In UK food market the share of new products with gluten-free claims nearly doubled in 2016. Innovation has centered on the use of beans, pulses and non-wheat grains to make pasta, also allowing for high-protein and -fiber claims. Wheat-based pasta too has looked to boost its health credentials, such as with “50/50” variants and the inclusion of vegetables. In rice, companies have looked to ancient grains and pulses. According to Alyson Parkes, Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel, opportunities to expand the user base of the pasta and rice markets in the UK are limited by their established near-universal usage. Meanwhile, consumers’ continued interest in world cuisines suggests a chance for noodles to grow usage. Establishing new usage occasions beyond traditional dishes could benefit the segment, given consumer interest in suggestions for their use in soups and stews.
The market goes healthy
Health concerns around carbohydrates are likely to remain an issue for the market. However, recent innovation in the use of grains and pulses in pasta dough and rice blends look well placed to drive interest in the category. Communicating health credentials and highlighting the ‘positive nutrition’ these offer is, however, needed to drive awareness and bolster engagement with the category. Although the market will see upward pressure on prices from the rising cost of imported goods, demand for convenience is likely to ensure they stay on the menu. Products that deliver time savings will likely continue to win favor with consumers. While instant noodle snacks and RTH variants in the rice market are well established, instant formats in the pasta market have been limited, consumer interest indicating an opportunity for innovation.