Category Archives: Health

EYE : Comvita – opening on Portobello Road

A new store opening soon on Portobello is New Zealand based natural health company, Comvita. It seems an odd choice of location to me, but I wish them well in their venture as I really like the ethos behind the brand and the products / ranges look really good.

RETAIL INNOVATION : Milk Dispenser : Tus Supermarket, Sezana, Slovenia

A cute way to get your pint in the morning.  From what I can gather this milk dispenser outside Tus supermarket in Slovenia churns out fresh milk for 1 Euro per litre – there’s also information on the time and date it was milked.

PRODUCT WATCH : Update : Neuro Drinks

In my Product Watch from LA I blogged about an interesting functional drink range called Neuro.  When I went into Selfridges at the weekend I couldn’t help but notice that they’ve now entered the UK market…just check out the colourful display.

One thing I didn’t mention in my initial post is that they offer junior versions of their drinks – ‘neuro junior’ – I haven’t seen this in a drinks range before. 

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Neuro drinks stand at Selfridges, London

PRODUCT WATCH : LA : Beverages

What’s happening in LA? : Beverages @ Wholefoods / grocery stores

1. Ayala’s Herbal Water The herbs in this beverage serve as flavouring rather than a health benefit which is a shame.  

2. Quinoa Gold Quinoa is only just starting to be recognized as a healthy food in the UK – although I’m not sure if many Brits could tell you exactly what it is and how you cook with it.  I’m only familiar with this grain as a baking / salad ingredient so I was interested to see it being used in a beverage (the new rice milk?). Claims to be the only beverage made with Quinoa.  The grain is high protein, antioxidant and contains “all 9 essential amino acids for life”.

3. Grainiassance Amazake Rice Shake Rice drinks go more decadent and almost meal replacements with tempting flavours such as Cool Cocunut with Almonds, Vanilla Gorilla and Tiger Chai. Made from organic whole grain brown rice. 

4. GT Kombucha & Synergy Teas made from a superfood kind of fungus.  Contain probiotics (as well as a host of other healthful ingredients).  Liked the packaging.

5. FloraVita 2000 An infusion of fruits and berries with flower of the black elder tree.  Claims to have anti-viral properties. 

6. Goodbelly Probiotic Fruit Drinks Dairy-free probiotic drinks with added multivitamin – carton sized as well as grab and go-s.  Nice identity. 

7. So Delicious Coconut Milk Move over soy – there’s a new product in the milk aisle! Loving the idea of coconut milk as a milk substitute…I wonder if it’s too sickly to make a latte out of? I also saw ice cream and yoghurt made out of coconut milk (Turtle Mountain range and Larry and Luna’s Organic Coconut Bliss)

8. Neuro Drinks A range of functional drinks with an eye catching if not slightly showergel kind of bottle design.  There are 7 different variants each with their own benefit – these range from weightloss and hydration to mental alertness and improved libido.  The Neuro Bliss variant which “promotes relaxation and improves mood” contains one of my all time favourite and under used supplements, Rhodiola Rosea.

Trends for the UK?

Of the trends and concepts above I think probiotic drinks and functional drinks (especially for cognitive enhancement) will go mainstream here.  I’m also thinking that the terms ‘anti-viral’ / anti-bacterial’ may become more commonly used (desired) when describing health benefits.

LA drinks

Ayala's Herbal Water, Quinoa Gold, Amazake Rice Shake, GT Kombucha

La Drinks 2

GT Synergy, Floravita2000, Goodbelly Probiotic Fruit Drink, So Delicious Coconut Milk, Neuro Sport

PRODUCT WATCH : LA : Crisps /snacking

What’s happening in LA? : Crisps/ snacks @ Wholefoods

1. Falafel chips – made with chickpeas, an apparently healthy crisp which is high in protein and Middle Eastern flavour. 

2. Hippie Chips with hemp (seed)- another healthy crisp option which claims to have 50% less fat than regular crisps.  I love the fun hippy name – very en vogue – but it’s a shame that they don’t offer some kind of omega benefit which hemp is known for. 

3. Glenny’s Soy Crisps – think these have been around for a while…low fat (s0me as low as 1g of fat per bag) and healthier than ‘regular’ crisps.

4. Dried Mulberries– look a bit like anaemic raspberries, apparently high in antioxidants including the resveratrol.

5. Terramazon Sachi Inchi – seeds from the fruit of a herbaceous vine native to the Amazon rainforest.  Rich in omega 3,6 and 9. 

6. Terramazon Yacon slices – melon tasting semi dried slices taken from the root of the Yacon plant.  Amongst other benefits these are prebiotic.

