Is fruit peel the next snack craze?
of their diet, according to a survey released this week.
The survey was carried out by the UK Food Standards Agency to help judge if eating peel should be taken into account when working out how much pesticide residue people are likely to eat in their foods. However the results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that health-conscious consumers are turning to healthy snacks that are unusual and adventurous. Of the 2,011 adults contacted in the research, 385 said they consumed at least one type of fruit peel. They were then asked about what kind of peel they ate. The majority of consumers eat just one or two types of fruit peel, and the most common choices are orange, followed by lemon, kiwi fruit, grapefruit and mango, according to the survey. At the other end of the scale, one per cent of people questioned admitted to eating peel from lychee, passion fruit and even avocado. The FSA also divided people questioned into groups according to how they ate fruit peel. For example, out of the nine per cent of people who ate orange peel, four per cent ate it directly from the fruit. The other five per cent ate it in marmalade and baked goods. Banana peel consumers tuck in most regularly, as 80 per cent of them eat the snack once or twice a week. People who eat kiwi fruit are not quite so eager, with two-thirds choosing the treat only once or twice a month. The FSA noted that peel popularity depends on location. About 27 per cent of the south of the UK admitted to eating fruit peel, 16 per cent of those living in the north, and 14 per cent of those in the Midlands region. The findings could be significant for manufacturers hoping to profit from the trend for healthy snacks, as health-conscious consumers look for alternatives to chocolate, biscuits and cakes. According to consumer group Mintel, the healthy snack market is poised for significant growth. The niche seeds sector is expected to almost double over the next five years to hit £39m (€58m), while sales of dried fruit have grown 56 per cent in the last five years and are now already worth £176m (€262.4m). Consumers are however no longer content with "traditional" healthy snack choices. The Mintel report found that consumers are increasingly demanding "exciting and more adventurous snacks". Manufacturers who have tried to provide for this consumer desire include Eat Natural, who in April invested £1m (€1.46m) in developing snacks such as luxury cereal bars with pear, pecan, ginger and dark chocolate. In May, food researchers in Italy even developed a new process for formulating vegetable-based treats. The team, from the Institute of the Science of Food Production (ISPA) based in Bari, used typically Mediterranean ingredients such as peppers, onions, tomatoes, egg-plants and olive oil to produce crunchy, bite-size snacks.