‘Weed may be the next superfood. But not that weed. Seaweed is poised to be the next hot functional ingredient, according to a recent report from Mintel, noted on fooddive.com. Product launches featuring the ingredient increased in North America by 76 percent between 2011 and 2015; and 147 percent in Europe in that same time period, according to Food Business News.
Why the growing popularity? "Due to its abundance in natural vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein, seaweed speaks to the growing quest for naturally functional foods and alternative protein sources in the West," Stephanie Mattucci, global food science analyst, Mintel, said in a release. Ground seaweed is a natural substitute for salt, and has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, which do well in the healthy snack category. It’s packed with vitamins A and C and minerals like iodine.
Innovative products featuring seaweed appeared throughout the show floor at Natural Products Expo West as well as at the winter Fancy Food show. Ocean’s Halo, based in San Francisco, is set to open the country’s first seaweed manufacturing plant.
Could seaweed flavors kombu, nori and wakame one day be among American’s faves? The new seaweed products will actually have to taste good if they’re going to well in the West, said Mattucci.