Looking at the ‘most popular products’ among its customers, freeze-dry experts at European Freeze Dry have picked their top five picks for ingredients that they believe will grow in popularity among vegan shoppers.
“Working closely with our customers, our R&D team is continually looking at new products for this market, and to support our new product development we conduct market research, stage trials and hold taste sessions,” explained Sarah Lacey, the company’s development manager.
So, what are the top five? According to the company, we can expect to see more products on shelves that contain turtle beans, diced sweet potato, black-eyed beans, diced beetroot and caramelised onion.
Lacey told FoodNavigator that these ingredients are making their way into a wide range of applications, from noodle and rice pots to bread mixes, pot meals and ready meals. “This means they are ready to be used as ingredients in a range of applications be it sweet or savoury.”
Sustainable, healthy and natural innovation
According to Lacey, freeze drying technology offers product developers the change to work with ingredients that are sustainable, nutritional and natural – feeding into some key consumer concerns.
“We are working with customers to support their environmental and sustainability policies. They want less time dealing with waste, a reduced carbon footprint and a process that adds value to their green credentials long term,” she elaborated.
“Our freeze-drying technology supports this approach, and the results are prolonged shelf-life of fresh products, reduced food waste, with the structure of the food retained along with the flavour and nutritional value.
“Freeze drying offers natural ingredients which are easy to use. Due to the gentle process, the vast majority of the nutrition is retained.”
In particular, Lacey observed vegan consumers are demanding healthy, 'originally sourced' food ingredients which are also 'full' of taste and nutrition. In her view, products made using freeze-drying tech meet the brief.
No vegan slowdown on coronavirus concerns
Demand for vegan food is rising rapidly in Europe. According to the Vegan Society, the number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled since 2014 to 600,000. Vegans are forecast to make up a quarter of the population by 2025.
And while the coronavirus crisis has resulted in significant and rapid behavioural shifts in the grocery aisle, Lacey is convinced that the vegan trend shows no sign of abating.
“[There is] no evidence to show a slowing down. It would withstand the disruption just like any other food products. The freeze drying allows us to offer longer shelf life,” she added.