemp is emerging as a clean-label plant protein ingredient that could thrive in plant-based, free-from and high-protein innovations,” she said.

Blue algae
The rise of social media has spurred a rise in innovations that look as good as they taste. As a result, colours, particularly natural colours, are receiving greater attention, the research suggests.

“With the exception of a few examples such as blue cheese and blueberries, blue colours aren’t associated that positively with food and drink; however, more blue coloured foods are beginning to emerge. The superfood spirulina provides colour with health and can be used to provide a blue colour in food and drink. Blue spirulina is making its way into cold-pressed juices, protein powders and even lattes,” Schofield said.

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