Snacks LAFalafel Chips, Hippie Chips with hemp, Glenny’s Soy Crisps, Terramazon Yacon slices

Fro-yo

Frozen yoghurt is big business in the US – particularly in SoCal where a mild weather lifestyle meets a health conscious consumer.  Despite issues with market saturation and the economic downturn, fro-yo still remains popular and it is slowly growing a fanbase in the UK with a number of joints popping up over London and the South East.  Frozen yoghurt is the ultimate healthy snack being (generally) fat-free, delicious and tastes kind of like ice cream.  Due to its frozen nature, it also takes a while to eat – so you get to indulge for longer and eat less calories than you would with a stack of biscuits or a chocolate bar.

Trends in the UK?

Whether we see soy or hemp crisps on our shelves or not, it’s certain that more innovative, healthier snack options will be available to the consumer soon. For example, take Pret founder Julian Metcalfe’s Skinny popcorn – at approx 3g of fat a bag, it’s a far better choice nutritionally than a packet of crisps – it tastes yummy too.  And with fro-yo – cute, small independent operations are opening up all over London – but might this extend to the big boys too? Sushi chain Itsu (another Julian Metcalfe venture) offers this healthy treat so could we see coffee chains or even McDonalds following suit?

VISUAL MERCHANDISING : Aesthetically Pleasing Food Offer @ Starbucks

I admit to being quite partial to my daily latte from Starbucks, but never have I been tempted by their food offer – cheap and nasty looking pastries in a soulless and uninspiring counter display.  How many people have I seen grab their morning coffee from Starbucks only to choose their breakfast treat from the Paul’s nearby (where the displays are beautiful and product authentic). 

But now Starbucks have done a re-haul with their food.  The Live Well range is a healthier and more wholesome affair with new products and better ingredients…but what’s interesting is how appealing and stylish it looks thanks to a chic but really simple black design theme – which includes the pack, marketing material and cleverly, the black ‘boards’ which the products sit on.  It’s so effective that I catch myself staring at the food and contemplating a purchase.  On the occasions that I’ve visited, the counters have been pretty empty so I’m wondering if I’m not alone with these thoughts!

Starbucks display

PRODUCT WATCH : MILK : Italy

Trends in milk:

1 – Functional milk – milk with clear health benefits seem to be popular in Italy.

Milk Italy

CITY REPORT : Cape Town

David Jennings

I’ve been in Cape Town this last week and true to Jessie style I’ve been spending a lot of time in supermarkets, markets, stores and malls looking at product and design.  As for scene-soaking and people-watching, I made the most of the cafes, restaurants and bars of the city..it was a tough job.

My observations 

Design

Interior homes / restaurants / hotels / spas etc (excluding retail) – Super impressed by the good taste and quality of decor of nearly everywhere visited. ‘Cape Town Chic’ is kind of smart whites and neutrals with a beachy theme. 

Some examples of Cape Town Chic

Some examples of Cape Town Chic

Architecture – Jaw dropping in areas such as Camps Bay and Llandudno beach (think uber modern / glass/ concrete beach houses set into cliffs looking over a bay… the type of properties that you’ll never ever own).  I noticed that the whole city is under a lot of construction, with the new builds (flats or houses) all displaying a similar, very striking, very modern look.  

Fashion – I was warned not to get excited about clothes shopping in South Africa but I wasn’t put off since I love the challenge of discovering things that no-one else does.  But was I challenged!  The merchandise on offer reminded me of the stuff we used to buy pre-Top Shop going cool.  The stores are trying to be trendy but in a trashy and young way.  My only joy (and it was a real joy) was discovering Urban Degree (website not up and running yet as seems to be the case with a lot of business in SA).  This store is gorgeous – beautiful simple clothing for men and women offered in neutral and pastel colorways.  The interior is fresh and neutral and I loved the display for the shoes and jewellery – really girly and pretty.  I purchased some fab sandals for about £20 – if my boyfriend wasn’t looking quite so bored I would have bought the gold version too…plus I would have tried on the funky canvas ballet slippers which came in a range of pastel colours.  I really liked the floral print on them – nice design detail.

urban-degree

Nice display at Urban Degree

A special mention goes to Jenni Button – a higher-end store for women – which I visited whilst in the Canal Walk mall.  I really liked the wood detail on one side of the store : floor to ceiling reclaimed planks in a darkish grey colour which had been washed with what seemed like a very pale silver.  It doesn’t sound like much but the slightly shimmering effect of silver over the rough, old planks is really effective (unfortunately no piccs of this).

Food and drink

It appears that Capetonians are really health minded.  Seemingly popular chains such as Kauai  and Soma offer juices, smoothies, salads, wraps etc.  I was especially impressed with the drink offer at Kauai such as the ‘floo fighter’ drink which includes fresh ginger, lemon, mint tea, honey and cayenne pepper or how about ‘Appledesiac’ – which contains hot apple, honey and ginger.  On the food side, at Sumo you can choose anchovy or mozzarella as a spread for your morning toast along with more ‘normal’ choices such as jam, honey and marmite.

