March/April 2021

New fruit, vegetable snack options emerge amid pandemic
By Melanie Epp, contributing writer

Driven in part by the global pandemic, as well as interest in adopting a more plant-based diet, new and creative fruit and vegetable products have gained ground. We’ve selected a variety of recently launched products that have piqued consumer curiosity.

Fruit and veggie jerky on trend

Each year, a Whole Foods trends council of more than 50 members compiles a report outlining food trend predictions. The 2021 report reveals the intriguing ways the food industry has responded to the pandemic.

“There have been radical shifts in consumer habits in 2020,” said Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, chief marketing officer at Whole Foods Market. “For example, shoppers have found new passions for cooking, they’ve purchased more items related to health and wellness, and more are eating breakfast at home every day compared to pre-COVID.”

One of Whole Foods predictions for 2021 was the rise of fruit and veggie jerky that include everything from jackfruit to mango to pineapple. In line with this trend, Giorgio Foods announced the release of two new flavors to their Savory Wild Portabella Mushroom Jerky lineup: Smokehouse Bacon and Hot & Spicy Cajun Style.

“Consumer interest and understanding around the culinary and nutritional benefits of mushrooms continue to grow and we are striving to bring new ways to consumer mushrooms to the marketplace,” said Brian Loiseau, SVP sales and product development for Giorgio Foods.

New snack line aimed at health conscious consumers

In recognizing the need for a cleaner, healthier snack, superfood breakfast and snack creator Earnest Eats launched a new avocado line. Made with real Hass avocados and spices, the Snacking Avocado line offers a crunchy treat packed with healthy monounsaturated fats. The avocados are seasoned by hand and flash freeze-dried to lock in flavor and nutrition. Earnest Eats kept the ingredient list simple, using just avocado, lime juice, and spices.

“With everyone in work-from-home mode, we made our new Snacking Avocado to be a Zoom call favorite without the guilt,” said Andrew Aussie, president and founder of Earnest Eats. “We were tired of seeing processed chips and other snacks with crazy long ingredient lists, and with Snacking Avocado, you can satisfy that savory craving, but feel great about what you’re eating.”

According to an EMR (Expert Market Research) report on the global vegan food market, the global vegan food market reached a value of about $15.4 billion in 2020. The market for vegan food is being driven by the rising awareness of the health benefits of these products, such as reducing the risk of heart diseases, cancer, and other diseases. The market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 9% in the forecast period of 2021-2026 to reach a value of approximately USD 26.1 billion by 2026.

Photo: Genuine Coconut

Another ready-to-eat brand, Genuine Coconut, launched a new snack product in the North American market. Fresh Organic Coconut Chunks comes in a resealable pouch with a transparent window. The product is certified organic, fair trade, and contains no preservatives or added sugars. Coconut Chunks are ideal for on-the-go-snacking, blending in smoothies or dips, or added to fruit salads. The product was launched alongside sister products Organic Coconut Toppings and Organic Grated Coconut.

“After watching the excitement surrounding our coconut water offerings and recognizing there was a clear gap in the coconut meat category for fresh, ready-to-eat options, we knew we wanted to create offerings that would fill that gap and align with our premium brand values of health and convenience,” said founder Carlos Amoros.

But it’s not just working adults who need healthy snack options. Two new products aimed at kids hope to increase consumption by making veggies fun… or by sneaking them into already-desirable products.

Photo: Calbee

Japanese snack brand Calbee, best known for its wide selection of potato chips and crackers, has been hosting an annual snack contest for the past 10 years. In 2019, the contest focused on healthy snacks using vegetable ingredients for which the company received 1,032 applications from Japanese schoolchildren. The company decided to commercialize the winning entry from the ninth competition in a very limited capacity — just 120 were available for purchase — in celebration of the contest’s tenth edition.  

Coro Coro Vegetable is a collection of cube-shaped snacks of different vegetable flavors — corn, carrot, sweet potato, edamame, purple potato and adzuki bean — stacked together in a larger cube.

Getting kids excited about vegetables can be a real challenge, which is why Jessica Levison, founder of Peekaboo, decided to try a different tactic.

Photo: Peekaboo

“In a desperate attempt to get my own kids to eat veggies and tired of looking for that rogue pea that rolled under the sofa, I wondered — could I make indulgent, organic ice cream that contained vitamins and minerals from organic vegetables — but tasted identical to my favorite ice cream brand?” she said.

The ice cream line contains such unique flavors as chocolate with hidden cauliflower, vanilla and zucchini, strawberry and carrots, and cotton candy with hidden beets.

Compared to other indulgent ice cream, such as Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s, Peekaboo says its products are lower in sugar and overall calories, plus higher in fiber, vitamins A and C, riboflavin and phosphorus.

These are just some of the latest fruit and vegetable products that deliver to the health-focused consumer and plant-based foods sector. Continued growth is projected for both sectors.

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