Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a superfood! Jane Wolfe looks at how the indies are dealing with this soaring sector

No longer considered a passing fad for the super-health conscious, superfoods have penetrated the mainstream as consumers seek to maximize nutritional benefits per calorie. However, the term itself is so randomly bandied about, there is a danger that consumers will question these foods’ credibility.

Alan Martin, director of Food For Thought and BonPom, doesn’t think the term is helpful: “It’s overused and has become meaningless – it’s just a marketing term now and has devalued the great foods that we do have. We prefer the term superhero foods because a lot of them have attributes like a superhero.”

And as much as the media has driven recognition of various superfoods, too much press attention has come at a price. “I think this overuse has played right into the media’s hands and you end up with scare stories. It makes our job more difficult but also makes us have to be more credible and have the facts and figures. We provide newsletters about each superhero food we sell, debunking the myths, and showing people how to integrate them into their diets – we’re not just treating them as supplements, but as foods. It’s not good enough just to say moringa is a ‘miracle tree’ anymore, you have to really back it up.”

Matt Woodhead, manager of Good and Green in East Grinstead, believes you need to pick and choose when deciding what to stock. “I don’t want to completely submerge people with lots of products that they won’t have a clue about. I do have a whole section of superfoods but we make sure that what we put on shelf we support with informative literature.

Untapped potential

Even though superfoods are trickling into the mainstream, it’s indie health stores that
are the obvious fit for this
category, right? Well …

“There are very few independent health food stores that are switched on to the fact that this category is still growing almost exponentially,” says Martin. “There is definitely a divide in the independents between those who absolutely get it and those who don’t.”

So will this failure by some indies to tap into the sector give the supermarkets a chance to step in? “As with all categories that really belong in the health store world, supermarkets just tinker around the edges, so I don’t think so,” says Martin. “They’re a good five or six years behind us – they’re taking on goji berries and chia seeds which have already made the leap from being specialist health food items. But I don’t think you’d necessarily go into Tesco and find lucuma, maca or raw organic cacao powder. This still leaves a huge untapped potential for the majority of the independents.”

“Superfoods and raw chocolate are brilliant categories to be in right now. Our wholesale revenues have more than doubled from 2014 to 2015,” says Mark Long, business development manager of Superfoodies. “Is this indicative of the market as a whole?  We do see attractive displays in the stores, and our retailers tell us that TV exposure and increased public awareness have helped to grow sales of superfoods. Promotion of linked products like the Nutribullet also enable people to become superfood consumers overnight and helps drive sales.”

Get switched on

Martin sees superfoods as providing a big opportunity to attract a younger demographic. “Definitely it’s a younger person’s category; they’re much more amenable to trying superhero foods, and this is good for the industry. When you start selling these foods it brings in a new category of people.
Having a good display of superhero foods starts to change who comes into your shop.”

He advises health stores who haven’t yet got into the superfood groove not to let the opportunity slip by. “It’s a good idea in the first instance to create a category. Devote an end gondola and pool all your products, then label it superfoods and you have a point of discussion. When you’ve got a section it’s an ice breaker, you can be standing in front of it sampling. It’s just a matter of getting behind it – it’s a really exciting category still and has a lot of room for growth.”

It is also helpful that superfoods are so easy to incorporate into consumers’ diets. “I’m a big proponent of superfoods and I feel they are the easiest way for people to get healthy,” says Kate Magic, co-founder of Raw Living. “That’s why I love them – you don’t need to change your diet, you can just add spirulina or maca or whatever it is into what you’re already eating -–porridge or muesli or smoothies – and you’re going to get the benefit straight away.”

However, consumers new to the category may need a little help. Recent research by Of the Earth Superfoods found that health store customers want more information about specific superfoods and their usage on pack. “Educating customers is important, especially in this saturated market where there is confusing information,” says Teresa Bartaseviciute, marketing manager at Alara Wholefoods.

With this in mind, Of the Earth Superfoods has rebranded with a clear message on front of packs indicating what effect to expect, and a short product history on the back.

