Kale, or borecole, part of the brassica family of vegetables, is currently riding high in the UK and US markets with sales buoyed by celebrity chefs using it in recipes.
According to Innova Market Insights, the use of kale in a wide range of packaged food and drinks products has soared with the total number of global introductions more than trebling over the five-year period to the end of 2012.
Declined in popularity
Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, reported that kale, while a traditional vegetable of long standing in many parts of the world, including Europe, Africa and China, declined in popularity as a wider range of alternatives started to appear.
“More recently,” she added, “rising interest in healthy eating and wintertime availability have regenerated interest in its use, supported by a growing presence on restaurant menus and ongoing promotional activity by TV chefs.”
In the UK, many new products have been seasonal launches in the soup sector.
Chilled soups company New Covent Garden introduced its Winter Broth with Bacon & Curly Kale early this year, followed by free-from brand Soupologie’s inclusion of a Spinach & Kale with Roasted Garlic variant in its six-strong spring season range.
A more unusual application is kale chips, made with dried organic kale by Inspiral and now marketed under the Raw Kale Chips name in a range of savoury flavours, including Wasabi Wheatgrass, Baobab & Onion and Cheesie Purple Corn, all made with fresh, British kale, rich in antioxidants, calcium and vitamin A.
They were joined in 2013 by the first sweet variants, Cacao & Cinnamon and Raspberry Maca. Kale chips are also available in the US from companies such as Rhythm Superfoods, a natural foods brand specialising in raw, vegan and gluten-free foods.