Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA ahead of our FREE-to-attend webinar on June 20 - ‘Chewing the fat: Navigating the healthy fats minefield' - chief growth officer Debbie Shandel said that ghee has an allure for some shoppers that goes beyond its lactose-free credentials.
“Ghee is a staple in traditional Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine, and while I don’t think everyone is using it for cooking Indian dishes, they like the romance of it, the fact it’s been around for centuries and it has better for you connotations [an internet search confirms this widely held view although it is not supported by much clinical data]. A lot of celebrity chefs have been cooking with it on the cooking shows and using it in their recipes, so it’s definitely trending with the at-home chef.
“It also has a slightly nutty flavor [as the milk solids caramelize in the fat as it’s boiled before they are removed].
“We were one of the first to come to market with organic ghee and since then we’ve introduced an organic grass-fed ghee with pink Himalayan salt and a coconut and ghee blend. It’s really trending nicely for us, so we’re also looking at introducing more ghee blends.”
With a high smoke point making it suitable for cooking at very high temperatures, ghee “has a nice spreadable texture” and is shelf-stable with a very low moisture content, she added.
Consumers have so many more choices now
Carrington Farms – which has recently unveiled a packaging refresh – is best known for its coconut oils in jars, tubs, single-serve sachets, bottles and sprays, but has also developed blends of coconut oil and other trending oils (ghee, avocado), and introduced some organic specialty oils (flax, chia, black cumin, and pumpkin seed oil) for consumers looking for more options beyond soy, canola and olive oil in the cooking oil set, said Shandel.
While many consumers are continuing to buy large bottles of canola or soybean (vegetable) oil for their day-to-day needs, they are also buying higher-priced oils for specific recipes or occasions, said Shandel, with some using pumpkin seed or black cumin as 'finishing oils,' for example, or adding a tablespoon of flax or chia oil to smoothies.
“The pumpkin seed oil has a really nice toasted pumpkin seed flavor and you can add a little flavor to your dish as you take it off the heat, so the oil is warmed by the food but you’re not using it as a frying oil," she explained.
“Consumers have so many more choices now. Even five or 10 years ago you’d mainly just see canola and vegetable oils [soybean] and some olive oils in most conventional grocery stores, but in the past three to five years we've seen so much more variety, from walnut oil and grapeseed to avocado oil, and it’s a nice well-rounded shelf. People are open to trying new things from a brand that they trust in the category.
“We’re investigating a couple of other specialty oils for Q4, but I can’t say what they are yet.”
Coconut oil trends
Retail sales of coconut oil – a category demonstrating explosive growth in recent years – have been declining over the past couple of years according to SPINS data, with the strongest reversal of fortunes in the conventional (MULO) channel, where sales soared by 38.8% in 2015, but fell 5.2% in 2016, and sank 25.9% in 2017.
However, things have stabilized at Carrington Farms in recent months, said Shandel. “Our core customers who use coconut oil for everything from cooking to beauty, I think they are still using it daily, but I think the AHA advisory [click HERE] had some impact on the market. But we’re seeing growth in the blends of coconut with avocado and with olive and ghee – it’s an easy transition.
“We were the first to market with the liquid coconut oil –which is easier to use and pour - and we’re just about to bring out an organic liquid coconut oil in June, so that’s very exciting.”
Virgin coconut oil is solid at room temperature, and tastes very coconutty, but by removing some of the fatty acids with higher melting points via a proprietary distillation process, Carrington Farms has developed a liquid version that does not taste and smell of coconuts.
- Confused about fats? Sign up for our FREE-to-attend webinar on June 20: Chewing the Fat: Navigating the healthy fats minefield, and quiz our experts on the science around fats & health, find out how consumers are thinking about fats, and access new market data ...