MINTEL | The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is a specialised low-carbohydrate, moderate protein, high-fat diet that, according to Mintel research, is moving from niche to fad at a time when consumers are questioning the roles sugar and fat play in weight management. As with many diet plans, following a ketogenic diet requires dedication, careful meal planning, and often demands a high level of nutrition knowledge in order to follow it correctly. Brands can appeal to consumers who are interested in trying a keto diet by providing keto-friendly products that are easy to use and help simplify the diet’s nutritional principles.
Keto is still niche but there is potential for growth
Keto-friendly food and drink products are still niche, with many of these products developed for sports nutrition. However, as the diet moves into the mainstream, new offerings are becoming available. Since following a low-carb diet can impact electrolyte balance, low-carb foods that also provide a boost of sodium (such as jerky, bacon, pork rinds and cracklings) could be successfully repositioned as keto-friendly snacks.
As a lifestyle regime, keto is becoming more than just another low carb diet. While its original focus was on macro intakes, today’s keto options encompass aspects of free-from and clean-label diets. Keto certifications are also emerging, including Certified Ketogenic and Paleo Foundation Certified Keto. These certifications will appeal to lifestyle users who see keto as an extension of the paleo diet or a clean label diet. Certifications can be used to help consumers find products suitable for the keto-lifestyle and ones that align with their lifestyle goals.
Keto and clean eating are made for each other
As the word “clean” becomes synonymous with healthy, products suitable for dieters will need to go beyond calories and macronutrients and incorporate the other attributes that make a product healthy in the eyes of consumers. For example, in the US, two in five consumers who are currently trying to lose weight agree that “no artificial ingredients” is an important claim on food and drink products.
Manufacturers of keto-friendly products should consider using clean-label related claims, including organic, GMO-free, and no additives/preservatives to appeal to lifestyle users. Globally, food and drink products using free-from related claims have been on the rise over the past five years – In fact, free-from claims have increased internationally by 111% between 2013 and 2017.
What brands should do
As the keto diet becomes more mainstream, manufacturers should look to develop keto-friendly products to help consumers follow this challenging diet. Possibilities include the use of healthy fats, low-carb ingredients and to align with clean label principles in order to appeal to consumers who are looking to use the keto diet as part of a healthy lifestyle. Further, brands should consider making macronutrient information easier to understand by including a product’s macro profile. Lastly, manufacturers could capitalize on the trend by simply providing recipe suggestions for ways to use existing products in a keto-friendly diet.
Stephanie Mattucci is the Associate Director, Food Science at Mintel. Prior to Mintel, Stephanie worked as a food scientist in R&D for an ingredients company.