Cuisines rarely get any hotter than Mediterranean food is today, which is riding a wave of good health and diet news and a concurrent interest among restaurateurs and tastemakers.
Most recently, the Mediterranean diet came up in an observational study suggesting that diet quality in midlife can predict better health as populations age.
The study, published this month by the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, was based on survey responses from more than 10,000 women. It found that women who followed the Mediterranean diet in their 50s — that is, a diet consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and fish, and with less red meat, processed foods and alcohol — were about 40% more likely to reach their 70s without developing chronic diseases and memory or physical problems, compared to women who didn’t eat as well.
Mediterranean tastes are also hot. Food futurists at Boulder, Colo.-based Sterling-Rice Group identified growing taste for Mediterranean flavors — including the exotic spices and flavors of Israel, Turkey and other Middle East countries like sumac, za’atar, and aleppo peppers — as one of its top 10 cutting-edge dining trends for 2014. The group also noting trendy restaurants like Joule in Seattle and Glasserie in Brooklyn, N.Y., have embraced the trend.
In Your Face: Greek Yogurt in HBC
The Greek yogurt phenomenon isn’t over yet — and in fact, it may only be getting started.
That’s according to a new study from global marketing firm Affinnova, Waltham, Mass., which suggested Greek yogurt has the potential to “expand beyond the dairy case and become the next super trend in consumer packaged goods.” The study tested 40 prospective Greek yogurt product ideas and identified nearly a dozen that could extend the product across new categories in food, health and beauty, and baby care.
“Health trends have the power to transform the way consumers view entire product categories and even brands,” said Waleed Al-Atraqchi, president and CEO of Affinnova. “We’ve seen that with antioxidants and now with gluten free. The difficulty lies in knowing when a trend is not a fad and how far it can extend across categories. Because the characteristics of trends are fluid, consumer packaged goods companies need to examine trends on a continual basis. Without up-to-date information, companies miss the opportunity to lead and shape their categories or risk unsuccessful forays.”
According to Affinnova, protein and vitamin benefits of yogurt make for a natural additive to health and beauty products, such as the potential for a “breakout” anti-wrinkle cream.
Whole Health feature: The Thyme Is Now for Natural Food Startup
At least one company is already onto the yogurt-as-skincare trend: Dairyface is marketing refrigerated dairy-based skincare products it said are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, lecithin, vitamins A, D, E, C and B12 — just like yogurt, only with higher milkfat content and mixed with various oils, herbs and prebiotics and probiotics. The company’s Peppermint Crème Nourishing Facial Refresher was voted best new health and beauty product at Natural Products Expo East.
Affinnova’s study suggested companies could expand Greek yogurt throughout the store, with potential application in salad dressings, ice cream, dips and smoothies. Muffin and cake mixes infused with Greek yogurt would also be well received, the survey said.
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