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Nutritional Benefits Driving Kale’s Global Appeal

DUIVEN, The Netherlands—Kale’s nutritional benefits and attractive colorful appearance are attracting a whole new range of consumers, boosted further by rising levels of usage as a vegetable accompaniment by celebrity chefs, according to new market data from Innova Market Insights. The use of kale in a wide range of packaged food and drinks products also has risen significantly in recent years, with the total number of global introductions more than tripling over the 5-year period ending 2012.

The United States has seen a particularly high level of activity, accounting for more than 60% of global 2012 introductions featuring kale recorded by Innova Market Insights, with activity across a wide range of product types, led by supplements, fruit and vegetable product, soft drinks and snacks.

Launches over the year varied from Pasta Prima’s Superfood Spinach and Kale Ravioli to Bex Brands’ Suja cold-pressed juice blends, where the Glow and Green Supreme variants both feature kale in combination with other ingredients. Even leading soup company Heinz got in on the act with its Mediterranean-style Parmesan, Kale and Seared Italian Sausage Soup introduced during the year.

Launch activity has continued in 2013 with Fresh & Easy’s Eatwell range extensions, including Kale Caesar Salad, Kale & Edamame Saute and Super Soup Mightily Green Vegetables (with kale, spinach, peas, green peppers and garlic).

According to Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, while a traditional vegetable of long standing in many parts of the world, including Europe, Africa and China, kale declined in popularity as a wider range of alternatives started to appear. “More recently rising interest in healthy eating and wintertime availability have regenerated interest in its use, supported by a growing presence on restaurant menus and ongoing promotional activity by TV chefs," she said.

The United Kingdom also has seen rising interest in the use of kale as a vegetable and an increase in household penetration and this has also been reflected in launch activity in prepared foods, particularly in seasonal launches in the soups sector. Chilled soups market leader New Covent Garden introduced its Winter Broth with Bacon & Curly Kale in early 2013, followed by free-from brand Soupologie’s inclusion of a Spinach & Kale with Roasted Garlic variant in its six-strong spring season range.

A more unusual application is kale chips, made with dried organic kale by Inspiral and now marketed under the Raw Kale Chips name in a range of savory flavors, including Wasabi Wheatgrass, Baobab & Onion and Cheesie Purple Corn, all made with fresh British kale rich in antioxidants, calcium and vitamin A. They were joined in 2013 by the first sweet variants, Cacao & Cinnamon and Raspberry Maca. Kale chips are also available in the United States from companies, such as Rhythm Superfoods, a natural foods brand specializing in raw, vegan and gluten-free foods.

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