“Nuts and seeds have become a beloved ingredient. They are so versatile, so nutritious and people completely believe in the healthfulness of nuts – from the good fats to the fiber” to their high protein, Kara Nielsen, a trendologist, said during a recent Packaged Facts webinar to promote an upcoming report on 2017 culinary trends.
“And so,” she added, “we are going to continue to see innovation and new nuts and seeds come into our diet,” including “exciting new expressions of them” as well as updated twists on traditional options.
For example, she noted most Americans are familiar with peanut butter, but new kinds of nut butter – including “super-charged nut butters” packed with functional ingredients, such as probiotics and added protein, are becoming “big.”
Innovative, on-the-go packaging, such as single serving tubes consumers can squeeze directly into their mouths or reclosable pouches that simplify spreading, such as that offered by Naturally More, are “raising the ante” and pushing consumption up, Nielsen added.
Nut meats fuse two macro trends
Another “new guise” for the “magic of nuts” that is gaining traction in the US are savory fillings and meat alternatives, Nielsen said.
She explained that while vegetarians and vegans have made meat alternatives from nuts for years, “we have seen small entrepreneurs around the country start to offer” pre-packaged nut-based meat alternatives online and in stores.
Nut Case Vegan Meats are a blend of brown rice, quinoa, walnuts, hazelnuts, seeds and spices formulated as fresh alternatives to chorizo, hot Italian sausage, burgers and breakfast sausage.
The founder of Neat Meat Replacement mix advanced the idea of fresh nut meats more towards convenience food by making it a shelf stable mix that asks consumers simply to mix with eggs and water. Like Nut Case Vegan Meats, Neat Meat comes in a range of flavors.
Both of these companies are examples of “entrepreneurs not finding what they need in the market and creating them and opening up … whole new categories around which there is a lot of energy and interest,” Nielsen said.
Farther on the development and mainstream adoption horizon are products featuring watermelon seeds, such as the snacks from Go Raw, green peanuts and black sesame seeds, Nielsen said, adding that this category will only continue to grow in the coming years.