North American consumers are approaching diet, sustainability and their perception of innovation in new and interesting ways, according to cutting edge research by Mintel. Three key trends (diet by D.N.A., from the inside out, and fat sheds stigma) all relate to how consumer perception of health and wellness may be changing.
“Interest in natural and getting back to basics has boosted ancient grains and superfoods, fostering a principle that age-old staples are better than today’s manufactured options,” says Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst for Mintel. “Interest in historical ingredients suggests that consumers could make efforts to unlock the keys to their personal physiology and design diets by connecting with their own ancestry or genetic make-up.”
Two ingredients that no trendy retail foodservice operation would dare leave off the menu these days are kale and quinoa. Although some recent media reports suggest that quinoa fatigue has started to set in and another ancient grain is about to steal the show, quinoa fans need not despair, according to Food Formulation Trends: Ancient Grains and Sprouted Ingredients, a report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.
The sustained appeal of quinoa and ancient grains, generally, can be attributed to the growing number of products containing them that flag the lack of genetic modification or gluten, or both. Their ability to add visual, flavor and textural appeal must also not be overlooked. Clearly, the stories behind ancient grains resonate so strongly with consumers and the nutritional and health benefits are so compelling that there is plenty of room for quinoa to share the stage with less widely known ancient grains.
This is particularly true for millennials and consumers age 39 and younger. Findings from the April 2015 Packaged Facts consumer survey indicate that while nearly 30 percent of all US adults purchased ancient grains either in restaurants, as prepared foods or as packaged foods or beverages or bulk bin items at food retailers in the past 30 days, almost half (46 percent) of those age 18 to 39 purchased them. These younger consumers consistently purchased ancient grains as packaged or bulk product at retail in the past 30 days at much higher rates than consumers age 40 to 49, who consistently demonstrated higher purchase rates compared with consumers age 50 and above.
While it has been largely assumed that quinoa has been way out ahead of the pack when it comes to ancient grains, the Packaged Facts survey shows that the same percentage of younger US consumers age 18 to 39 bought quinoa as bought buckwheat (15 percent), followed closely by chia (13 percent), emmer (11 percent), barley (11 percent) and teff (9 percent).
By contrast, the percentage of all US adults purchasing quinoa in the past 30 days really did lead relative to purchases of other ancient grains at 11 percent followed by buckwheat (9 percent), chia (8 percent), barley (8 percent) and emmer (6 percent).
Bottom line, where these younger consumers, age 18 to 39, really stand out is in terms of purchasing generally less familiar ancient grains, with about twice as many in percentage terms buying them as compared with all adults for emmer, teff, sorghum and einkorn and approaching this level for freekeh, kamut, farro and amaranth. This is good news for all ancient grains, including quinoa.