And there was I thinking Europe was doing well on the whole health agenda… 

Fresh back from 10 days on the West Coast of the US at Expo West and LA, followed by a brisk four-day runaround in New York, I now think we are only roughly 60% there. There are many impressive healthy brands and trends across the pond that I think the UK can learn a lot from.

Of the brands I saw, Snappeaz - which, interestingly, has a factory in the UK as of next month - was going great guns, offering pea and bean-based snacks in a unique extruded pea shape that’s really tasty. They are quirky, yet have so much mainstream appeal for such a clean label.

In fact, there were masses of seaweed-based, bean-based extruded and ‘baked’ whole bean snacks, plus numerous kale and super vegetable snacks. ‘Taste good and do good’ seemed to be an overarching mantra, all with mass-market healthy positioning and affordability, not to mention GMO-free and organic credentials.

Then there’s the marketing, which was really empowering. Away with the apologetic, bumbling natural drink examples that are treading water in their attempt to own new space in the UK. In the US, there was an effusive passion for changing consumer behaviours, especially in the cold-pressed HPP juice space. These brands were on fire, as were the teams behind them. Rawpothecary seems one to watch, as nutrition is a key focus. I think Forager will do well too. There is starting to be a lot of samey-ness in recipes and flavour profiles, though, so continued innovation will be key.

Elsewhere, pomegranate, coconut water and green tea are so ‘on the curve’. We haven’t even experienced kombucha, turmeric or guayusa in any major way in the UK yet. These are whole categories in themselves out there, with brands such as Runa and Tumeric Alive (rebranding as Temple Tumeric last week). We have so much catching up to do.

Last but not least, there’s protein. Sports nutrition is one thing, but making protein accessible to the masses is another. Jerky is a big part of that story in the US, but the UK has hardly touched the potential. Kooeee - a completely new brand - showed great innovation through packaging, variety and great taste. Ruby Bay and The Whole Catch smoked seafood jerkys were interesting too, as some of the first fish jerkys out there, and there was even a 25% fish protein pasta!

This is just a snippet of the opportunities out there for brands over here. I’m excited. All we have to do now is get this juggernaut of a European food business to take a few more ‘off the satnav’ turnings and short cut to some real growth.

“In the US, there is a passion for changing behaviours”