Wednesday, 25 May. 2016
Produce Business UK reports that UK consumers and food
manufacturers are turning to herbs as an acceptable alternative to sugar, salt
and synthetic additives. The move
complements the growing use of herbs in a wider variety of food and drink for
that tasty, healthy kick.
Sales of both fresh and dried herbs are benefiting as a result,
and herbs are increasingly being used not just in food but in the creation of
smoothies and teas. In general, they are seen as a good source of flavour and
health benefits as well as being able to enhance the taste and appearance of
meat and vegetable dishes, soups, sauces and roasts. Many herbs also fit into
contemporary eating trends.
By encouraging consumers to look at new ways of using herbs, major
UK supplier Vitacress reports that its Herbalicious campaign is proving
extremely successful in generating sales of fresh herbs, especially pots to
take home. The website attracts around 40,000 visitors each month.
Tony Reid, head of marketing at Vitacress, says: “We are planning
to extend the Herbalicious project this year and to introduce more PR activity.
We will be working with food bloggers and focusing on the top five herbs to
reinforce usage. We will also be reinforcing world cuisine to link in with the
[Rio 2016] Olympics movement, and stressing fresh fruit cocktails at sporting
events this summer.”
The total market for herbs in the UK is estimated to be around the
£70-100million (about $100-145 million) level.
In terms of popularity, coriander is the most used herb, followed by
rosemary, basil, parsley, mint and sage, according to Vitacress.
Vitacress has noticed sales of lemongrass and lime leaves have
grown significantly too. Demand for lime
leaves is now at around 15-18% of the overall market, partly fuelled by
consumer interest in oriental, Indian and Mexican cuisines since it’s a popular
herb in almost every dish. People seeking to create authentic Mexican dishes
also often find themselves using coriander rather than the traditional cilantro,
which has very similar leaves and taste.
Demand for dried herbs is equally strong, and the category is
therefore regarded as a key part of the overall market for herbs. Already a store cupboard essential for many
food manufacturers, chefs, foodservice operators and consumers, and coupled
with the increase in popularity of home cooking, dried herbs and blends are
experiencing a boost in sales, according to Christine Peers, sales director at EHL
Currently, the most popular dried herbs at EHL Ingredients are
oregano, parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary, which are widely used by
foodservice chefs and food manufacturers to add to frozen or chilled meals and
accompaniments, meals kits and prepared food.
Almost every consumer has a range of dried herbs at home too, and
often this is a way of trying out different combinations. Once they have done so, consumers will often
move onto using fresh herbs on special occasions. Meanwhile, all-in-one seasoning mixes are
popular with younger consumers who lack the confidence to create their own
At the same time, herbal teas are growing in popularity. Euromonitor’s 2016 report, Tea in the United
Kingdom, indicates that sales of traditional black standard tea declined by 2%
in 2015 due partly to the fact that it was not seen as fashionable. Herbal and fruit teas, meanwhile, took up the
slack in sales since these are regarded as being healthier. They also appeal to a younger generation of
tea drinkers. Consumers are also
attracted to fruit and herbal teas because of their wider variety of tastes;
they offer a changing mix of exciting infusions and new product developments
that are seen as more interesting than standard black tea.
Herbal teas tend to command premium prices and are often presented
in variety packs, which enables consumers to try a wide selection without
having to buy in large quantities.