May 22, 2024

Kelp seaweed: emerging ingredient to watch

Kelp seaweed is one of the next big sustainable ingredients to watch out for in Europe, according to the latest Mintel research. The new data reveals that less than 1% of food, drink and supplement launches in Europe between 2019 and 2023 included kelp as an ingredient.

What’s more, kelp is a novel ingredient* in food and drink launches in Europe compared to other herbal ingredients, such as those prepared from ingredients like herbs, spices, plant concentrates, and algae). However, data from Mintel’s new Ingredientscape AI tool reveals that kelp’s prevalence in new food and drink product launches across Europe steadily increased between 2005 and 2023. Accordingly, Mintel is confident that there will be a growing number of food and drink launches in Europe that include kelp over the coming year. Mintel launched Ingredientscape AI as a predictive tool to help food and drink manufacturers instantly understand the ingredients landscape to reveal emerging and winning ingredients within a category and country of interest.

Emma Schofield, Associate Director, Global Food Science, Mintel said: “Interest in algae, such as the kelp seaweed, is growing in Europe due to its health and sustainability benefits. “Seaweed has already gained popularity in western cuisine as chefs and food manufacturers explore its unique flavours and nutritional value. Food and drink brands have the potential to explore greater options with kelp; for example, in the snack category, creating seaweed-infused crispy seaweed chips or mixing seaweed into already popular items such as crackers or popcorn. Manufacturers can make seaweed more approachable for consumers and enhance its adoption by presenting it in familiar formats.

“Incorporating environmentally friendly seaweed into food and drink products can also enhance the nutrition profile of foods, such as by increasing its fibre content. “The EU is currently one of the world’s biggest seaweed importers, receiving seaweed from countries like China and South Korea**. However, there is interest in developing the market for European-produced seaweed. While the majority of seaweed is currently farmed in Asia, Mintel thinks that producers should consider European-grown algae ingredients, tapping into consumer interest in the economic, environmental and social benefits of locally grown food.”  

*Defined as either new and experimental, or focused on very niche products/specific consumer groups

**Source: The European Commission: https://bit.ly/4deFMMW