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Food science is amazing. It seems like every day research is uncovering new information about individual ingredients, while modern manufacturing processes are able to unlock powerful benefits. The mechanisms at work have propelled the beverage industry to new heights and have given new life to the cereal and snack foods categories.
These high-tech answers to our diet and lifestyle challenges are helpful, but there’s a part of us that chafes a bit. We want natural, we want simple.
Such innate desires likely explain the concurrent growth of the seeds segment of the ingredient business. Foods like quinoa, chia and farro have been around for ages — eons — and used in ancient cultures the world over. Seeds are typically high in fiber, healthy fats and protein.
Helping to spur the growth is their use in gluten-free foods, where they replace wheat as an ingredient.
More than that, though, it seems as if consumers might like reverting back to simple, natural foods to fortify their diets.
“Anything with a naturally functional claim — chia, quinoa and coconut fill that bill — will do well in this environment for quite some time,” is how Marc Brush my Penton Media colleague at Nutrition Business Journal, puts it.
Indeed, NBJ statistics show that sales for chia alone grew 170% in the natural channel last year. Definitely some seeds for thought.