Waitrose reveals seaweed is set to be the must-have ingredient of 2021 – with sales up 23% when compared to last year and up an impressive 71% increase when compared to 2018.
Flavor-filled and versatile, seaweed is fast-becoming a store cupboard staple for scratch cooks. As well as being used as a fragrant garnish for noodle dishes, it can also be used to make a wonderful crispy side salad or to create an umami-rich dressing.
Customers are also looking for inspiration on Waitrose.com, with searches for ‘seaweed’ up 141% compared last year and searches for ‘crispy seaweed’ up 18%.
As well as adding depth of flavor to a number of dishes, seaweed has a myriad of health benefits. A recent article in Waitrose Health Magazine noted studies in the Journal of Applied Phycology and Marine Drugs have linked it with reduced cholesterol levels and blood clotting, as well as the maintenance of healthy blood pressure.
“Seaweed is a source of iodine, which supports thyroid and cognitive function,” says Anna Daniels of the British Dietetic Association (@TheDietitian) speaking to Waitrose Health Magazine. “Its rich nutrient profile includes carbohydrate, fiber, and protein, as well as iron; B vitamins; manganese; copper; vitamins A, C, E and K; zinc; potassium and magnesium. Vegans find it useful as “a source of amino acids, calcium and omega-3 essential fatty acids”.
Jenna Doran-Twyford, Cooks Ingredients private brand Buyer at Waitrose comments, “Seaweed is an incredibly versatile ingredient and it’s great that customers are becoming more aware of its uses. We’ve noticed our customers wanting to understand the true nutritional value of what they are eating, as well as becoming more adventurous in the kitchen. By trying out different cuisines, we expect seaweed will continue to grow in popularity and our Cooks’ Ingredients (private brand) range aims to introduce budding home-cooks to new and exciting culinary trends and we are glad they have embraced seaweed so quickly.”
The recent Waitrose Food and Drink Report reported that the overall influence of Asian ingredients was becoming ever more present, with store cupboard essentials from Asia reported as the fastest growing of the Cooks’ Ingredients private brand range.