Monday 25 March 2019

'It’s the single biggest trend coming through' - Irish eating habits are changing

Healthy Lifestyle. Stock photo
Healthy Lifestyle. Stock photo
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Irish eating habits are changing. Health food products are flooding the market as consumers are demanding a more health conscious offering.

Veganism is a growing trend in Ireland, and supermarkets are taking note.

“Vegan is a buzzword. There’s a great demand for it,” says Paddy Curran, Supervalu’s buyer for health and wellness.

“It’s something that we’re starting to introduce into our range. Upton’s Jackfruit, you can add it to tacos or whatever you want. It’s a product our local store in Ballincollig posted on Facebook and it got a reach of 10,000 people. It’s on trend, it’s what people want to talk about. That (veganism) is the biggest single trend coming through.”

“We also stock vegan confectionery like the ‘Vego’ bars. Our plant-based milk alternatives are popular like Alpro and Oatly foamable which is a new product we’ve introduced into our range.”

“Oat is the single biggest trend. Almond was the big leader but now people are taking oat into their diet. Almond was the first out there, but oat, the flavour is very appealing to consumers and it’s quite prevalently used with coffee and as a natural accompaniment to cereal and shakes.”

“Deliciously Ella - her granola’s aren’t made with honey."

Four in 10 people in Ireland are snacking more often and admit to snacking twice a day, according to recent research by Supervalu. Time-poor consumers effectively eat a healthy “fourth meal”, they've found.

“People are time poor, they don’t want to be shovelling products into them, so the idea of the fourth meal is quite critical.”

Earlier this year, Curran travelled to ExpoWest in California which attracts international buyers looking to source new brands.

“There’s a big cognisance of the back of the pack, the ingredient deck and what people are putting into their body.”

“'Free-from' continues to grow. Typically that’d be the majority of our health food sales – whether it’s gluten-free or free from sugar, whether it be sugar-free sweets.”

However, he admits: “Everyone’s jumping on the same trend as is natural for a lot of entrepreneurs out there. Naturally not everyone’s going to be a success, but good products are coming out, there’s one from Kerry called Origin, a natural very healthy sports and health bar.”

“Not everyone naturally is going to succeed, we try to keep a tighter number on offer, so people have clarity.”

However, Curran added: “There is an interest in the local mission, it’s part of the overall health and wellness piece, people want to have a good visibility and traceability, it’s part of an overarching awareness about their food.”

He added: “Without a doubt it’s just the media spotlight on our health. The government initiative with healthy Ireland and the prevalence of reports on obesity in Ireland and how we’re going to be the most obese country in Europe in the future.”

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