Just in case you haven’t been to BIOFACH 2014 in Nuremberg this Feb, here’s what you’ve missed. Of course, we can’t cover everything new and innovative that has been displayed at the fair, although it wouldn’t be that much. How come?

Going nuts for healthy solutions

Raw Vegan Snacks from Superfoods

Snacks from Superfoods

Having browsed through the „innovations corner“ at the fair, it became evident, that astonishingly few products are really groundbreaking innovations. Most of the products showcased at the fair were incremental innovations of existing product concepts, e.g. combining existing ingredients with other existing ingredients or putting them into new usage contexts. The big trends seem to be vegan and „-free“ (e.g. gluten free, lactose free, nut free, even soy free). Especially „gluten-free“ is becoming more and more popular. We’re probably going to see a similar development of gluten-free, (and other allergene free products) as we’ve seen in the US, especially California, where gluten-free products own big shelves at the POS. Vegan as well has now definitely arrived in the mainstream. Together with „gluten-free“, „vegan“ appears to be the magic formula for new product concepts in the health/organic food sector.

Raising the bar

The aforementioned trend has been picked up quickly in the past months by the snack-bar category. Sugar loaded, milky/chocolaty snack bars are a thing of the past. The future is raw & vegan. The good thing about this new trend in healthy snacks is, that most of the brands also refrain from adding the usual suspects like oats, wheat or other form of classic cereals, making their bars not only „vegan“ but also „gluten-free“. Almonds, dates, figs, fruits, seeds and the so called „superfoods“ are the main ingredients.

Superfood Chia Bar

Superfood Chia Bar by RooBar.

On top of that, „raw“ is another magic word, that now appears on more and more products. Raw is defined as natural food that has not been heated or at least to less than 40°C, thus carrying more of the valuable enzymes. Most of these new snack-bar brands are now following at least one of the above mentioned trends. That, together with unique and fresh product design and packaging, the new bars are revitalising the snack-bar shelves at the checkout counters. Plus, pricing is between 1,49€ and 1,99€ but people seem to go for the new healthy solutions despite the higher price.

Superfood ingredients – you Neem it

What exactly is a „Superfood“? Isn’t natural food „super“ by itself? Sure, there are foods that contain more of the good stuff and there are some foods containing less. (Not talking about those, that don’t contain anything at all anymore…) Seems as if we’d need a term to label something that could be described as: „natural food, mostly from tropic regions, that has been there for thousands of years, used in traditional diets for its good properties but has just recently been discovered by northern industrialised countries and their big brands“. And this is exactly, what currently happens. Long been neglected, underutilised or forgotten at all, these „hidden champions“ of food now enjoy a new popularity. Maca, Lucuma, Chia Seeds, Neem, Maqui, Camu Camu, Açaí, Reishi, Baobab and so on.
What would have been a niche thing like Spirulina 15 years ago now proudly occupies a space on the shelves of the organic food stores. The varietey of different products, different brands and also players in the market has never been bigger. We can see more and more companies, especially young startups entering this segment. On the one hand, these „superfoods“ are sold as pure products, such as powders, for individual food enhancement. On the other hand, more and more of these plants / fruits find their way into other products, such as the above mentioned fruit bars. But also drinks, chips, or other snacks. There definitely is a consumer trend towards convenient snacking but without the guilty feeling. On the contrary, people want to have the feeling, that this „superfood“ they’ve just consumed, might be able to do some „magic“ using all its power of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.

These new ingredients provide an enormous potential. Not only healthwise but also commercially. It is undisputed, that markets like the US or Europe are seeking these new and exciting ingredients, plus, these markets are still in the beginning when it comes to the incorporation of superfoods into day-to-day products and the consumer adoption of these products. But more importantly, these new ingredients provide a huge commercial potential for producers in developing countries as well. As with all neglected and underutilised species, producers need access to knowledge on how to improve cultivation as well as access to the benefits that originate from the cultivation and trade of novel ingredients. Inclusion into value chains and ownership of commercial processes are key. Importers and manufacturers have to make sure, that local producers get these accesses, consumers in target markets have to actively look for the true and transparent story behind the brands.

At Biofach you could see a couple of these companies, providing new (and not so new anymore) ingredients from fair and direct trade such as „Flores Farm„, „Rainforest Foods„, „Guayapi„, „africrops„, „Baola“ and „Bigtreefarms„. Direct and fair trade with their partners in the countries of origin with the goal to establish sustainable livelihoods for producers is what they have in common. Most of them have been founded by driven and idealistic individuals, who share a vision of making the world a better place through fair business on eyelevel.