Monthly Archives: January 2014

10 Natural Ingredient Trends to Watch in 2014

COCONUT MILK is riding on the back of coconut water’s recent success and is being applied as a dairy alternative of choice. Coconut milk ice cream and yogurt style products with their natural image are very on trend.

KALE and other old fashioned veg have been revived to provide a natural and nutritious edge to a wide variety of products from baby food to snacks.

SPROUTED grains, seeds and nuts in their natural form are not processed and retain more of their nutrients and natural plant enzymes, which can be beneficial for the digestive tract.

COLD PRESSED claims are well established for oil products and this concept has extended to coffee, fruits/juices and nuts as more natural ingredient or product alternatives. Product

GRASSFED milk claims for use in dairy products and similar claims for meat products. They convey more natural open pastures images for rearing of cows and resulting ingredients.

CHIA seeds are the world’s richest plant-based source of omega 3, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants. Chia is a natural ingredient choice for bakery products and is also being rapidly applied in beverages.

STEVIA-based sweeteners, with their natural positioning, have taken the food and drinks industry by storm over the past few years, filling a gap in the market as demand for “clean label” products has risen.

HONEY is finding its way into new product domains such as chocolate and juices for its natural sweetening attributes, flavour and colour.

RAW CACAO or cocoa is being used in chocolate products and cereal & energy bars for more health benefits as well as to impart more intense and bitter flavouring.

GMO FREE or free of GMO ingredients is a claim which is increasingly being used on a wide range of products and not just limited to grain-based products.


3D Printed Pasta – the shape of things to come?

Pasta manufacturer, Barilla, is looking to introduce 3D food printers in commercial kitchens, allowing diners to design and print their own pasta.

Over the past couple of years, the company has been working with research organisation TNO in the Netherlands, and Kjeld van Bommel, project leader at TNO, says a number of experimental 3D food printers have already been installed in a few restaurants in Eindhoven.

TNO Pasta PrinterAccording to 3Dprinterplans, Barilla and TNO hope 2014 will be a big year for food printing, and have plans to move into the international market.

TNO has been working on improving the speed of the printers, which are now 10 times faster than they were two years ago.

Barilla is hoping 3D food printing will get to a point where users fill printers will dough cartridges, similar to the current inkjet printers, and providing consumers with great flexibility in terms of their pasta designs.  For example the consumer could surprise their partner with pasta in the shape of a rose for their wedding annivarsary.  By simply saving a design in a USB and bringing it into the restaurant, the 3D printer will print the shape on site.

Innovative Packaging – Microchips in packs that send a text message when food is going off

A new frontier in the fight against food waste has emerged after a UK Parliamentary committee heard how scientists are developing microchips that send a text message when the food is about to go of

A committee of peers examining how to minimise food waste was told that computer chips might be used to assess whether food is getting past its prime.

MicrochipAccording to a report from the BBC, committee chair and Lib Dem Baroness Scott of Needham Market had told environment minister Dan Rogerson that a witness giving evidence to the committee in the Netherlands said: “We’re quite close to commercial production of a small chip which would go into packaging which would measure the actual deterioration of the rate of food.”

She explained that the current convention of the best before date “just assumes that everything’s equal; it just assumes that you all keep your food at the same temperature whereas this would actually respond to what the real conditions are”.

Rogerson said: “I should be intrigued to know the range and amount of resource that would have to go into producing it.”

The computer chip could even “send you a text to tell you that it needed eating”, she said.

Lady Scott concluded: “I’m having enough trouble with my text messages without the fridge texting me.

“Realistic or not, it’s interesting to see where innovation can lead.”

While details of the development may be vague, it would follow on from a range of new technologies that have launched recently – and have received high-profile coverage – that are designed to either prolong the shelf life of products or indicate to consumers when food is going off.

A label from Insignia Technologies, for instance, indicates when food is best to eat and won the ‘Best New Concept’ award at last year’s UK Packaging Awards.

Meanwhile a number of food retailers, including Marks & Spencer, have adopted a strip for their fresh produce packaging called ‘It’s Fresh!’ that absorbs ethylene, which causes fruit to ripen and then go mouldy.

