Sharna Waid has been taking a look at how natural products retailers and brands are maximizing the crucial two-hour lunchtime selling period
Consumer awareness of healthy eating is informing more and more purchasing decisions every day. According to Mintel’s recent Global Food Trends report, predictions see vegetable-, nut-, seed- and plant-based products on the rise in 2017 – and the lunchtime market is no exception. A combination of factors
including increased awareness around free-from and vegan alternatives has helped to ignite a sector that used to be limited to uninspiring sandwiches and soggy pre-packed salads.
As even mainstream consumers shift towards healthier, better-for-you options, more retailers and leading brands are cashing in on the lunchtime trade with its fresh food-to-go offerings and healthy snack alternatives.
The UK’s appetite for food-to-go has never been bigger. Valued at more than £20 billion, such eye-watering numbers make it a hugely competitive marketplace. A recent survey by healthy snacks specialist Kallo Foods found that over 50% of consumers in the UK are eating packaged, healthier snacks, such as rice cakes, cereal bars and nuts at least once a day.
Beth Roxburgh, Kallø brand manager at Wessanen UK, comments: “It is encouraging to see that more and more consumers are moving away from unhealthy snacking choices and actively looking for foods and drinks that are a better for them, while still in a convenient packaged format.
“The findings of our latest survey show that there is a big opportunity for brands and retailers operating within the healthy snacking category. Healthy lifestyles are becoming increasingly sought-after, yet there is still plenty of scope to actively support consumers to adopt a better approach to food.”
It’s not so long ago that high-fat, high-sugar snacks were considered the only options for banishing afternoon cravings, but brands are now moving past the typical offerings and are championing more
diverse and sophisticated ranges – with natural and organic brands (and retailers) showing the way. Increasingly, innovative and healthier substitutes – like hummus chips, baked wholegrain snacks, vegetable crisps, seeds and nuts, raw kale chips and savoury seed cubes – are the new normal for the health-conscious snacker. Protein balls, fruit mixes and superfood bars are also favoured solutions for those in search of guilt-free snacking alternatives.
Healthy and functional
Partner and director of Eat Vive, Louis Bollard, says: “Natural alternatives have seen huge growth, and natural snacking has become a big thing, especially in the UK. However, most products focused on ‘healthy’, and not necessarily functional. And for us, there wasn’t a tasty, plant-based protein snack bar for the health-conscious, active customer – so that’s why we started Vive. We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive reception because we tick not only the natural box, but the functional one as well, which we anticipate will be the next big thing in snacking. This feedback has been particularly prevalent amongst the lunchtime market.”
Commenting on the market, Richard Lakeman, sales and marketing manager at natural snack start-up Born Tasty, says: “There is still a real and growing demand for innovation to deliver great-tasting, healthy and convenient snack options. These consumers are moving towards premium ways of snacking, basing their needs on quality, great taste and good value, rather than foods that just fill a gap.”
“Deciding on the first Born Tasty product was a bit of a no-brainer. The avocado’s status as a tasty, healthy superfood is celebrated over the world. Our Snackamolé Dip & Chip is an altogether easier way to eat avocado. Targeting the ‘eat on-the-go’ consumer we take naturally-grown whole fruit and lovingly mash it with nothing but a few ingredients. Using a very clever new pressure technology means you get not only that great avocado taste but a great shelf-life too,” adds Lakeman.
Shop with a view
Julie Goodwin, founder of Natural Health – which has award-winning stores in Hertford and Welwyn Garden City – tells NPN about her most popular snack offers.
“Our best-selling snacks are the Real Eat chips, which regularly sell out. Pulsin bars are selling through very well, and I think the new packaging is really helping. Hippeas, the organic chickpea snacks, are becoming a firm favourite too, probably due to the funky packaging as well as their flavours.
“There seem to be a lot of new products coming out at the moment, which is very exciting. Kookie Cat cookies are very popular as they are really tasty as well as being vegan and organic. On the drinks side, Kefir Zing and Captain Kombucha sell well, especially as there has been lots of positive press about fermented foods and kefir, plus they taste good.
“Customers are very conscious of clean eating and like the fact that we have many products which are free from artificial additives and flavourings, especially for those on very limited diets.
