Turns out the smallest of ingredients can make a big difference. Seeds and grains seem to be making it big on the recent health trends, including in both snacks and baked goods.
This rise in sales might be due to the healthier consumer demographic and the growing awareness of the nutritional benefits to seeds and grains. It could also be that consumers are more intrigued by the textures and flavors that come with the use of seeds and grains in food products.
Seeds were previously only seen with other seeds and nuts or dried fruit. They are now branching out because companies are adding more single-seed packs as an ingredient in home cooking and baking, and for snacking. According to Innova Market Insights, around one third of US snack nuts and seeds featured seeds with other ingredients or alone, in 2017. This is up 26.5 percent from 2012.
Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are in the lead as they were featured in 13.6 percent and 12.9 percent of snack and nut releases in 2017, respectively.
There are a range of new offerings that include seeds. Sunflower products are seen in commodity-style kernel snack packs and also more value-added products. For example, Walgreen’s Nice Roasted Sunflower Kernels with Sea Salt or Bigs Sunflower Seeds with Bold & Tangy Buffalo Wing Flavor are new additions to the healthy snack lineup.
Trendy flavors are also seen in products containing pumpkin seeds. Organic Spicy Pumpkin Dry Roasted Seeds from Eden Foods and Dry Roasted Sweet & Salty Pumpkin seeds from Gold Emblem are just two examples of how these seeds can be reinvented. Both sunflower and pumpkin seeds are incredibly popular in trail mix – trendy flavors added to theses products could benefit manufacturers by helping their products stand out on store shelves.
However, trail mix and snacks aren’t the only category seeds fit into. Seeds are also popular in bakery products including breads, biscuits and cereal bars. About 25 percent of US bread featured seeds of some sort in 2017. Two interesting, recently-launched baked products that use several seeds include Krogers Simple Truth Organic Multi-Seed Bagels with sesame, sunflower, flax, poppy seeds and pumpkin seed and Arnold Whole Grain Extra Grainy Bread with 17 Grains and seeds. Other than bagels and bread, 31 percent of biscuit launches in 2017 featured seeds to add flavor and texture to the product.
There also seems to be a growing interest in hemp seeds (Cannabis sativa). Hemp has more recently been used in foods and drinks, now switching from a product prominently seen in health food stores into a wide range of products. In the past five years, the amount of US food and drinks containing hemp has almost doubled.
Manufacturers might look into using hemp for its benefits. The benefits of hemp include being a high-quality plant-based protein that is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids which can help reduce cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Although products that contain hemp are increasing, cereals/cereal bars accounted for more than 30 percent of US launches in 2017. Other categories including hemp include snacks at 14 percent, seasoning and sauces at nine percent, dairy at seven percent and bakery at eight percent.
What about grains?
Though seeds are growing in popularity, grains also seem to be benefiting from this trend. Grains are often seen in the same products as seeds, including in trail mix, and used as ingredients in meals or baked goods. Grains are normally seen in a lot of better-for-you products. Most grain products feature a range of ancient grains. In 2017, quinoa led the list by appearing in 44 percent of all US food product launches with ancient grains. Thirty-seven percent of all new product launches included chia and millet came in last appearing in 22 percent of new launches.
According to a Euromonitor report, ancient grains are being called out as a component of the new healthy living trend. It’s also stated that eight out of ten consumers are aware that whole grains are healthy. In fact, 52 percent of consumers seek out nutrients from whole grains. The whole grain market is expected to grow from 2017-2021 at an annual rate of 6.71 percent. When it comes to the US, whole grain intake has increased across all age groups by 50 percent from 2003 to 2014.