Oily fish ‘can increase brain size’

Eating more oily fish can increase brain size in later life and may help prevent age-related mental decline, a study has found.

FishPeople with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil preserve bigger brains as they age, the research shows. In particular, they maintain more nerve cells in the hippocampus, the brain’s key memory centre.

The larger neural volume linked to omega-3 intake is equivalent to reducing the effects of brain ageing by up to two years, say scientists.

Researchers measured levels of two essential omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, in the blood of 1,111 women taking part in the US Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study.

Eight years later, when the women had an average age of 78, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were performed to measure their brain size.

Those who started out with higher intakes of omega-3 were found to have larger total brain volumes. A doubling of omega-3 levels was associated with a 0.7% increase in overall brain size.

In addition, the hippocampus area was 2.7% larger in women with higher levels of the fatty acids.

Lead scientist Dr James Pottala, from the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls, US, said: “These higher levels of fatty acids can be achieved through diet and the use of supplements, and the results suggest that the effect on brain volume is the equivalent of delaying the normal loss of brain cells that comes with ageing by one to two years.”

The findings are published in the latest online edition of the journal Neurology.

Shrinking brain volume is a known sign of Alzheimer’s disease as well as normal ageing.

Dr Laura Phipps, from the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ” There has been mixed evidence as to the benefits of omega-3 fish oils on the brain and whether they may protect against memory decline and dementia.

“This study suggests that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in blood are linked to larger brain size but the possible reasons for this association need further investigation. We know that the brain gets smaller in people with dementia, but it is unclear from the study what effect larger brain size would have on memory and thinking in the volunteers or their long-term risk of developing dementia.

“The best way to assess whether omega-3 could protect against dementia is through clinical trials and so far, trials of omega-3 supplementation have not shown benefits in protecting against cognitive decline.

“Currently, research suggests that a balanced diet, along with regular exercise, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check may help to keep our brains healthy as we get older.”

Dr Doug Brown, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ” It’s interesting to see that eating more fish could lead to larger brain volume, particularly in the hippocampus – an area of the brain that comes under attack in dementia.

“We know that brain shrinkage can be linked to dementia and larger brain volumes could indicate a better ability to cope with the ravages of the condition, but it’s a big leap to draw this conclusion.

“Whilst interesting, this study still leaves us in the dark about what effect eating fish has on the development of dementia.”

The world’s first ever KitKat boutique opens in Japan

KitKat JapanA chocolate boutique dedicated to KitKats has opened in Tokyo in Japan, where the wafery chocolate bar is considered a cult item and lucky charm.  In Japanese it sounds like kitto katsu, which translates as ‘you will surely win’.  The KitKat Chocolatory opened in Seibu Department Store in Ikebukuro, and will sell only gourmet bars aimed at an adult audience.

KitKat fans in Japan have been able to choose from varieties including Purple Potato, Cinnamon Cookie, European Cheese, Bean Cake and Wasabi – unwrapping sticks of pale green, delicate pink and lilac chocolate that look and taste very different from those anywhere else in the world.

These special varieties are available only in certain regions of Japan, using ingredients and flavours linked to the local area. KitKat Kobe Pudding, for example, has a creamy custard pudding flavour, with a hint of citrus and is only available in Kobe.

Kit Kat 1Three limited edition tastebud-ticklers – Sublime Bitter made with couverture chocolate, a very high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter, Special Cherry Blossom Green Tea, made with cherry blossom extract, and Special Chili, which contains a chilli pepper cream filling – are being stocked in-store.  Only 300 Sublime Bitter bars will be sold per day, as the chocolate-work is done by hand. Each bar costs 315 yen (£1.83).  The 500 bars available on opening day sold out in one hour forty minutes.

The brand KitKat was invented by Britain’s Rowntree confectionery company in 1935, but until 1937 was called the Chocolate Crisp.


