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Keto Products

US: Rush of keto innovation spurred by popularity of the diet

The keto diet is undergoing a meteoric rise, and with it the market size is booming, as is keto innovation. In 2018, the global keto market was valued at $9.7-billion, and now it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% to reach $15.6-billion by 2027, according to The Insight Partners.

The low-carb, high-fat trend is also apparent in web browser search statistics. Search frequency for “keto” remains strong, according to Google Trends. In the US, there was an 850% increase in search volume between January 2016 and January 2020.

The ketogenic diet was identified as the most popular consumer diet for 2019, according to more than 1,300 dietitians surveyed in the seventh annual “What’s trending in nutrition” survey from Pollock Communications, New York, and Today’s Dietitian.

The keto diet is approximately 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables. By eating a lot of fat and few carbohydrates, the body is forced into a metabolic state known as ketosis. This is when the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy.

The liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, with the latter travelling to the brain and fueling the body, in the place of glucose from carbs. Burning ketones in place of glucose is associated with weight loss, reduced inflammation, sustained energy and more.

When food and beverage companies are creating keto products for consumers, nutrition is key, according to Kerry Group.

“Being on keto is not a free pass to eat all high fat foods, and to never touch another vegetable,” said Nathan Pratt, PhD, RD and nutrition scientist with Kerry.

In formulating new keto offerings, Pratt suggested four considerations for brands to make products that “optimise and enhance” the benefits of the keto diet:

  1. Include healthy fats, a majority of which should be unsaturated fats from plant oils.
  2. Saturated fats should be limited. [Much research contradicts this old paradigm, and read more here]
  3. Since people following the keto diet struggle to get enough fibre, fruits and vegetables, keto products could benefit from the addition of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and folate.
  4. Although traditional keto recommends no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day, keto has become more flexible over the last few years. Products in the general low-carb, high-fat range may be adopted by consumers who are lightly following the keto diet.

A low-carb/keto brand success story

A simple Google search inspired the latest product innovation from Enlightened, a brand of better-for-you ice cream and frozen desserts.

Michael Shoretz, founder and CEO of Beyond Better Foods, the parent company of Enlightened, recently discovered a common search term paired with the brand’s name was “keto.”

“That was a complete shift from about a year ago, when that search term didn’t even show up in our search results,” Shoretz told Food Business News. “When you’re searching for your own brand and seeing what’s new, and we just saw ‘keto’ jump to the top of the list, we said, ‘Wow, this is what people who are interested in Enlightened are actually looking for.’”

Roughly three months later, Enlightened Keto Collection ice cream pints and bars are shipping to thousands of stores nationwide, including Whole Foods Market, Publix, Stop & Shop and Shoprite.

Enlightened Keto Ice Cream

Pint flavours include butter pecan, chocolate glazed donut, coffee and cream, chocolate peanut butter, mint chocolate chunk, peanut butter fudge and red velvet. Bar flavours include dark chocolate, marshmallow peanut butter, mint chocolate chip and peanut butter chocolate chip.

Each serving contains less than one gram of sugar and one gram of net carbs. The products are sweetened with monk fruit and erythritol, like the brand’s original line of ice cream bars and pints.

Cream is used instead of skim milk to deliver a high-fat, low-carb nutritional profile to help consumers achieve ketosis, a metabolic state linked with weight loss and performance benefits.

Enlightened’s core portfolio of high-protein, low-sugar ice cream bars and pints are sold in more than 12,000 retail outlets, including Whole Foods, Kroger and Target. Available in dozens of flavours, the products contain 60 to 100 calories per serving with 6 to 8g of protein, 5g of fibre and 3g of sugar.


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