“As a result of consumer demand, Australian retailer Coles launched 83% more vegetable items in 2017 than they did in 2015, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD),” Kathleen Kennedy, global food and drink analyst, Mintel, told FoodNavigator-Asia.
These include Coles’ fresh vegetable blends such as Supreme Vegetable Mix, Asparagus & Green Bean Sauté, Carrot & Pumpkin Noodles, Australian Broccoli Cauliflower Rice, and Stir Fry Vegetables.
These products and their packaging are visually interesting, and feature on-pack cooking suggestions which are especially helpful to consumers who are struggling to incorporate more vegetables into their diets.
Coles Australian Superfood Vegetable Mix’s front of pack features ‘Use me five ways’ instructions. It also highlights that the product is a good source of vitamin C and fibre. Coles Australian Roasting Cauliflower Mix also comes with cooking tips printed on the pack.
Kennedy said Coles has gone so far as to feature cooking instructions with vegetables on its YouTube page.
The supermarket giant has also stated in its corporate plans that it wants to be the first choice for fresh produce.
Mintel also said, among its six key 2017 Food & Drink Trends, consumers around the globe are seeking more plant-based ingredients in products.
The preference for natural, simple and flexible diets were said to be driving further expansion of vegetarian, vegan and other plant-focused formulations.
In 2017, the food and drink industry welcomed more products that emphasised plants as key ingredients. More packaged products and recipes for home cooking leveraged fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, botanicals and other plants to align with consumers’ health and wellness priorities.
Kennedy also shared that the high number of vegetarian and vegan meal kits in the marketplace was another indicator of the growing trend.
“With consumers frequenting the perimeter of the grocery store, expect more in-store meal kits which could include vegetarian entrees and vegetable side dishes,” she said.
She added that plant-based protein, in the form of faux meat and seafood, was just starting to take hold and it is a trend being closely watched by Mintel.
“More than just vegetarians and vegans are at least occasionally eating meat-free, and this new group is considered flexitarians,” she said.
“Lastly, frozen vegetables could be ripe for disruption, especially if Millennials get on board with how the nutrition is locked in during the freezing process.”
How brands can help consumers
Kennedy stated that brands could offer solutions to help consumers establish good dietary habits.
According to Mintel research, as many as three in four urban Australians rank ‘eating a balanced diet’ as the most important factor for a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, 54% of Australians said that they planned to eat more fruits and vegetables in 2017.
She said there is also opportunity to launch other product lines, apps, and reward programmes that can keep consumers motivated and help them achieve their health and wellness goals.
New ‘fresh’ snacking trend
Separately, Mintel also said that ‘fresh’ snacking is growing.
Consumers are looking for more snacks that are clean label, free of additives/preservatives, and as either refrigerated products or those found in the produce section.
Mintel said data from SPINS indicated that the $40 billion conventional snacking market declined 2% annually over the past three years, while “health and wellness” snacking grew 6% annually, with fresh snacking growing 8% annually.
Popular items include refrigerated protein bars, protein snack packs, drinkable soups, bottled smoothies, yoghurts, hummus and guacamole.
David Lockwood, founder of Mintel, said fresh snacking in grocery stores paralleled the rise of e-commerce, representing the growth of a ‘fresh’ niche in bricks and mortar retail — one that the online channel does not currently serve particularly well, due to shipping and cold chain challenges.
“We anticipate that ‘fresh’ categories will be a bright spot for bricks and mortar retail as e-commerce continues to erode core-shelf stable categories for grocery retail,” he said.