Alimarket Mass Market
With ready-made salads becoming more popular, a sector born out of the need of consumers with little time for cooking, but who are eager to eat healthily, the horticulture sector is tied up looking for new horizons to broaden the offering, which could meet a demand that won’t stop growing. New ingredients, extra energy intakes, additional nutritional value, the inclusion of the so-called “superfoods”, new ready-to-eat food products, all is valid to win the race where there are more and more runners.
At this point, not only is it necessary to innovate to break new ground, but being imaginative also does its bit when finding a loophole which makes us become the product chosen by a consumer who is more susceptible to being enticed by an offer to cover their healthy food needs.
The actual situation in the sector is somewhat intriguing if we adhere to different sources. Thus, facing a market of 88,890 t (with a 8.13% growth in volume), according to data from IRI for the range of ready-made food products; the Spanish Association for Washed and Ready-to-Eat Fruits and Vegetables, Ahorfresh (which Florette and Verdifresh are part of), places the market at 105,513 t – with a 3.32% progression. Alimarket, for their part, has collected data directly from the main operators in the sector and has reached the conclusion that the 20 main operators in the sector of convenience products place their volume of joint marketing above 187,000 t, with a global increase of 2.42%, a percentage that reaches double figures if we look solely at the 10 main operators.
All of the sources seem to coincide in the constant incorporation of companies into this sector and in the search for new products, both for those already operating in it and for those who are joining it.
Nothing is what it seems
Within these new products, we find imaginative vegetable solutions, such as hamburgers, meat balls, nuggets, falafel, rice, pasta, etc. A completely camouflaged world behind which are purely horticulture companies, such as Verdifresh (“Calapasta”); Comfresh (marketing Frujuca products), or Delles Global España (“Spaveggi”), or manufacturers of prepared food, such as Nestlé itself (“Garden Gourmet”); Nutrition & Santé Iberia (“Cèrèal Grill Vegetal) or even Caprisa Foods, specialising in meat products, which has launched the new brand “Vegreen” for its green meat alternatives. Even Carrefour has its own offering of hamburgers, meat balls and nuggets, amongst others, with the insignia “Carrefour Veggie”, created by the French company Cité Marine. And to complete the picture, we find other formats, such as chorizo, salami, botifarra or mortadella, behind which are companies like Noel Alimentaria and the Galician start-up Fiablone.
In fact, the vegetable spaghetti are one of the gambles which looks to be really promising. Until 2017, at least 3 companies had this offer on the market: the Galician start-up Delles Global España (with three varieties; courgette, beetroot and carrot, and who invented the brand “SpaVeggie” in an aim to coordinate veggie food and the type of pasta that was their inspiration); Comfresh-Frujuca (courgette and pumpkin, at the end of this year sweet potato will be added to these varieties, and which frames these products within a global offering of healthy products, amongst which are also juice mixtures); and Verdifresh (“Calapasta”, marketed in Mercadona supermarkets, in packaging that allows it to be cooked directly in the microwave). Comfresh, for its part, began this year launching another Frujuca new product onto the market: rice made with cauliflower, broccoli or a mix (a combination of cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and carrot), a granulated product similar to rice that can be cooked in its own packaging in the microwave and which aims to be used as a vegetarian side dish for different types of dishes.
And whilst Delles Global España is running tests to increase their offerings with new vegetables, the company Grupo Alimentario Citrus, for its part, is about to launch another new product, “Es Avena!” from “Sun & Vegs”, an oatmeal snack for vegans which is lactose-free and developed in collaboration with Valencia Polytechnic University and the Dairy Products Unit at the University of Lugo.
The resemblance of the product has meant that the majority of the companies that create vegetarian meat alternatives have developed a joint bid: hamburgers, meat balls and nuggets, to which in some cases other products are combined, such as cold meats. These products aren’t only a delight for vegetarians and vegans, but are also starting to be accepted by parents that believe that these products are ideal for getting their children used to eating vegetables. Thus, this offering, started up previously by Nestlé, and which many companies have joined up to, as we mentioned before, could become a growth path for the horticulture sector too.