Many consumers have adopted a low-carb ketogenic diet in recent years as interest in healthy lifestyles has increased. Small startup companies have emerged to service the surging demand and some major food and beverage manufacturers have entered the keto market.
Interest in the category has skyrocketed. Launches of keto products doubled between June 2020 and May 2021, Food Navigator reported, citing data from Mintel’s Global New Product Database. New keto offerings accounted for 2.3% of all food and beverage products introduced in that period, compared with 1.2% of all product launches from June 2019 to May 2020.
Looking ahead at the next 12 months, a number of food industry observers and stakeholders are forecasting that the keto category will continue to shine as more innovative offerings come to market.
Ingredients suppliers Glanbia Nutritionals and Grande Custom Ingredients Group include keto in their rankings of the top diets for the year. 1,173 Registered Dietician Nutritionists (RDNs) recently surveyed by Pollack Communications and Today’s Dietician ranked the keto diet as the second most popular diet trend this year behind intermittent fasting. Flavors manufacturer Flavourchem says, “an uptick of new product releases [are] expected to hit store shelves in 2022.”
“The staggering volume of Google searches for keto snack options indicates continuing consumer interest in convenient, indulgent Keto-friendly eating choices,” Glanbia writes in its trends forecast for 2022. “Food manufacturers are paying attention, with products like Perfect Keto’s Banana Bread Keto Bars, Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips, and CHOMPS Grass Fed Beef Jerky Meat Snack Sticks becoming popular snacking choices.”
Several prominent food industry players entered the keto market or strengthened their existing foothold in the space in 2021. Conagra Brands introduced “Healthy Choice Zero” keto-friendly single-serve frozen meals in June, and the company debuted a new keto-friendly, zero sugar Reddi-wip whipped topping ahead of last Thanksgiving. Flour manufacturer Ardent Mills unveiled a new keto and low net carb flour blend last March. Hershey Co. closed its acquisition of keto-friendly confectionery firm Lily’s Sweets in mid-2021 Nestle Health Science announced in November that it is launching a study to see if a ketogenic nutritional supplement developed by the company is effective in reducing episodic migraines.
As this is happening, some smaller, niche companies that popped up to meet the needs of the keto market are expanding production and their reach. HighKey, a maker of keto snacks led by former General Mills executive Joe Ens, started selling its products in Costco stores last year. Distribution of Rebel Creamery keto ice cream expanded to many traditional grocery stores in the US during 2021. Powder & Bulk Solids anticipates that other startup brands that have grown in the market through direct sales to consumers will make further inroads at brick and mortar retailers.
“There has been an influx of keto products in the market and more will be coming next year ,” Joseph Chen, CEO of consulting firm Leo & Dragon told The Food Institute in a December post. “Consumers are becoming more familiar with keto products and want to have more control over their sugar intake.”
All of this bodes well for the future of the keto category. Large traditional food and beverage manufacturing firms can utilize their scale, production expertise, and marketing savvy to offer keto versions of traditional staples like cake mixes, as well as their expansive R&D capabilities to bring new, innovative products to consumers. There are also plenty of opportunities small- and medium-sized companies to capture market share with delicious, on-trend offerings.