The so-called pegan diet is attracting increased attention from health-conscious consumers in the Western world, notably in the US, Australia, and the UK.
Coined by Dr Mark Hyman in 2015, the diet aims to find the ‘right balance’ between two popular eating trends: veganism and paleo.
Veganism refers to a 100% plant-based diet. Vegans avoid consuming all animal foods, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey. Beyond the nutritional elements of the diet, vegans also avoid animal-derived materials, products tested on animals, and places that use animals for entertainment, according to The Vegan Society.
Conversely, the paleo diet does not shy away from animal products. Designed to mimic a diet similar to that eaten during the Paleolithic era – a period that dates from approximately 2.5m to 10,000 years ago – the eating plan encourages consumption of lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
This traditional hunter-gatherer style of eating dismisses dairy products, legumes and grains – all of which were produced and cultivated by farmers from approximately 10,000 years ago onwards.
Peganism was born out of Hyman’s desire to combine aspects of a paleo and vegan/vegetarian diet. The eating plan encourages high intake of fruit, vegetables, and good fats; moderate intake of gluten-free grains and pulses; and shuns gluten, industrial sugars, dairy products, and processed foods.
Snacks drive paleo-friendly and vegan innovation
According to market research firm Mintel, companies have yet to achieve the full potential of peganism – as recent data from Germany has shown.
While the US takes the lead for the most ‘paleo-friendly’ innovation leader – having launched the most hunter-gatherer style food products between 2014 and 2018, Germany also stands out as a leader in food innovation, according to Mintel’s Global New Product Database (GNPD).
The GNPD monitors consumer packaged foods in 86 countries, across 46 categories and 272 subcategories.
Australia came in second to the US, followed by the UK. Yet according to Mintel data, during this time period Germany was the third most innovative market in the world for new food and drink products that are both paleo-friendly and vegan.
“While the US currently dominates, pegan products also offer potential for food and beverage manufacturers in Germany,” noted Honorata Jarocka, global food and drink analyst at Mintel.
Indeed, according to the firm’s database, 41% of vegan and paleo-friendly product launches in Germany during this time frame were in the snack bar category.
“Over the past five years, this category has been driving innovation for paleo-friendly and vegan products,” said Jarocka. “Other categories that increasingly integrated pegan products last year were fruit snacks and cold cereals.”
Combining convenience with health
Pegan foods can also feed into the consumer trend for healthier foods that fit with busy lifestyles, Jarocka argued. “Pegan snack bars have great market potential.”
According to Mintel, 43% of Germans think hectic lifestyles make snacks a necessity. “Pegan innovations could therefore meet these contrasting but connecting needs,” she suggested.
“By adopting a broader health message, supported by minimal processing and ‘clean’ ingredients, manufacturers would be able to address the general consumer interest in healthy snack options, while appealing to a wider range of consumers.”