Natural foods continue to edge into mainstream

Posted by Isobel Drake on 16th June 2009

Fine Food Australia is shaping up to be a showcase for everything new in natural foods for retail and hospitality businesses, according to Exhibition Manager, Minnie Constan.

“We’re seeing that changing consumption habits are driving an increase in organic food sales, despite the economic downturn. People today prefer to adopt a natural, healthier approach to life and their eating habits,” Ms Constan said.

While the economic downturn has led to more Australian families ‘eating in’, they are increasingly opting to cook with healthy, natural produce. In fact, it appears that the economic downturn has pulled organic, natural and ethical foods, along with relative newcomer gluten free foods, into the mainstream of the food industry.

A benchmark study commissioned by the Biological Farmers Federation in 2008 revealed that major retailers now carry in excess of 500 different organic lines across fresh and grocery categories.

While many major retailers report that the number of natural lines is increasing, this does not mean smaller, independent outlets and foodservice will miss out.

“There are always opportunities to specialise and cater for specific target markets – it’s just a question of finding them,” Ms Constan added.

Fine Food, which is now Australia’s largest tradeshow, will be held in September in Sydney and specific areas of interest will be covered via a range of special product feature areas called ‘Worlds’.

“Visitors interested in natural, organic or ethical foods are encouraged to visit the Natural Food World and the new Gluten Free World, but should make sure they also reserve time to see what other new products are on offer in the rest of the show,” Ms Constan urged.

Some of the natural, organic, ethical and gluten free products on show at Fine Food this year include:
*Absolute Fruitz Freeze Dried Fruit – created using a vacuum condition where water is removed, leaving the true essence of the fruit so it’s perfect for snacking. Free of fat, cholesterol, gluten, dairy, preservatives, sulphur and no artificial colours or flavours.

*Taste of India is launching an authentic Indian cuisine collection that is 100% natural, with no preservatives, food colours, additives or stabilisers and entirely gluten free. The collection includes 9 varieties of dhal and 9 varieties of meat curry.

*Lifestyle Bakery has four distinct selections of bread catering for different dietary needs, each of which includes organic spelt as the main ingredient – Gluten Free Selection is made from gluten free Chia seed; Sprouted Grain Selection is unique to Australia and comprises organic sprouted grains and no flour; Wheat Alternative Selection is for those who are avoiding wheat and Healthy Living Selection is a ‘diet choice’ loaf, created based on research by The University of Western Australia which discovered that bread with ‘Lupin flour’ increases the feeling of fullness.

*Tixana is showing a range of Gluten Free Vegetable Chips and Gluten Free Vege Crackers.

*Conifer Specialities from USA is committed to environmentally friendly practices and has reduced the packaging of its dried soups by 60%. The packaging is also totally recyclable and the soup is completely free of GM ingredients.

*Los Chileros from Santa Fe offer a wide range of gluten free mixes and chillies and will be showing a new Mexico Red Chile, Chipotle, Ancho and Cayenne.

*Spiral Foods has 3 new lines – Organic Winter Marinades, Organic Pantry Essential and EDEN organic toasted flakes. They will also be releasing a New Organic Fruit Range.

*Swheat is releasing a 50ml biodegradable shot cup with two divisions. One contains wheatgrass, the other a blend of flavours containing spirulina, ginger, ginseng, green tea, mango, guava, orange banana and passion fruit.

*Bakers Maison is introducing the First Fairtrade Certified Chocolate Muffin in Australia. It contains Fairtrade raw sugar, cocoa powder and chocolate chips.

*Carmen’s Fine Foods is releasing new Gluten Free Muesli, Gluten Free Deluxe Muesli bars,  Muesli Bites with no added nuts and Carmen’s Rounds.

“The growth and diversity in natural, organic, ethical and sustainable products is an industry phenomenon. Retail, hospitality and foodservice buyers should make the most of this exceptional opportunity and seek out ways to profit from the increasing numbers of environmentally aware consumers,” Ms Constan advised.