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Cactus water and seaweed at forefront of healthy eating boom

Coconut flour, cactus water and seaweed were among the top food trends over the past year as shoppers embraced healthy eating over calorie counting, according to a report from grocer Waitrose.

Published: November 2, 2016
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A marked shift to families eating "lighter and fresher" than five years ago even led to a 165% leap in sales of mini Easter hot cross buns on the year before, the Waitrose Food and Drink Report said.

A survey for the report found just 30 per cent of people consciously counted calories when they tried to lose weight and more than half of those polled (53 per cent) said that eating sensibly was part of their daily ritual rather than something they did reactively or periodically.

Meanwhile, Waitrose noted that "faddy diets seem to be on the decline".

Some 60 per cent of shoppers say the food they choose is naturally lighter and fresher then five years ago and 71 per cent claim that eating healthily and looking after themselves is "part of who they are".

Sales of coconut flour, touted as a gluten-free alternative to regular flour and high in fibre and protein, were up 24 per cent on the year before, while buckwheat sales rose 82% and chia seeds sales were up 62%.
Cactus water, said to have high antioxidant, vitamin and mineral levels, as well as fibre- and potassium-rich seaweed, which was also introduced this year, have both been strong sellers for the supermarket.

Natalie Mitchell, head of brand development at Waitrose, said: "Old distinctions are fast disappearing. Once, healthy food was deemed bland and unimaginative. Today, people are more likely to perceive healthy food as tasty and tasty food as healthy."

According to analysts Mintel, UK-wide sales of 'free-from' foods such as gluten- or lactose-free ranges are forecast to grow 43 per cent from £470 million last year to £673 million by 2020.

One in eight food products launched in Britain last year was gluten-free, up from one in 14 in 2011.
The Waitrose report also reveals its predictions of top food trends for next year, including the Polynesian snack poke (pronounced poh-keh), a raw fish salad marinated with lime, soy and sesame and often served with rice, and yogurt infused with vegetables such as carrot, beetroot, sweet potato and tomato.

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• OnePoll surveyed 2,000 UK adults in July.

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