Datamonitor’s TrendSights – Consumer and Innovation Trends in Ready Meals 2013 Report

The long-term challenge for ready meal brands has been to persuade consumers that such products have strengths above and beyond those of convenience alone.  The brief outlines the most important consumer and product trends impacting the ready meals category globally, using Datamonitor’s TrendSights mega-trend framework as a basis to organize the key themes covered.

 Features and benefits:

  • Each section is introduced with a concise SWOT analysis that outlines how each TrendSights mega-trend can be applied to the ready meals category.
  • Consumer insight analysis covering 24 countries globally highlights the key attitudes and behaviours that drive consumers’ ready meal preferences.
  • Draw inspiration from numerous case studies and product examples throughout the brief that showcase best-in-class innovations in ready meals.


‘Action on sugar’ formed to reverse obesity epidemic

action on sugarLeading health experts from across the globe have united to form ‘Action On Sugar’ – an unprecedented call to tackle and reverse the obesity and diabetes epidemic.  Obesity is a major crisis facing the UK and practically every country around the world, and yet there is no coherent structured plan to tackle obesity.  This group will initially target the huge and unnecessary amounts of sugar that are currently being added to our food and soft drinks.

Action On Sugar will carry out a public health campaign, to make the public more sugar aware and thus avoid products that are full of hidden sugars.  Children are a particularly vulnerable group targeted by industry marketing calorie dense snacks and sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

The major initial focus of the group will be to adopt a similar model to salt reduction pioneered by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH).  This model has become one of the most successful nutritional policies in the UK since the Second World War, by setting targets for the food industry to add less salt to all of their products, over a period of time.  As this is done slowly, people do not notice the difference in taste.

Salt intake has fallen in the UK by 15% (between 2001-2011) and most products in the supermarkets have been reduced between 20 and 40%, with a minimum reduction of 6,000 strokes and heart attack deaths a year, and a healthcare saving cost of £1.5bn.

A similar programme can be developed to gradually reduce the amount of added sugar with no substitution in food and soft drinks by setting targets for all foods and soft drinks where sugar has been added.  Action On Sugar has calculated that a 20 to 30% reduction in sugar added by the food industry which, given a reasonable timeframe (3-5 years) is easily achievable, would result in a reduction in calorie intake of approximately 100kcal/day and more in those people who are particularly prone to obesity.

It’s not just the well-known brands, such as CocaCola which has a staggering 9 teaspoons of added sugar, but flavoured water, sports drinks, yogurts, ketchup, ready meals and even bread are just a few everyday foods that contain large amounts of hidden sugars.

Additional aims of the group include:

  • To educate the public in becoming more sugar aware in terms of understanding the impact of sugar on their health, checking labels when shopping and avoiding products with high levels of sugar.
  • To ensure that children are highlighted as a particularly vulnerable group whose health is more at risk from high sugar intakes.
  • To ensure clear and comprehensive nutritional labelling of the sugar content of all processed foods.
  • At the same time we would conduct a Parliamentary campaign to ensure the government and DH take action, and that, if the food industry do not comply with the sugar targets, they will enact legislation or impose a sugar tax.



Supermarket ‘spies’ check out authenticity of British-branded products

Magify Food

The Daily Mail (11.01.2014) reported that undercover shoppers are   targeting supermarkets and fast-food chains to investigate the authenticity   of food products branded as British. Items that are thought to be suspicious   will be sent for ‘isotope’ tests, which can accurately determine the real   origin of fruit and vegetables and identify where cattle and sheep had been   grazing. The operation has been launched by the Food Standards Agency (FSA),   and follows a call from environment secretary Owen Paterson for shoppers to   buy more British food. FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said ‘We want to   make sure that consumers are getting what they are paying for’.

Brits revealed as worst in Europe for unhealthy snacking

Brits have been revealed as being the worst in Europe for unhealthy snacking, with 41% of us filling up on crisps, cookies, cake or chocolate. We do this more often than the other nine nations in a survey by Fruyo, which looked at 4,000 people from the UK, Poland, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Spain and Greece.

Only 15% of us snack healthily – in comparison to Spain, at 27%, and Greece at 25%.

