With the rise of obesity and other chronic disease, where processed foods, pesticides and artificial fertilizers play a role, consumers are favouring simple ingredients, natural products and nutritious and tasty whole foods. In this scenario, the gluten free trend shows no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, the trend is expanding as gluten free products are increasing popularity when there is sensitivity to other common food allergens such as soy, dairy and corn. Quinoa is a gluten free grain that does not belong to the leafy grain grass family like wheat, corn, barley, oats and other cereals. Quinoa is a complete and versatile food that perfectly suits the desire for a gluten-free cereal, a great meat alternative for those following a vegetarian diet, and an ingredient that adapts to different cuisines.
The Non-GMO movement is also prevalent. Quinoa has not been subject to GMO production like corn and soy. As demand grows expect to see an increasing number of products labelled GMO free, an opportunity for quinoa based lines. The NON GMO Project has been instrumental in spreading awareness about the dangers of genetically modified ingredients and has provided the natural products industry with a valuable resource in its certification program.
Third Party Certification is also on the rise and vital for the continued growth and success of gluten free, allergen free and GMO free products, particularly because of the problems cross contamination may cause for consumers and manufacturers.
Consumers demand transparency in the food they eat. Brands and products that offer substantiated information pertaining to their quality and sourcing of ingredients are resonating with today’s natural products shopper. Moreover, products with multiple certifications validating their natural and/or environmental claims stand apart from the more conventional ‘green-washers’. Products with Fair Trade, non-GMO and/or Whole Grain certifications saw sales rise by over $300M when compared to the previous year’s sales in one study, according to SPINS, a US-based market research and consulting firm for the natural products industry.
Super Grains and super foods continue to be in strong demand. Quinoa already has a presence in natural food stores as a grain in white, red and black eco-types. Some brands have introduced quinoa flour, flakes and puffs and more elaborated foods such as pasta, soups, breads, desserts energy bars and cookies will follow. As large retail chains such as Costco and Walmart introduce quinoa, it will be widely available to more mainstream consumers. One of the major benefits of quinoa is that it contains all 9 amino acids and provides a good vegetarian/vegan source of protein.