Flavours of the month

Current hot ingredients include the tropical fruit lucuma from Peru. With a caramel sweetness, this ingredient marries well with chocolate, as can be seen in Doisy & Dam’s Coconut & Lucuma bar and The Raw Chocolate Company’s Vanofee bar.

Also from Peru is purple corn, a heritage vegetable rich in anthocyanins. Used locally in drinks but outside Peru mainly in snack foods, such as inSpiral’s Purple Corn Kale Chips, this remains a niche ingredient.

The superfood sector fits into the health store environment so well as it spans a number of sub-sectors including free-from, raw and most recently sirt foods. “Everyone’s talking about sirt foods,” says Martin. “Interestingly one of the major sirt foods is raw organic cacao powder, which is our number one bestseller.”

Aduna’s recently introduced Super-Cacao powder has the distinction of being the first cacao powder with an EU-approved heart health claim.

As far as best sellers go, Woodhead cites snacks such as goji berries, coconut barley grass bars, goji pumpkin seeds and cacao Brazil nuts. Martin is seeing a big resurgence in sales of maca, and lucuma, inca berries, goji berries, mulberries, chia seeds are all in his top ten.

With so many players in the superfood sector, manufacturers need to make sure their offers develop and remain vibrant. “We are continually looking to bring new superfoods to the market and use social media, events and in-store activities to highlight lesser known products to our consumers,” says Long. “We have been working to raise the profile of maqui berry powder and ashwagandha powder.  We have also been developing new added-value products. For us, superfood breakfast products are a real focus, and we are looking to build our reputation in this area.”

Using superfoods as ingredients within products is a continuing feature of the category. “BonPom has just had the first samples of a spread combining our raw cacao powder with a premium British raw sunflower honey and cacao nibs,” says Martin. “I think that’s where the category is headed, with products that are very similar to mainstream ones people recognize, but that have integrity and are healthy.”


An ocean of goodness

Every month or so there’s a new superfood ‘trend’ touted in the media, and now, it seems, is the turn of seaweed (the ‘new kale’), whether it be nori, kelp, dulse, arame, wakame or kombu.

Margreet Westerhuis, UK marketing manager for Clearspring, has seen a clear growth in demand: “Even though Clearspring has been selling sea vegetables for over 20 years, the last 18 months have seen these product gaining in popularity as awareness of their nutritional characteristics have become more well known and as they are being featured more in the media and in recipes.”

She believes that sea vegetables will have an important role in the future because seaweed, which requires neither fresh water nor fertilizer, is one of the world’s most sustainable and nutritious crops. “It absorbs dissolved nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon dioxide directly from the sea – its footprint is negative – and proliferates at a terrific rate. These characteristics will be increasing in importance as we struggle to feed the world.”

In February as part of its updated standards the Soil Association created dedicated standards for the production and collection of organic seaweed, which may now display the Soil Association symbol.  “I think you will start to see more and more organically-certified sea vegetables in the future,” says Westerhuis. “I think sea veg will also start to feature more prominently in new flavour combinations and will finally become a recognized mainstream product.”


Instore inspiration

Recipe cards are an effective way to show your customers how to easily incorporate superfoods into their diets – and cooking demos are even better.

To give consumers some fresh ideas, ‘The Medicinal Chef’ Dale Pinnock has teamed up with BetterYou to produce a recipe booklet containing 14 recipes incorporating the company’s recently repackaged TotalNutrition superfood powder.

BonPom is attempting to engage stores who may have dismissed the whole superhero category by offering kits each month so that retailers can easily create their own in-store samples using the brand’s superfood range to promote its special offers. The kits come with pre-measured ingredients, silicone moulds, and instructions, along with recipe postcards to give out to customers.

And if you’re customers are wondering how to incorporate seaweed into their diet, sustainable seafood expert and chef Barton Seaver’s new book Superfood Seagreens offers 75 recipes along with tips on buying, storing and cooking these nutrient-packed plants.


