In the simplest of terms, biodiversity is critical to life on earth.
It boosts ecosystem productivity wherein all species have a role to play, no matter how small. However, a loss of biodiversity—that is, the reduction or loss of a species, whether plant or animal—creates unstable ecosystems, and adversely affects our food chain (perhaps irreversibly).
Foods and ingredients that promote biodiversity draw upon a wider range of sources, thereby putting less pressure on a single species.
When we visited the What’s Next in Food exhibit at the Winter Fancy Food Show, we saw firsthand how many progressive companies are tapping various “alternative” ingredients—both in the name of great taste and improved biodiversity.
Here are 3 special ingredients that promote biodiversity and how brands are leveraging them for some delightful new products.
Jackfruit: This very large fruit native to India has a renowned, meaty-like texture with strong flavor-carrying attributes. When we say large fruit, we’re not kidding—this is the largest tree-borne fruit, often exceeding 80 pounds. Jackfruit is often used as a meat alternative, usually replacing pork or chicken. We were fortunate enough to try this ingredient featured in delicious products by the jack of all foods, The Jackfruit Company, where they served up smoked, pulled jackfruit on a tortilla chip. Even big retailers like Trader Joe’s are getting behind this ingredient in 2019.
Moringa: This is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree native to South Asia whose leaves are packed with significant sources of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. These qualities make it a perfect ingredient for boosting the nutritional profile of a range of foods and drinks. At the show, we ran into the owners of Kuli Kuli who market a line of pure moringa powders for mixing into everyday foods and beverages. We sampled some delicious guacamole with their moringa powder mixed in, and watched others begin their happy hour with moringa-infused margaritas.
Quinoa: Almost a mainstream ingredient now, quinoa remains a key plant in the quest for a biodiverse ecosystem. The Incas, who cultivated the crop 4,000 years ago, called this special ingredient “the mother of all grains.” At the Fancy Food Show, we were introduced to LiveKuna from Ecuador who makes delicious snacks and cereals from this highly nutritious, gluten-free grain. We were able to try Kuna Pops, which were out of this world.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time meeting the people behind the brands who are devoted to making products that not only taste great, but promote a more biodiverse planet. We hope that these emerging ingredients can inspire you too, as we continue to see the growing momentum of consumers caring about what makes up the food they eat, and how it impacts the world in which we live.
Sean Smyth is EVP, Strategy at Seed Strategy where he guides clients through the ambiguities of innovation by grounding the experience in solid principles that build certainty and confidence—often by defying established conventions.
Jeff Johns is SVP, Creative at Seed Strategy where he consistently delivers breakthrough creative at lightning speed across a wide range of best-in-class design practices: packaging, branding, shelf aisle optimization and advertising.