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‘Spice is a way to bring nuts and seeds mainstream’: Analyst

By Kacey Culliney , 19-Apr-2013

Chia seeds and hemp will shift mainstream but only with spice and convenience, says analyst
Chia seeds and hemp will shift mainstream but only with spice and convenience, says analyst

European consumers have got a taste for exotic flavors and a desire for healthier snack alternatives which means spiced nuts and seeds have enormous potential, an analyst says.

Nuts and seeds are seeing growth across many parts of Western Europe – including the Netherlands and Sweden, according to data from Canadean.

Ronan Stafford, reports analyst at the research firm, said the most promise for growing the sector further is in spiced variants, given consumer flavor preferences across Europe.

“There is a new food culture in Europe – inspired by India, China and Japan,” he said.

Stafford said that two factors had created this – immigration and increased travel access for Europeans. “Lots of Europeans have been to China or India and tasted the food there,” he said.

As a result, there is a clear desire for exotic and spiced flavors among European consumers, particularly in the West, he said.

“Chili is very popular. You could say chili broke the ground. This has since broadened to include paprika and now teriyaki is a rising flavor,” he said.

In light of all this, Stafford said that “spice is a way to bring nuts and seeds mainstream”.

“Spices make nuts and seeds seem a bit different, especially for consumers that still associate them as being a bit bland,” he said.

No trade-off with taste and health

Nuts and seeds hold an advantage over traditional processed snacks, he said, because they are healthier and can carry exotic flavors.

With potato chips and other traditional processed snacks, there is a traditional flavor expectation, he said, but with nuts and seeds consumers are more open to flavor experimentation.

“Traditional snacks have always struggled to convince consumers that reduced-fat and healthier counterparts taste as good as regular versions. But with nuts and seeds, you’re not making this trade-off with taste and health,” he said.

Bringing hemp and chia mainstream

Right now, the mainstream market for nuts and seeds is steered towards more traditional products like walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds, Stafford said.

Hemp and chia seeds remain more exclusive to the health-focused niche consumer group, he added, but he said these two products will start to edge into mainstream soon.

However, the analyst added that this shift would only succeed with the introduction of spices and the development of convenient packaging.

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