IswariBuddha’s Awakening

Tel: +353(0)214773990
E-mail: [email protected]

Iswari is proud to present its Buddha’s Awakening instant breakfast range. Each nutrient rich, raw superfood breakfast combines omega-packed milled chia & flax seeds, with ground almonds, buckwheat, fruit powders and superfoods. They are rich in protein, easily digested, gluten-free and 100% organic! Furthermore, each mix can be made in minutes, just by adding hot or cold water. Enlighten your morning with our Classic or Tropical breakfast flavours!  Available in 6 flavours:  “Chocolate Hit”, “Maca & Vanilla”, “Hempiness”, “Açaí/Banana/Strawberry”, “Mango & Baobab”, and “Pineapple & Wheatgrass”. Available at Planet Organic or ask at your local store.


Kinetic---Amazing-Grass---SuperfoodAmazing Grass Raw Reserve

Kinetic Natural Products Distributor,
Tel: 08450 725 825
E-mail:  [email protected]

Amazing Grass Raw Reserve is a blend of AFA’s (E3Live – fresh blue green algae), spirulina, chlorella, and sea vegetables from the coast of Maine, like kelp and sea lettuce, combined with nutrient-dense cereal grasses, with the addition of 25 billion probiotics per serving at time of consumption, a digestive enzyme complex blend, organic maca, burdock root, ginger, aloe vera, cayenne, organic flax and chia seed. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and phyto-nutrients, all of which assist the body in maintaining healthy organ function, detoxification and immunity. Raw, vegan, GMO- and gluten- free.


Kinetic---Nutiva---SuperfoodNutiva Coconut Manna

Kinetic Natural Products Distributor
Tel: 08450 725 825
E-mail: [email protected]

Nutiva Coconut Manna is delicious puréed coconut butter, so called because if ever there was a food from heaven, this is it. An ideal “everything” spread that can replace cream, cream cheese and butter in baking, use 1:1 in replacement. An incredibly tasty, whole superfood made of pure, dried coconut flesh; that brings a naturally sweet coconut-ty flavour to baked goods, and a deliciously buttery texture to cookies and biscuits. Coconut contains lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid also found in human breast milk. Nutiva coconut products come from Southeast Asia, where the coconut oil is processed immediately upon harvesting. The creamy, white meat of the coconut is scooped out of the shell by hand. What you get is simply the creamy, fresh flavour of pure coconut.


NaturaNaturya Superfood Range

Tel: 01225 830838
E-mail:  [email protected]

Naturya are delighted once again to be showcasing their range of beautifully packaged superfoods at the Natural and Organic Products Show 2016. New this year are smaller pack sizes which are already selling well in Waitrose, and a range of exciting and truly delicious breakfast toppings which are creating a lot of interest in the health sector.  Naturya products are nature’s most amazing foods. The company’s insistence on selling only the highest quality, fully tested and approved product is chiming well with consumers, who are supercharging their meals with a sprinkle of Naturya superfoods.


Natures-AidNatures Aid Organic Superfood Powders

Natures Aid
Tel: 01772 686231
E-mail: [email protected] 

Natures Aid have launched a new range of Organic Superfoods.  The range  of Organic powders consists of Acai Berry, Barley Grass, Maca,  Moringa,  Spirulina, Wheatgrass and an Ultimate Superfoods powder which  contains  31 Organic Superfoods and Enzymes.  Certified by the Soil Association and suitable for vegans, the Natures Aid Organic Superfood range packing full of goodness and tasty flavours.  They have been designed to fit into today’s hectic lifestyle as they can be easily added to shakes, smoothies, yoghurt and other foods to give a daily nutritional boost.


SavantNew Formula! Udo’s Choice Beyond Greens

Savant Distribution Ltd
Tel:  08450 606070
E-mail:  [email protected]

The new formula of Beyond Greens is a blend of certified organic greens, which includes fermented grasses, green vegetables, superfood algae and seaweeds; including spirulina and chlorella. Digestive herbs such as ginger root, cinnamon bark and licorice root have been added, as well as fibre from flax, sunflower and sesame seeds. The grasses (barley, oat, wheat and alfalfa) have been fermented with Lactobacillus plantarum and Saccharomyces boulardii; this fermentation process is like pre-digestion along with nutrient enhancement and shelf-life preservation. The good bacteria help break down the fibrous cell walls of greens and vegetables leading to less chance of indigestion, gas and bloating.


