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Over the past decade the health food ingredients market has swelled internationally, in particular throughout the west. With increasingly active and busy lifestyles, and more information available online and via social networks, consumers are constantly seeking the next new flavour or ingredient with key health benefits. Often these ingredients originate in other cultures and countries, in particular India.
Many ingredients and products that have traditionally been used in India have been adopted by the west due to properties which boost health and the immune system. With its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, turmeric became a widely popular product in 2017 ranking as the fifth top selling mainstream herbal supplement in the US that year. Supporting digestion, turmeric continues to be an important product in the west particularly in the form of a turmeric latte, or as it is known on social media, a golden latte.
As healthy ingredients are a dynamic part of the trend for self-care and wellness, visuals are important. Social media has had a huge impact on the food industry, meaning appealing products such as a turmeric latte rank higher than less visually interesting health ingredients.
Another health ingredient native to India which is set to become popular in the west is moringa. Native to northern India, moringa leaves have been used in Indian cooking for centuries, often in lentil dishes and chutneys. A natural adaptogen with a rich nutritional profile, Google searches for moringa have increased by 320% over the last seven years, and major food brand Knorr has hailed it as one of the the ‘Future 50 Foods.’
Dietary requirements and preferences in the west have also created a demand for health ingredients originating in India. Widely used across the Middle East and Asia, chickpea flour is an Indian staple which has been adopted by the west as a gluten-free product. While there has been a significant rise in gluten-free diets, the biggest success of products made with chickpea flour are often those marketed as health products. American company Banza have successfully branded their chickpea flour-based pasta as a product higher in fibre and protein than traditional pasta, which appeals to a market beyond those seeking gluten alternatives.
In order to successfully navigate the health ingredient market it is important to consider factors such as sustainability. The massive surge in almond milk of recent years has taken a dive due to the volume of water it takes to farm almonds. Taking its place as the desirable dairy alternative is oat milk. As a more sustainable crop, oats cause less environmental strain which is increasingly important to consumers.
As the west continues to pursue and adopt ingredients native and common to India, there are huge opportunities for Indian producers to pivot their messaging and marketing to western clients. By promoting the health benefits and applications of ingredients, Indian producers can rebrand existing and common products to an international audience. Beyond the use of Indian health ingredients in the west, younger Indian generations are taking an interest in the health benefits of food, allowing for traditional ingredients and methods to remain relevant and practiced.