Chia: the superfood sweeping London

Heard of the superfood chia yet? If not, you soon will.

Market research firm Nielsen says the chia sector is growing at 239 per cent and will increase by up to 1.1 billion per cent by 2020, while research from Mintel tells us that in Europe, nearly 29 per cent of new chia product launches are in the UK. No surprise, then, that entrepreneurs have spied business opportunities in London, from selling packets of plain seeds to energy balls and libido-boosting cereals.

Chia, a plant from the mint family that develops black and white seeds and is mainly grown in central and south America and Australia, is recognised as a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, dietary fibre, B vitamins and minerals. When hydrated, it can also turn into a gel and so be used to plump up porridges and puddings and fill you up.

Bertel Haugen, sales manager at Raw Health, says that since chia seeds were approved for sale in the EU in 2009, the company’s chia products — which include nacho-style dippers, energy balls and crispbreads — “are selling incredibly well for us”. He estimates sales of the energy balls, mostly in London at health food shops as Planet Organic, Whole Foods Market and As Nature Intended, take in about £1,000 weekly.