“In our Hertford branch, we have a therapy centre and have put all our goodies on view so that people can see them as they come out. We have daily tastings on products, which is a great way to get customers to try new things and experiment with what they like.”
The rise of the hybrid café/retailer
The rise in healthy eateries is inspiring more health stores to open up cafe´s and food-to-go counters. This hybrid café/retailer proposition is proving to be a popular way to scoop up the busy lunchtime trade.
Stores like Infinity Food, Better Food Company and Wealden Wholefoods serve popular organic home-cooked lunches, salads, organic juices, coffee and cake in a relaxed café setting – as well as providing a healthy food-to-go offer.
“Cafes act as a social lubricant,” says Phil Haughton, founder of Better Food Company. “Our latest store in the city has the biggest proportion of space – nearly 40% – given over to catering. In many ways catering is tougher than retail. But you have conversations in cafés you don’t have in shops. You engage with communities in ways that you can’t in shops.”
And once you start having those conversations you can start converting natural and organic dabblers into loyal customers who are buying into your store’s values.
Jan Copsey, founder of Wealden Wholefoods, says: “In our café we make two to three fresh soups every morning for the lunchtime trade, with fresh and organic seasonal ingredients. We also do a range of salad boxes, where the salads are made fresh on the day. Customers can choose to top them with hummus or have them with a home-made vegetarian scotch egg. It’s very simple, but that’s what sells.”
Commenting on the layout of the store and café, Copsey adds: “We have changed the layout of our shop by putting some of the products nearer to the café. These products include teas and coffees, nuts and seeds, and convenience foods. When people sit and have a coffee in the cafe, they often ask us what the brand of coffee is that they are having, so now we can point it out on the shelf ready to sell. They have to make the journey all the way back through the store to pay their bill – making it a visual journey into the café and back again. Siting the tea and coffee down that end has definitely worked for us.”
As well as nuts and seeds, Clearspring’s range of roasted soya seeds and Nakd’s fruit bars are also clear favourites for lunchtime snacking. “We’re in a small village and we are constantly challenged by supermarkets – but challenge is good. If we sell more diverse products, then there’s a better reason to come into our stores,” Copsey adds.
Healthy Lunch and Snacks Products
AQUA Carpatica Natural Mineral Water
Striving together for the natural way of healthy living. Nature’s most perfect mineral water dedicated to the most demanding health conscious people, babies and pregnant women organic food lovers and those with active lifestyles.
The first of its kind in the UK, it is naturally Nitrate-free and has the lowest Sodium level of any bottled natural mineral water on Earth, to meet UK demand for bottled water with both strong health benefits and an exquisite crisp, refreshing taste. A premium quality natural mineral water, sourced from the earth. Not man-made, purified, or enhanced, just as nature intended.
Tideford Organics Tomato + Basil Soup with Red Peppers + Miso
Tideford Organics know it can be hard to find uncompromisingly tasty, healthy lunches, which is why they’ve developed the first organic FODMAP accredited soup in the UK. Packed with Vitamin C, their Tomato + Basil Soup with Red Peppers + Miso is a delicious combination of Italian tomatoes and red peppers with a dash of indulgent coconut cream, and is FODMAP friendly. FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates poorly absorbed by the small intestine, and a low-FODMAP diet can help ease IBS symptoms. Like the rest of Tideford’s range, it’s organic, vegan and gluten-free, making it a great soup for everyone.
Profusion Organic Super Popcorn
Melt in the mouth, light and crispy organic wholegrain butterfly popcorn seasoned to perfection. Available in two delicious varieties; Sweet & Salty Maca for the perfect balance of sweet maca and pink Himalayan salt, or Turmeric Cinnamon Spice for a warming blend of spicy cinnamon and golden turmeric. Our naturally gluten free popcorn is hand-popped and tossed in coconut oil, sprinkled with superfoods and lightly sweetened with maple syrup – no artificial colours or flavours are used.
