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Seed Butter Trends & Data: Nutrition becomes the new focus
One of the more, dare we say, positive side effects of all the pandemic doomscrolling indulged in over the last year has been the growing interest in nutrition. The scramble to boost immunity has meant that conversations about the efficacy of vitamin C and zinc or vitamin D are no longer limited to doctors and nutritionists. Our analysis shows that searches related to immunity went up by nearly 1900% between 2019 and 2020.
Initially, the focus was on supplements, but soon it turned to how to make the most from the food we eat, giving a significant boost to the ‘food as medicine’ concept.
Interest in food as medicine grew by 90% over the last year, US
One mineral that we expect will see a lot more traction in the coming year is magnesium. A recent study showed that a combination of vitamin D3, magnesium, and B12 could reduce intensive care needs and oxygen support in COVID-19 patients over the age of 50 years.
Magnesium is also an important nutrient for sleep (the lack of which could lower immunity) and to regulate zinc levels in the body. However, many of us just do not get enough magnesium in our diets.
Nuts and seeds are quite high in magnesium and this opens up quite a bit of opportunity for the spreads category.
Nutterly butterly delicious
Nuts are a popular snack but have also done extremely well as alternative spreads to peanut butter. Nut butters really grew into their own as studies showed that fats could indeed be healthy and further picked up as diets like keto and paleo picked up. It also helped that consumers had become quite interested in experimenting with foods and were always on the lookout for something new.
Nut Butter Trends: Interest in nut butters grew by 70% over the last year, US
And this popularity of nut butters could very well be the driving force to push seed butters into the foreground of the spreads category, while the seeds’ nutritional profile could keep that momentum going.
For consumers looking to increase their magnesium levels through food rather than supplements, seeds are among the richest sources. This holds significant potential for seed butters – spreads like nut butters but made with seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, or sesame seeds.
Interest in seed butters has been growing over the last few years, according to Spoonshot data.
Interest in seed butters grew by 34% over the last year, US
Seed butters, much like their nutty counterparts, are high in plant-based protein and healthy fats, and are a great option for a pre-workout energy boost. In addition to magnesium, seeds are also rich in a number of micronutrients, like iron. Despite seed butters having been around for a few years now, they are still quite niche.
Relative volume of references with regard to different types of butters, US
Mostly, seeds were blended in with nut butters, but now we’re seeing products that position seeds as the hero ingredient. We’re seeing innovation in this space with launches featuring seeds ranging from the fairly staple sunflower and pumpkin to the more unusual watermelon and hemp.
Now with greater awareness of the importance of increasing magnesium in our diets (and other micronutrients), this is the right time for seed butter brands to highlight these features and encourage greater consumption. Such seed butters also satisfy consumer demand for solutions that satisfy their taste fatigue with nut butters.
Seed butter launches cover ingredients ranging from staples to unique
Log in to our platform to see more examples of seed butters and the ingredients used.
Spreading the word on seed butter trends
As more products are launched featuring seeds, consumer interest in this space will continue to grow. But to push things along, there is scope to follow the trajectory of growth of nut butters. These products can be used as bread spreads, dips, ingredients to make other foods, or just be consumed on their own as a snack.
Incorporating them into other snack products, such as energy bars, worked very well for the nut spread category, elevating not just the functionality of the bars but also promoting the ingredient. For example, Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy range includes ice cream made from sunflower seed butter.
In addition to the health benefits, seeds also have other features going for them that would appeal to consumers as alternatives to nut butters, including the fact that they are sustainable and cheaper than nut butters (depending on the seed, of course). The price of these products is going to be an important feature as economies around the world struggle in the wake of the pandemic and consumers still hold on tightly to their purse strings.
For manufacturers, there is scope to take cues from recipes from home chefs. We analyzed recipes of seed butters or those that incorporated seed butter to find out what the top seeds being used are causing a spike in the seed butter trends.
Hero ingredient from recipe analysis of seed butter recipes
|Seed Type||% of Recipes|
|White Sesame Seeds||1.9|
As nut and seed butters gain greater popularity, there is also scope for the expansion of the category in terms of ingredients that consumers are familiar with but would not normally associate with the spreads/butters category. Legumes like chickpeas and white beans can be incorporated into sweet spreads for added protein, a twist in the flavor, and for greater affordability.
Ranjana works as the Lead Research Analyst for Spoonshot. Her past experience includes working with a major global market research company, specializing in food and drink trends. She has also worked with major publications as a writer and editor.