Green Light for Vegetables

20 Nov 2015

A key trend in healthy eating in recent years has been the move to increase the fruit and vegetable content of our diets, with a particular focus on children’s consumption levels. While increasing fruit consumption has been less of an issue and some initiatives have seen some success, efforts to increase vegetable consumption have not tended to fare so well. In response to this, cookbooks started to focus on ways to increase vegetable consumption in the diet, often by disguising it in some way in recipes for more popular options. This trend is also now being reflected in the packaged food market. Initiatives in recent years have mainly focused on getting more vegetables into our children’s diets, but there are now signs that this may be broadening out to focus on adults and the whole family.

Vegetables are beginning to appear in diverse products, particularly in the beverage aisle, where vegetable smoothies no longer seem to be products for the niche new-age consumer. In fact, the number of smoothies tracked with vegetables is growing significantly, with just 35 global launches recorded in the first half of 2011 and 170 tracked in the first half of 2015, following several years of strong growth. Innova Market Insights reported a +29% increase in vegetables in 2014 from 2013. The leading vegetables for 2014 were: carrot (37%), vegetables not specified (20%), tomato (17%), beetroot (12%), cucumber (7%), celery (6%) and kale (5%). Children can be very resistant to eating their veggies, and there is now a wide range of children’s meals featuring “hidden vegetables,” where they are pureed and blended with other ingredients, such that their use is not immediately obvious. Some of the smaller specialist baby and children’s food brands have been highly active in this area, including Annabel Karmel in a number of countries and Little Dish in the UK, which introduced a “hidden veg” tomato sauce containing vegetables. This has been sold on its own in a pot as well as used in selected recipes, most recently what is claimed to be the UK’s first “healthy” chilled pizza range aimed at toddlers.

Specialist children’s brand Kidfresh in the US has also adopted the concept for all its recipes, while mainstream frozen foods company Birds Eye launched its Lil Fishes Hoki & Hidden Veggies fish and vegetable nuggets in Australia in the spring of 2015, for example.


But moving away from the children’s market, Orkla of Denmark launched its Pastella Vegetable Pasta range of fresh pasta with a 40% vegetable content in the first half of 2015, featuring Carrot, Broccoli & Peas and Cauliflower options. Claimed as a category innovation, the three styles of pasta feature the taste and texture of standard fresh pasta, but with the high vegetable content. Pastella already claims market leadership in fresh pasta overall in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands and is clearly hoping to further develop its position with this concept.

While fresh pasta with a “hidden” vegetable content may be an innovation, a review of new product activity recorded by Innova Market Insights reveals that the dried pasta market has been seeing this type of launch for some years, led by the US, where ConAgra’s leading pasta brands, including Golden Grain, Mueller and Ronco all feature a range of Hidden Veggie options with the color, texture and taste of standard lines. Muellers, for example, has a range of spaghetti and pasta shapes with added vegetables such as carrots, sweetcorn and squash, making up one full serving of the daily requirement of vegetables per portion.
To accompany pasta, there has also been ongoing activity in hidden vegetables in pasta sauces, particularly using a tomato base with additional vegetables mixed in. In the UK, Mars’ Dolmio and Mizkan’s Ragu (formerly owned by Unilever) both have Smooth Hidden Vegetable options in their glass jars ranges, featuring at least one portion of the recommended 5-a-day in a smooth tomato-based sauce with added vegetables.

Ingredient suppliers have responded to the vegetable trend too and new solutions offer improved taste and quality benefits that should drive consumer acceptance. The industry has been looking for ways to increase vegetable consumption for years and we think we have reached a tipping point and we will start to see new a lot of innovation in this space. Consumers are looking for healthier options so the market is ripe with new opportunities.

Lu Ann Williams, Innova Market Insights

Related tags

Blogs New Functional Foods

Related news

Clean label comes ahead of brand

Clean label comes ahead of brand

17 Oct 2018

Consumers are now more interested in clean label ingredients instead of product descriptions or the brand name itself, when shopping for new foods and drinks, according to a new global survey – highlighting the ongoing importance of clean label product...

Read more 
Is algae oil about to go mainstream?

Is algae oil about to go mainstream?

11 Oct 2018

Algae oil boasts some impressive nutritional, environmental and functional benefits – and several companies appear to be on the verge of broadening its use. The question remains, will food manufacturers (and consumers) buy it?

Read more 
What does the future hold for sustainable palm oil?

What does the future hold for sustainable palm oil?

3 Oct 2018

PepsiCo has become the latest major company to cut ties with a palm oil supplier because of alleged unethical practices, adding to growing demand for more sustainable production. Can the palm oil industry deliver?

Read more 
Ingredient innovation could give iced coffee a healthy boost

Ingredient innovation could give iced coffee a healthy boost

3 Oct 2018

Iced coffee is the fastest growing segment of the coffee category, and there is huge potential for ingredients with added health benefits to further drive its growth.

Read more 
Creating better texture in dairy alternatives

Creating better texture in dairy alternatives

26 Sep 2018

The market for dairy alternatives continues to rise, but creating appealing, creamy textures that mimic traditional yoghurt or cheese can be a major stumbling block. For suppliers, this challenge has become fertile ground for innovation.

Read more 
Sustainable food is big business

Sustainable food is big business

26 Sep 2018

Sustainability in the food industry has become much more than a buzzword, as companies increasingly realise that it is vital to their long term profitability.

Read more 
Healthy aging: Spotlight on ingredients for joint health

Healthy aging: Spotlight on ingredients for joint health

19 Sep 2018

Glucosamine and chondroitin are commonly used ingredients for healthy joints, but with increased focus on improved mobility as the population ages, other innovative ingredients are gaining ground.

Read more 
Natural health trend boosts demand for botanical flavours

Natural health trend boosts demand for botanical flavours

19 Sep 2018

Herbs, spices and extracts are gaining in popularity as consumers look for natural, recognisable flavours in their foods and drinks.

Read more 
Artisanal trend fuels ingredient innovation

Artisanal trend fuels ingredient innovation

13 Sep 2018

Craft and artisanal food and drink launches have seen a global CAGR of 28% over the past five years, according to Innova Market Insights, and suppliers are responding with investment in authentic, clean label ingredients.

Read more 
Consumer concern over sugar hits new high

Consumer concern over sugar hits new high

6 Sep 2018

Sugar has replaced price as the top concern for UK consumers when buying food, according to a survey from the nation’s Food Standards Agency. Concern about sugar content is similarly high across Europe, so how should food and beverage companies respond...

Read more