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Our top 10 picks for 2017

These aren’t brands which are necessarily brand new to 2017, rather representatives of the consumer trends and preferences we’ve spotted. 

Most focus on the wider issue of ‘health’, which is now permanently coupled to our food choices. The other big influence is our seemly insatiable exploration of flavour and the desire for more exciting and rarefied tastes.

Here’s our top ten:

1. What a melon (natural juice drink)  Watermelon juice is full of natural goodness that naturally hydrates and is perfect for the sporty types as it contains amino acid citruline that helps keep muscles strong. It also has a great taste.

It’s managed to achieve some good distribution in 2016 in places such as Planet Organic, Whole Foods, itsu and some Sainsbury’s stores.

We think it will quickly become more popular and beat the usual suspects in the natural juice sector. We think it needs a little TLC on how it presents itself but it has all the makings to be really successful.

2. Eat Grub Protein packed and from a wonderfully sustainable source. What’s not to like? Well, the bars are made from cricket powder so that idea may not appeal to everyone. Grub were not the first to market with their bars and the 2016 ‘Taste’ exhibition featured nine insect protein brands. (There were just two in 2015.) We must confess to having a bit of an inside track here as we work with owners Neil and Shami on their branding. 

The rise of new healthy food trends and consumers willingness to try new foods will help the Grub brand - particularly with two very determined entrepreneurs pushing it forward.

3. Firefly BBQ BBQ rubs are not new but we have noticed that our interest in flavoured meat has widened to include more complex flavour nominations. And many of these are routed in the culture of America’s Deep South outdoor cooking.

Firefly have developed these deep and intense flavours - and here’s the rub: all are made from store cupboard ingredients.

Firefly’s ambitious owners are in the right place at the right time to exploit this big flavour trend as consumers search to add interest and spice to their foods.   Currently the sector is lead by the better established brands like Sharwoods, and there is a big gap before you reach the small speciality brands. We think there’s a gap waiting to be filled. In this brand too we have a vested interest as we’re developing their branding and packaging.

4. Joe and Seph’s Popcorn is still the rage. Light snacks that are relatively healthy. And a joy to eat. All the major snack brands have a popcorn range and Joe and Seph’s have carved out their own niche. The trick Joe and Seph’s pulled off is in offering an impressive range of exotic and interesting flavours that would just want to make you try all of them. There’s 40 to get through!

We think that flavour, and the vast choice of flavours, as well as their clever marketing could see them become a more familiar popcorn brand.

5. Sibberi There appears to be an insatiable thirst for water (sorry), and we were wondering if the market was ready for more. But this is different. This is tree water. Tree water is pure sap and is described as like coconut water but the diet version. It has a sweet, crisp taste and comes from three types of tree - bamboo, maple and birch.  Full of natural goodies such as manganese and silica, this water not only refreshes but has some skin care benefits which goes well with those that want anything that’s potentially anti-ageing and isn’t full of chemicals.

The brand has both an educational and a health message to push, which will help it grow into a more mainstream water choice.

6. Nourish Kefir A group of enthusiastic dairy people in South London producing the ‘miracle milk’ that’s gluten-free and organic. Kefir is made from organic cows’ milk and kefir grains, naturally producing a multitude of bacteria that help to alleviate various gastro conditions. They have their own dairy and a really good range of products, and with good marketing they can make big strides in 2017. Kefir is a growing trend and there are a few brands out there that are using it as a main ingredient. But if Nourish Kefir can harness their enthusiasm and authenticity into their packaging and marketing then they can make the big breakthrough.

7. Raw Gorilla the raw movement is still ripe for development. Only launched in 2014, products are stocked by the likes of Whole Foods, Selfridges, As Nature Intended and distributed by the much respected Marigold Health Foods. And if you add the other underlying trends of sprouted, plant based and paleo then the Gorilla could be the King Kong of 2017. Then also layer on top of that the snacking trend and they have all the ingredients for success in 2017.

8. Abernathy Butter Great provenance meets passionate artisans. What was bad for us is now good for us. (Is this just information churn?) The ultimate artisan butter maker from Northern Ireland. They make fudge too in their spare time plus that have re-discovered ‘taste’ of smoke. Can this brand make it into more mainstream ‘specialist’ outlets on 2017?

9. Aduna Dietary health meets geographic curiosity

This brand has been seen on other 2015 and 2016 watch lists.

Aduna has a complicated message trying to introduce three new African super foods. Baobab, Moringa and Cacao. However, the brand has stuck like glue to their founder’s heart-felt beliefs and after three years maybe the investment on social branding will start to pay back. 

Baobab powder is interesting in that it can help manage blood sugar levels. So a core benefit given the health issues arising form first world western diets. And as other brand watchers have spotted the West is taking more interest in things African.

10. Coconut Merchant The rise and rise of the coconut. There’s nothing new about coconut but we feel it’s still too early to write off the rise of Coconut brands as just a fad.

Unlike other ‘super foods’ coconut manages to straddle two market sectors  - food and personal care. And unlike it’s challenger Aloe, coconut has an appealing taste and scent. It’s a super versatile super food.

Coconut Merchant not only have great contacts and experience with producers and farmers, they also have a strong social message.

They launched two new ranges in 2016 - Aqua Coco drink and CM La Vie beauty cream. Both designed by the team at wonderlandWPA. Which is why we know Coconut Merchant have exciting plans for 2017!

We’ll be reviewing our list during 2017…

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