Organic Superfoods Are Still Booming
Take a closer look at the developments and trends that are giving rise to a promising multi-billion-Euro global industry.
Superfoods are extraordinarily nutrient-rich foods that are considered highly beneficial to human health. While the measurability of these benefits is still a matter of debate in some scientific circles, a widespread and increasing demand for superfoods in Europe is carving the path for exciting new products and businesses. Take a closer look at the developments and trends that are giving rise to a promising multi-billion-Euro global industry.
The past decade has seen a steady surge in the supply of superfoods across several different markets. According to a global study conducted by Mintel GNDP, from 2011 to 2015, the number of new products listing a minimum of one superfood as an ingredient rose by a whopping 202%.1 The market intelligence agency attributes this stark increase to the “strong consumer demand for highly nutritious products.” The same study went on to reveal that superfoods are being utilised in the following sectors: food (43%), beauty and personal care (30%), health and hygiene (12%), drinks (11%), and pets (4%). Furthermore, after witnessing a staggering 70% increase in foods and beverages containing chia from 2014 to 2015, Mintel highlights the nutrient-rich seeds as a rising star in the superfood category. The agency also named turmeric as a “superfood to watch” in the years to come.
Fast-forwarding two years, in 2017, the likes of pea protein powder, turmeric, chia, matcha, and maca made it to CB Insights’s list of 13 emerging investor-backed ingredients.2 According to their findings, these trending superfoods are rapidly on the rise in the food industry’s startup landscape. In 2018, CB Insights went on to publish a fascinating trend report on the future of foods.3 Their data highlights intensified “diet tribalisation” as a consumer and media-driven trend that has helped bring superfoods to mainstream markets. CB Insights also lists the “diversification of alternative proteins” as a significant growth factor. “As consumers have increasingly sought plant protein, we see startups offering new types of substitutes for meat and dairy. (...) As these startups multiply, some are pioneering new plant protein types that go beyond nuts or soy. Pea protein, algae protein, and chickpeas are seeing strong early-stage momentum.” With startups such as Beyond Meat and Daily Harvest pioneering superfoods’ uses, players along the entire supply chain are increasingly looking for innovative, new ways to utilise these ingredients.4,5 By 2023, research institutes estimate a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the superfoods market of up to 17%.6
Origins and Uses
Many superfoods are native to exotic regions of the world. As a result, supply chain transparency is essential, and product certifications are as crucial as ever to European buyers. At foodcircle, our organic cacao beans originate from Peru, while the seeds for our organic hemp protein powder are grown on certified organic farms in East-Asia, and our organic turmeric is cultivated in India. Regardless of their country of origin, all our wholesale organic superfoods undergo strict quality controls and comply with EU organic regulatory requirements. We guarantee the quality of our ingredients with our strict vetting processes and our close relationships with trusted partners around the globe.
Our existing customer base orders superfoods in bulk to be used as ingredients in a wide variety of different products. And our organic turmeric powder serves as a prime example for this. Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound. For centuries, it has been both a popular ingredient in curries and a staple in Ayurvedic medicine. In recent years, Western consumers have caught on to its health benefits, resulting in European market growth for turmeric being projected at 12-17% annually until 2022.7 Today, turmeric is not only making its mark in health drinks, protein bars, and desserts, but it is also being used in the beauty and cosmetics industry in moisturisers, face masks, and oils for the skin.
Interestingly, this year we have witnessed a significant rise in the demand for previously lesser-known superfoods in the wholesale market, such as lucuma powder and camu camu powder. The former is a caramel-flavoured, low Glycemic Index natural sweetener that is increasingly finding its way into a wide range of desserts and baked goods. The latter, on the other hand, is revolutionising the market for juices and smoothies thanks to its extraordinarily high levels of Vitamin C which, at 1,882 - 2,290 milligrams per 100 grams of fresh fruit, measure 60 times higher than the levels found in oranges.
Rapid growth comes with its own challenges, and the superfoods industry has certainly not been exempt from unexpected setbacks. In 2014, for example, the significant increase in the global demand for chia seeds prompted a drastic overproduction by South American farmers.8 As a result, the price fell from 11 USD/kilo to 1.5 USD/kilo and many farmers were left to grapple with the leftovers from their yields. Hence, they became wary of the crop and new planting reduced significantly the following years. Though the market went on to stabilise itself, the incident served as a stark reminder to the fragility of booming markets. As international competition continues to rise, the livelihoods of small farmers for crops such as quinoa remain at risk.9 Likewise, shifting climates are taking a toll on crops all over the world, and many effects remain to be seen in the years to come.10
Although as a term, “superfoods” is widely accepted and welcomed by consumers, lack of regulation around labelling gives way to somewhat of a grey area in the marketing sphere. Sarah Shaerman from the Guardian aptly highlights this phenomenon: “As appetite has grown for these trendy foods, which often come with a high price tag, so has scrutiny over their stated benefits, with some brands like coconut water Vita Coco and pomegranate juice Pom Wonderful dialling down their initial marketing claims.”11 As a result, we urge our customers to find innovative ways of utilising superfoods as ingredients in their products, while underlining that the potential health benefits are to be marketed with care.