Basic store cupboard ingredients are still money-spinners in the natural food world. Holly Bourne peers inside the larder to see what products are flying off shop shelves and onto home ones.
They may live in the dark – relegated to the back of the cupboard, or languishing in unglamorous drawers, but ‘boring’ basic ingredients maketh the meal. And retailers will tell you that it’s actually these smaller purchases that can convert tentative new customers into loyal ones.
“It’s all about simple lifestyle changes, that’s what we try and tell new customers,” says Anita Hatch, director at Nature’s Corner. “People have busy lives but want to eat better, so we encourage them to make simple swaps. So, if they love carbs, they can swap standard pasta for rice or bean pasta. Store cupboard products really are a great place for people to start.”
Stack them high!
Even if you’re fed up of constantly hearing about coconut oil, it is still the reigning monarch in the larder. For many health food retailers its popularity continues to surge upwards, especially as jars are getting bigger and prices more accessible. “People are still jumping onto that band wagon and it’s still our biggest promo every year,” says Hatch. “We put it on offer, stack it high in our front window, and it all always sells without fail.”
But for anyone looking for the next dominating product, Zofia Giles, manager at Food for Thought, Kingston, tips that apple cider vinegar could soon take coconut’s crown. “We’re selling a lot of this and people are increasingly interested in it,” she says. “It’s similar to coconut oil in that it has so many purposes – you can put it salads, drink it, gargle with it, it can whiten your teeth. You can even use it to clean wood work!”
A trend in pasta made from pulses is something many retailers are noticing too. “That’s really taken off for us,” says Sally Marshall, groceries manager at Wild Oats. She says the Castagno range of alternative pastas does particularly well. Giles says Profusion’s Chickpea and Lentil Pasta is doing well for them. “People like that you get protein from it as well as carbohydrates; we’re really noticing an increase.”
Easy does it
Being able to fling open the shelf doors and whip up an easy breakfast is also something customers are looking for. “People are getting clued up about the amount of sugar in breakfast cereals,” says Hatch. “But they still want the convenience of a cereal. Buckwheat and quinoa cereal is doing really well for us.” She’s noticed the Planet Organic range is very popular, alongside Nature’s Plus.
And people are still buying up anything they can throw into a Nutribullet for an easy and healthy liquid breakfast – from turmeric, to cinnamon and matcha powder. “Anything for morning smoothies does well,” says Marshall.
One seriously on-trend product is black beans, which have been made popular by best-selling author and blogger Deliciously Ella. She includes them in many of her recipes, causing a surge in demand. “You couldn’t really get them a year or two ago, but now they’re very popular,” says Marshall.
Right on the honey
And sourcing from local companies is something customers are increasingly asking about.
“We’ve always done well with local honey,” explains Hatch. “But people are very keen to support local products in other parts of the shop too.” And, though local is an emerging trend, ‘organic’ doesn’t seem to be something at the front of customers’ minds. “It’s an added bonus,” Hatch explains. “All our grains are organic, like Infinity Foods, but this is not usually the most important thing to a customer when they’re buying basics.”
For something sweet to finish on, free-from bak-ing mixes are being increasingly snatched up by aspiring bakers. “Sukrin bread and cake mixes always do really well for us,” says Giles. “They’re free-from basically everything, and customers find them useful to have in their cupboards.”
A dash of flavour
Vegan and gluten-free, Marigold Engevita Nutritional Yeast Flakes are perfect for anything that needs an extra whack of flavour. The nutty/cheesy flavour works well with stews or even sprinkled on breakfast cereal.
Anyone for tea?
Every retailer told us that turmeric is still the spice everyone’s interested in. Pukka Turmeric Gold Teabags are a much simpler proposition than making your own turmeric latte from scratch. They also don’t have the ‘dusty aftertaste’ of some home-brewed efforts.
Hasta la pasta
Explore Asian Black Bean Pasta expertly combines the current black bean trend with the fashion for no-wheat pasta. Also keep an eye out for the Edamame & Mung Bean Fettuccine.
Souped up with Geo Organics
Name checked by Food for Thought’s Zofia Giles for being “really, really, really nice” and very popular with customers during the winter months, Geo Organics’ Tomato with Goji Berry & Seeds Soup includes pumpkin, poppy and linseeds – making it a healthy, but easy, lunch option.
Beans means Hodmedod
Hodmedod’s Baked British Beans are the beans for the Brexit era. The fava beans in this cupboard staple have been grown solely in the UK since the Iron Age. Quite an achievement for the humble meal of beans on toast.
Store Cupboard Products
Organic Tofu & Tamari
The Clearspring organic store cupboard staples are tofu and tamari which complement each other perfectly. Both are made from organic soya but each undergoes very different traditional processes to make these iconic Japanese specialities. The rich, full bodied award winning tamari is slowly aged in cedarwood kegs for two summers while the protein rich tofu is made by simply curdling warm soya milk with nigari. The smooth, silky soft almost creamy tofu marries perfectly with the umami rich, salty, dark tamari: a match made in heaven.
Cocofina Detox Supplement
Cocofina’s Coco Detox is your best ally to detoxify your body! This food supplement only contains the best ingredients for a daily detox regime, namely organic coconut oil and chlorella. Chlorella is a single celled green micro-algae naturally containing chlorophyll, the phyto-nutrients in plants that capture the sun’s rays. It is a natural source of protein as well as an essential nutrient to support health and wellness and promotes body detoxification by beneficially affecting the function of the liver. Combining this gift from nature with organic coconut oil enabled us to create detoxifying capsules for your health regime! Chlorella and 100% organic, cold pressed virgin coconut oil. Take two capsules of Coco Detox per day with a full glass of water after food to detoxify your body.
Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Nutiva’s certified Organic and non-GMO Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil is light in taste with a pleasant aroma and pure white colour; a world away from industrialized coconut oil. It’s cold-pressed from fresh coconuts, not dried copra, unrefined, chemical-free, unfermented, unbleached, non-deodorized, unhydrogenated, no solvents and made with Nutiva’s Fresh Is Best™ commitment. Virgin coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides and essential fatty acids, the “good fats” that doctors recommend, is cholesterol – and trans-fat-free, . Nutiva give 1% of all sales back to sustainable agriculture; to programs that support the advancement of healthy communities and ecologically sustainable agriculture.
Coco Zumi – Organic Fair Trade 100% Pure Coconut Water & Oil
Coco Zumi recently launched their 1 Litre Organic Fair Trade coconut water option. This is totally pure, with no added sugar, no preservatives and not from concentrate. The coconuts are ethically and sustainably sourced from a natural agroforestry environment in the Philippines. As part of their Fair Trade work, Zumi contributes towards fresh water well development, tree re-planting and educational support. (1 Litre available from Marigold and Infinity Wholesale) Coco Zumi’s Extra Virgin Organic Fair Trade coconut oil is light and mellow in taste. Apart from jars, the range includes 15ml coconut oil squeeze pack sachets. The Soil Association organic symbol features on all products.