New Nutrition Business identified ‘good carbs, bad carbs – the stead rise of good grains’ as a trend for 2015 in its food nutrition and health annual update.
Julian Mellentin, director of the research and consulting firm, said this was a trend that had been bubbling for some time but had heightened this year and was here to stay.
“It’s actually been developing quietly over about five years and a very small segment of consumers have arrived at their own conclusion that if they either reduce the amount of carbs they consume or turn away from those they perceive as problematic, they enjoy better health,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Whether this was scientifically true or not remained irrelevant, he said because it was a very real trend among consumers that would continue for a decade and so industry had to act.
“It’s manifesting itself mostly in wheat – people have the most reservations about wheat, discussing ‘hidden wheat’ like ‘hidden sugars’,” he said.
These consumers, he said, were turning to alternative grains like quinoa, chia, oat and buckwheat.
“People are turning to other grains they perceive as more natural. But a lot of people get confused and say it’s all about ancient grains – these are a tiny part of the market. You can’t say ancient grains will be big, that’s nonsense – you need to look at each grain individually.”
Get into that niche!
Bakery and cereal product development, Mellentin said, had to target the broader ancient grains area but specifically home in on niches within that.
“Manufacturers need to get into these niches now and grow with them… in Europe it should be within two to five years. The US market is much more advanced, though, and people probably have to move next year or never. It’s capitalism – it is winners and losers.”
The move towards healthier grains was an evolution among consumers, he explained, much like how dairy had evolved. “If you look at dairy and how probiotics came along, back 20 years ago looking at Activia, it’s hard to believe it was a niche brand.”
If manufacturers acted now, he said the shift away from carbs could be an opportunity for new brands and business.
Don’t forget indulgence
For those bakery and cereal makers wanting to tap into these new grains, Mellentin said indulgence would remain vital.
“In terms of bakery, indulgence really has to come first. Consumers want things that give them pleasure and indulgence. Health comes secondary to that. The two can then work synergistically like Belvita has done with breakfast. Belvita has got sustained energy messages that are great but people are buying a cookie that is basically 20% sugar. You’ve got to put the two things side by side,” he said.