Superfoods - Statistics & Facts

The term “superfood” has become an often used buzzword in the language of food and health. But due to the lack of scientifically-based evidence of the often praised positive health effects of these products, the actual term is neither legally protected nor officially defined. According to the English Oxford dictionary, a superfood is described as “A nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”. These foods often have an additional nutritional value (value-added products) in comparison to other food products such as a high fiber, antioxidant, mineral or vitamin content or a desirable fatty acid composition. Producers and marketers of superfoods highlight this extra value in order to market their products. Foods that are often discussed as being superfoods in the media include ancient grains, chia seeds, pulses, seaweed and kombucha.

On a global level, the United States accounted for approximately 30 percent of food and drink launches featuring the terms "superfood", "superfruit" or "supergrain" in 2015, followed by Australia and Germany. “Supergrains” or so-called ancient grains such as quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat or millet showed a double-digit growth in dollar sales in the U.S. conventional, multi-outlet channel in 2015. Chia seeds are also commonly referred to as an ancient grain, but the omega-three fatty-acid-filled food is actually a seed. The global market value of chia seeds was estimated at about 0.27 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. According to a recent survey where U.S. consumers were asked how healthy or unhealthy they consider a list of selected food products, chia seeds had the top spot (together with quinoa) with an average score of 3.79 on a scale from one to five with “five” being “very healthy".

A relatively newly promoted superfood is the vitamin-packed seaweed. It was also to be found as a good source of calcium and iodine. In 2016, the global market for commercial seaweed was valued at 11.34 billion U.S. dollars. Taking all product launches in North America into account, products containing seaweed flavor made up 0.12 percent in 2015. Asia-Pacific was responsible for the lion’s share of seaweed-flavored product launches between 2011 and 2015, distantly followed by Europe and North America.

In addition to the food category, the beverage segment also has value-added products such as kombucha to offer. The fermented tea drink has been promoted to have a positive health effect. In 2015, the global kombucha market was estimated at 0.6 billion U.S. dollars worldwide. In the United States, 14.1 percent of consumers reported to have consumed kombucha at least once in the last five years.

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