A report released by Mintel on May 5 notes that the 'superfood' moniker doesn’t only apply to fruits, but also includes grains such as quinoa, as well as vegetables such as kale and sweet potato.
According to Mintel's Global New Product Database (GNPD) data for 2015, the US led with the most product launches featuring the terms “superfood,” “superfruit,” or “supergrain,” with 30% of all global 'super' product launches.
“The success of superfoods is likely to continue as consumers are looking for products that not only deliver on healthfulness but also deliver a new and unique flavor,” predicted Mintel.
But what does it mean?
“In general, superfoods are seen as healthy, nutrient dense or antioxidant-rich foods,” Stephanie Matucci, global food science analyst at Mintel, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“Superfoods tap into consumers’ desire to be healthy and the descriptor ‘super’ is often used to promote the benefits of nutritionally dense foods.”
The appeal of superfoods is especially marked in contrast to fortified food, or the need to add compounds such as ascorbic acid into a product instead of just using the vitamins that came with the ingredients. “Much of the appeal of superfoods comes from their natural benefits,” Matucci added.
The report lists turmeric, moringa, ancient grains, pulses, and certain seeds as ingredients to look out for in this category.
Between 2014 and 2015, there was a 70% increase in the percentage of food and drink products (globally) launched containing chia, says Mintel, while the percentage of food and drink products containing teff rose by 31%.
Meanwhile, the percentage of food and drink products containing quinoa rose by 27%.
Over the past two years, the percentage of food and drink products launched with green split pea has grown by 126%, whilst the percentage of food and drink products containing coral lentils has grown by 62% and the percentage of food and drink products containing yellow split peas has increased by 21%, adds Mintel.
Making it stay
Just as organic jumped from the niche to the mainstream, Matucci expects the use of superfood ingredients to stay, but marketers have to be creative and not overuse the term to the point of passé.
More than just actually delivering the ingredients’ nutritional promises touted by manufacturers, developing interesting backstories to intrigue consumers is one way to keep customers interested, Matucci added.
“Superfoods have become more ubiquitous in recent years, moving from exotic fruits, such as goji, pomegranate and acai, to most recently including more humble foods, such as kale,” she said.
“In the future, superfoods will have to do more to get consumers’ attention in a crowded marketplace.”