Bio-tiful Dairy is the UK’s leading Kefir brand, a delicious cultured milk drink naturally packed with essential vitamins, minerals and billions of gut-friendly bacteria. We follow an authentic 2,000 year old recipe originating from the Caucasus mountains. Kefir has an unparalleled list of health benefits including supporting digestion, immunity and boosting energy levels. Made from the highest quality British milk and live kefir cultures, our range includes Kefir, Baked Milk Kefir and a selection of highly nutritious Kefir Smoothies including our NEW zingy and refreshing Strawberry & Grapefruit Kefir Smoothie and elegant and luscious Raspberry Kefir Smoothie.
Bounce is opening up its smart snacking approach to more people than ever before with V-Life, a range of high protein, great tasting, vegan friendly flavours. The new balls are packed with a mix of top quality nutrients, delivering energy and protein in perfect balance – making it easier than ever to snack smarter and sustain a busy lifestyle. Flavours include Coconut Cumin, Beetroot Cashew and Almond Kale and are available at available at independent stores as well as Whole Foods Market and Holland & Barrett. RRP between £1.79 and £1.99 per 40g.
Planet Organic Rawkin’Roons (33g)
Planet Organic is expanding their popular Rawkin’Roon range to include a single-serving snack pack in four mouth-watering flavours – Chocolate Chip, Salted Caramel, Chocolate and Lemon. Packed with raw goodness, these melt-in-the-mouth coconut macaroons are filled with dietary fibre and nutritious fats which are easily digested, boost metabolism and provide a perfect slow-burning fuel. Rawkin’Roons are sweetened with low-GI coconut sugar which means that energy is released slowly and helps prevent blood sugar levels from spiking. Their compact size makes these snack packs a perfect addition to lunch boxes, travel snacks and to keep in your bag for when hunger strikes! RRP £1.99
Our NEW Porridge Bars are designed to blend the health benefits of porridge with the convenience of a bar. With no need for a spoon, hot water or a pan they are the perfect on-the-go breakfast choice. We have crafted our Porridge Bar range with 100% natural ingredients such as gluten free oats, whole seeds and real fruit to give you a sustained energy release throughout the day. Plus, with 30% less sugar and double the fibre of other oat bars, you can breakfast safe in the knowledge that you aren’t compromising on taste or health benefits.
Perfect for a sweet treat, or to add to cereal or porridge – our prepacked fruit range is a key store cupboard staple for any kitchen. From mango to Incan berries, cranberries to blueberries, there’s something for everyone. Packed in the UK and available from 125g up to 10kg (in most lines). Great for snacking when looking for something natural, or ideal for a adding to recipes.
Organic Food Bar Active Greens Chocolate Covered
Organic Food Bar Active Greens contains 11g of raw organic protein, including 4000mg of an exclusive green superfood blend with spirulina, wheat and barley grass, and blueberry and raspberry. There’s also 7g of fibre per bar, which is 28% of the recommended daily intake for adults. New to the Active Greens range are: Chocolate Covered +Protein; with a whopping 15g of protein per bar, and Chocolate Covered +Probiotic; covered in a thick coating of organic non-dairy Belgium chocolate. The planet’s best green superfoods elevated to gourmet dessert standards. Perfected for your customer’s discerning palate. Raw, vegan and gluten free.
A delicious superfood snack brought to you by the leading Coconut Oil brand, Nutiva. O’Coconut snacks are the perfect delicious anytime treat, sweet but healthy. Crafted from lightly sweetened organic coconut flakes, each treat contains 1.5 teaspoons of coconut oil. Two flavours are available: O’Coconut Classic for a pure coconut flavour, or O’Coconut Hemp & Chia for a nutty taste and Omega-3 benefits. Each variety comes in its own display caddy with 24 individually wrapped treats per box. Non-GMO, Fair Trade, no corn, soy or cane sugar, and only 60 calories per serving.
Panda Liquorice Cuts
Best-selling Panda original liquorice cuts are the perfect healthy on the go snack for everyone – kids and adults alike. Available in 240g resealable bags these beauties won’t last long as it is simply the most addictive and prestigious liquorice around. Panda Liquorice has been on sale in the UK for 36 years and the liquorice itself has been in production in Finland since 1927 at a factory steeped in liquorice tradition and heritage. The range is made with all natural ingredients and is a big favourite with vegetarians, vegans and slimmer’s in the UK.