While we may not snack as often as some countries – Brits were found to snack twice a day – our unhealthy choices add up. Over a third (39%) of us admit to consuming more calories each day through snacking than we do at meal times. There is also a subset of secret snackers – around 8% of us do so in secret (although we swear in must be higher).

As for why we snack, rather than hunger acting as the main motivator, most of us seem to snack out of boredom (41%) while others have mentioned stress and a lack of energy.

Nutritionist and food writer, Fiona Hunter, said: “These results show exactly how wrong many people in the UK are getting it when it comes to snacking. It should be a positive occasion – using well chosen products to provide important nutrients. But too many of us are instead turning to ‘grazing’, which involves grabbing something to fill up on that’s quick, easy and often unhealthy.

“When it comes to snacking, Brits need to plan ahead so that they’re not caught short in a moment of hunger and think about products which are high in protein so will keep them fuller for longer, helping to resist further temptation.”

Additionally, the findings showed:

•  Scotland is the unhealthiest snacking region in the UK (with a ranking of 45%)

•  London tops the healthy regional snack league table, with results of 17%

•  Poland is the mecca of snacking; its inhabitants eat more snacks – an average of 2.2 a day – with the people of
France the most snack-averse at an average of just 1.4.

•  Most popular time to snack in the UK is 3.04pm, potentially signalling a ‘mid afternoon slump’ and desire for
something to eat.

•  However, nearly a third (32%) of Brits snack after 6pm, highlighting that these people may be choosing evening
meals that don’t fill them up properly.

NEW! Tesco Healthy Living Range

Tesco Healthy Living

Tesco is continuing with the overhaul of its own brand food range, launching a new brand called “Tesco Healthy Living” to appeal to health-conscious customers in the post-Christmas period.

The new brand replaces healthy food ranges “Tesco Light Choices” and “Tesco Eat Live Enjoy” and includes 230 products including bakery, ready meals and yoghurts. The new range will offer two options: “Big on Taste, Lower in Calories”, which offers products with 30 per cent fewer calories than comparable products and is aimed at people trying to lose weight, and “Beautifully Balanced”, aimed at people wanting to make healthier choices.

Tesco says all the products in the new range have “controlled” levels of salt, sugar, fat and saturated fat. They also meet Tesco’s “Responsibility Deal” commitments to the government on salt content.

Tesco Healthy Living1The supermarket claims that 83 per cent of the products that come under the new healthy living brand are “new or improved” and all have been benchmarked against Tesco’s other own-brand ranges to ensure they match on flavour. Tesco UK marketing director David Wood says the company has drawn on new food trends and the expertise of staff and suppliers to create a range that “tastes better, looks better and is even more healthy”.

“Helping our customers and colleagues to lead healthier lifestyles is very important to us. This range represents a shift in the way we think about healthy foods – we want to give our customers great tasting products that make choosing healthier options easy,” he adds.

Healthy foods is the third Tesco own-label range to get a revamp in the past year, following the relaunch of its premium “Finest” and “Everyday Value” brands.

Tesco reported sales from stores open for a year or more fell by 1.5 per cent in the company’s third quarter. The company will provide a Christmas trading statement on Thursday (9 January).

Own-brand products are becoming increasingly important as competition within the supermarket space continues to grow. All of the big four supermarkets are expected to have lost market share over the Christmas period as customers increasingly head to the discounters such as Aldi and Lidl at the bottom end and Waitrose and Marks and Spencer’s at the premium end.

NEW! Lurpak Slow Churned Butter


As its name suggests Lurpak® Slow Churned is produced slowly over several hours in small batches, using organic cream. The result is a unique, fuller tasting Lurpak butter, presented in a stylish sliver dish, that’s perfect for slathering on homemade sourdough, or dotting on warm scones.

Inspired by traditional production methods, Lurpak Slow Churned butter is a celebration of its long history of dairy craftsmanship. Made by slowly churning cream over 5 hours in small batches, the result is a fuller tasting flavour sure to excite any butter connoisseur. Wrapped in traditional parchment and enclosed in a protective aluminium dish, the contemporary styling will sit as comfortably on the tabletop as it does in the fridge.