Wheatgrass gaining ground

Wheatgrass is rapidly emerging as a health ingredient in the mainstream food and drinks market, finds Innova Market Insights. It has long been available in health food stores and specialist outlets, but is now increasingly being used in supplements and food and drink products. This is often occurring in combination with other components with a healthy image or perceived health benefits.

“Wheatgrass is the young grass of the wheat plant triticum aestivum,” explains Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “It can be traced back in history for thousands of years and is associated with a raft of health benefits through supplemental nutrition to unique curative properties. Virtually all of these claims remain scientifically unproven, although it is recognised as a good source of potassium, dietary fibre and a range of vitamins and minerals.”

According to Innova Market Insights data, global launches of food and drink products containing wheatgrass saw a double digit increase in the 12 months to the end of February 2015, and tracked launches have more than doubled over the past two years. Europe and North America had the highest launch numbers over the past year, with Europe accounting for 55% of the total and North America over 33%. The leading markets were the UK and the US.

Perhaps more significant, however, is the move away from supplement type products and into mainstream food and drink, which accounted for 40% of launches featuring wheatgrass recorded over the past year. Soft drink products – primarily juice drinks and smoothies – accounted for half of this total, with some activity also evident in snacks, ready meals and dairy beverages.

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