“The process 'behind the finished product' is moving into focus and becoming a premium attribute not only for the health-obsessed, but increasingly also for consumers generally looking for higher quality," says Mintel food and drink analyst Julia Buech.
This could be seen as a natural transition from the clean label movement as consumers grow increasingly wary of additives, allergens and chemicals in food but also ken to preserve natural nutrients.
“The concept is based on the understanding that the extreme heat of conventional cooking destroys many of the food’s beneficial enzymes and renders its nutrients mostly unusable. In raw-labelled foods, none of the ingredients have been heated to a temperature above 48°C in order to preserve enzymes and nutrients.”
There are no regulations surrounding the actual definition of what constitutes raw processed food, meaning there is some variation in interpretations. According to Teresa Havrlandova, founder of raw food firm Lifefood, any food that is heated above 45°C does not qualify, while Polish company Papagrin sells“42° products made with 42° technology”, such as its bread flavoured with onion, garlic flaxseeds and unhulled sesame seeds.
The top country for raw product launches in Germany, according to Mintel data, followed by France and the UK, Finland and the Netherlands.
The market research company has been tracking the number of raw product launches in Germany for the past four years and, although still relatively niche, it has seen the claims skyrockets in the past year,
with almost half (48%) of the country's raw launches occurring in 2015 alone.
Raw claims can be seen on a diverse range of products, featuring prominently on the product packaging if not directly in the brand name, and snacks by far take the lead, accounting for almost one third (32%) of raw launches in Germany between 2014 and 2015, such as Raw Bite's organic peanut fruit and nut bar or Roo’bar chia energy bar.
According to the Mintel analyst, the popularity for raw, nutritious ingredients in snack bars stems from a backlash against what is seen as a heavily processed category, with four in 10 Germans (42%) saying conventional bars are too processed.
Meanwhile a raw claim on crisps can boost the healthy image that vegetable crisps already enjoy by dispensing with the frying oil. Lifefood manufactures Crawnchies vegan stackable crisps while Inspiral’s Beetroot and acerola kale chips are air dried at low temperatures for several hours.
Another popular category for testing out raw ingredients is dairy, making up nearly one fifth (18%) of raw launches. Cheese made from unpasteurised milk is gaining traction, for instance, as it doesn’t have any of the health risks associated with drinking raw milk but benefits from added flavour, and the share of raw cheese launches nearly doubled between 2012 and 2015, rising form 5% to 9%. What’s more Mintel’s product launch database shows even some private label brands are getting on board, such as Rewe’s organic mountain cheese.
Raw chocolate confectionery holds plenty of promise. Although it currently accounts for just 1% of total chocolate launches, Mintel data shows raw chocolate product launches increased a massive 580% between 2012 and 2015, and account for 12% of raw launches, while a survey of 1000 people found over half (56%) were interested in trying raw chocolate.
Meanwhile there are a few categories that have been under-explored by German manufacturers, leaving other European countries to step in.
"While raw launches in Germany are on the rise, activity in the country is still under-represented in a number of categories, such as cereals or soups, for example. The white spaces offer future opportunities for both domestic and international brands," says Mintel.
Soupologie’s raw range – such as cucumber, avocado and kale or beetroot and mint – describes itself as the UK’s first raw soup, while Italy’s Ambrosiae Übergranola is raw chocolate, goji and coconut cereal with a German-inspired name no less.