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.
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.