SumaSuma Quinoa Flakes (organic) 500g

Suma Wholefoods,
Tel: 01422 313840
E-mail:  [email protected]

Quinoa flakes are a great, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan way to get superfoods into your diet; making them a tasty alternative to porridge at breakfast. Used as a base, the opportunity are endless to add further superfoods to kick start your day and give you the energy needed. Low in calories, fat content and cholesterol free, this ancient grain can also be used instead of flour within baking things such as bread.


TianaTIANA Multi-Award Winning Organic Raw Coconut Goodness

TIANA Fair Trade Organics
Tel: 0208427 1695
E-mail:  [email protected]

TIANA Multi-Award Winning Organic Raw Coconut Goodness    – This pure unsweetened coconut flesh contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals, protein, dietary fibre and Lauric acid. It has medium chain fatty acids and is a good source of energy. With no additives or preservatives this is only pure unadulterated coconut. With a creamy consistency and delicious heavenly taste this unique goodness is produced using the latest cold pressing technology below 40°C, it is 100% raw and highly nutritious. Perfect for desserts, baking, porridge, smoothies, stews, and curries or eaten straight from the jar! It can even be diluted with water to make raw coconut milk or cream. Available from Premium retailers and all good independent health stores. For further information call TIANA Fair Trade Organics on 0208 4271695 or visit


WindmillProfusion Organic Super Nut Butters

Tel: 0208 547 2775
E-mail: [email protected]

Profusion Organic Maca Almond Tigernut Butter combines the delicious nutty flavour of almonds with the nutritional benefits of superfood maca and sweet tigernuts. Profusion Organic Cacao Nib Cashew Sunflower Butter is made from creamy cashew nuts with the added power of sunflower seeds and high antioxidant cacao nibs for a subtle chocolate flavour. Providing a good source of protein, fibre and vitamins these nut butter infusions are gluten free, palm fat free and suitable for vegans. Perfect as a spread, in baking or as an addition to smoothies and shakes.


Alara-(2)Of The Earth Superfoods

Of The Earth Superfoods
+4420 7387 9303
E-mail:  [email protected]

Of The Earth Superfoods has had a makeover, with a new logo, and packaging aimed at educating consumers on releasing the magic from within and getting a long lasting energy to be fit and happy. The packaging now provides clear explanations on how to use each product, as well unambiguous details of their benefits. They believe this will provide consumers with a clear brand message based upon enhancing health and well-being.

Of The Earth Superfoods Marketing Manager Teresa Bartaseviciute comments “We believe that the new branding will reduce the confusion about how to use superfood products and will show our vision of the brand better.”

Only using the best Organic natural foods Of The Earth Superfoods knows how to provide good products that people enjoy. As experts in the Superfood Industry with more than 10 years experience, Of The Earth Superfoods is able to source organic natural products of the highest quality, as evidence by their award winning products, such as their Acerola Cherry Powder.

With a direct agent in Peru they ensure they are able to get the best quality of Organic produce for the best value. As a result Of The Earth Superfoods is proud to announce a permanent and dramatic price decrease, as they believe any price decreases they achieve should be passed on to their customers. As well as focusing on value for money they strive to make their products space efficient. With easy to stack jars it is easy to present a larger number of products than many of their competitors.

Of The Earth Superfoods is all about providing people with energy for life, whilst not forgetting the world that gives us life. With this is mind they focus heavily on sustainability and use a factory powered by solar energy.

About the Author

Jane Wolfe

Deputy Editor
Natural Products News deputy editor Jane Wolfe re-joined NPN in 2013 having previously worked for the magazine as a sub and freelance journalist from its Steyning beginnings.

Articles by Jane Wolfe
Jane Wolfe
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