Other healthy fare I spotted on menus was butternut squash (roasted, and featuring heavily in salads), grilled line fish, sushi, chai, roobois (obviously), and lots of low fat Bulgarian yoghurt (must look up why Bulgarian).  I also noticed that supermarket milk is labelled as rBST-hormone free. 

Less healthy but equally yummy….I saw a lot of hot or iced chocolate on offer in cafes – nearly always made with Lindt chocolate. I wonder why Lindt has the monopoly in Cape Town?

My favourite supermarket had to be Woolworths.  It’s basically a South African M&S – smart, chic, high quality with loads of food and products you just want to coo over.  I did some research and discovered that Woolworths have or have had had a link with M&S for the last 6 decades -which explains a lot.  Despite some shameless similarities in both packaging and product I noticed that in the South African chain, the offer is far more health-related  with products displaying clear health benefits on packaging.  Take a look at the bread choice in the picture below, could you imagine seeing this in every M&S in the UK? What would us Brits would make of Selenium bread? The other functional breads in the range are more commercial and could be successful in our market. I’d certainly buy all of these…although I am a health nut!  Other notable ‘health’ categories include cereals (‘hi-energy variants’, sports imagery on packs), dried fruit (suphur dioxide free) and yoghurts (big on probiotics) etc.

bread

Healthy bread choice at Woolworths

 

And despite the healthiness and some pioneering food offerings some quirks surprised me : At Vida e Caffe, the super funky coffee chain which is soon to be opening in London’s Regent Street (yay!), they don’t offer fat free milk.  In fact what they call ‘skinny’ is our semi-skimmed milk.  This was the case pretty much everywhere.  I ended up buying my own carton of fat-free milk and asking the baristas to make me up latte with it – they found this hysterical and a completely alien concept!  I wonder if they will be offering skinny in their London branches.  A few extra details worth mentioning from this cool outpost….Firstly, the lattes were never luke warm as they can be with Starbucks sometimes.  The reason? They steam the inside of the cup with water before pouring in the milk.  I never once had to ask for my latte ‘extra hot’. On an eco note, I noticed they used milk bags instead of those giant plastic milk cartons commonly used in the coffee chains in this country. And finally, they serve alcohol! I’ve always longed to mix coffee and alcohol together – a concept which gets away from English pub-ing but still promotes ‘going for a drink’ ie. you can catch up with a girl-friend and one of you has a beer / cocktail and the other a coffee. Far more cosmopolitan I think.

And what about the food in Cape Town? Menus were strong on fish – a real bonus as it’s my favourite food but what’s with all the heavy sauces, or worst still  -Cajun spices?  I have Italian roots and I really believe that this kind of food is best served simply – olive oil, maybe lemon, rosemary, herbs etc.  I hate to be the difficult customer, but I found myself having to alter and hold everything with so many meals.  

The food and drinks scene is buzzing, and the choice is far superior to what we have in London. You get the sense that Capetonians are very proud of their produce and restaurants and I applaud that passion. Maybe I had bad luck with my restaurant choices, but what I would say is that if  the food was as good as the decor, location and vibe of their establishments, Cape Town would be up there with the best places in the world to eat.

On a final food note, I would like to give a special mention to a little bakery chain called ‘Knead’ – particularly the Muizenburg branch – which I felt was one of the most impressive eating concepts I experienced.  The menu is centred around their bakery bread which is completely yummy and wholesome. You can make your own breadboards or choose between sandwiches and salads but what stood out were the thin crust pizzas which come with crushed garlic and chilli sauces on the side.  So light and tasty. 

London could do with a place like this.

Knead pizza

Knead pizza - check out the garlic and chili detail. Nice.

 

My final comments concern one of my favourite things in Cape Town – the Neighbourgoods Market which takes place every Saturday in the Woodstock area. It’s a complete foodies delight of beautiful farmer’s produce,  gourmand/ artisan and healthy goods such as shitake bread, olive oils, nut honeys, cupcakes, coffee,  smoothies etc  If you’re feeling extravagant feast on oysters and champagne from the chic little stalls or buy a creation from the award-winning chef from winelands restaurant, La Colombe .  There are also fashion areas, as well as several boutiques selling decor bits that you just so want to take home with you (notably Plush Bazaar). This is a truly awesome example of a farmers and food market and just what I’ve always visualized markets of this kind to be like – full of  passion and creativity.  I find our home grown affairs or even so called trendy markets such as Portobello generally disappointing.

neighbourgoods

A selection of images from the Neighbourgoods Market. Photos courtesy of the Neighbourgoods Market

David Jennings