Chia seeds, a once exotic ancient grain originating from the heart of Central and South America, is now becoming one of the most sought-after superfoods across the globe.
According to Ingredient Network who cited data from food and tech supplier, Sous Vide Tools, google searches for chia seeds have increased more than 800 percent over the last decade, surpassing the growth in searches for other health food items such as turmeric, kale and avocados.
Chia seeds are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and contain all nine essential amino acids that cannot be made by the human body. Its functional health benefits are the main reason why the superfood has grown in popularity.
Its versatile flavor has also made it a resourceful ingredient for food suppliers to incorporate in both savory and sweet snack foods like muesli, bread and fruit juice. Other products that show promising growth in the chia seed market are better-for-you coffee blends, and chia oil, due to increased consumer awareness of the ancient grains’ healthy fats and how it contributes to a balanced diet.
According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, the number of new food and beverage items that contained chia seeds grew 70 percent between 2014 and 2016. The data also noted that people of different ages and nationalities varied in their liking for chia-infused products.
In Germany, 30 percent of adults surveyed were interested in trying bread that contained seeds or grains, with younger adults aged 25-34 showing more interest at 46 percent.
As chia seed popularity expands across the globe, so too will its production. According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, chia seed production has now surpassed South America, reaching countries like Australia, and the Asia Pacific to keep up with new global demands. In addition, the US also commercially grows the seeds.
The report further states the chia seed market was worth $66.5 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $88.1 million in the year 2024. As superfoods continue to gain mainstream attraction, manufacturers who invest in chia-infused products could reap the benefits that chia seeds bring in terms of current health trends. For example clean, naturally sourced, free-from and minimally processed foods, which is what consumers are now looking for on food labels when shopping, especially younger generations.
As Millennials and Generation Z alter the food industry, new trends will run their course, but chia seeds exceptional health benefits make it a promising food item that will likely experience long-term growth in the years to come.