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AI-based Ideation: Fermented honey

What is it?

Fermented honey, also known as baker’s honey, is raw, unpasteurized honey which ferments when the moisture balance is disturbed.

Raw honey that hasn’t been pasteurized contains live yeasts and enzymes, allowing for it to easily ferment in warm temperatures. It can be further controlled with the addition of water.

Fermented honey has a higher moisture content than most honeys, allowing natural, sugar tolerant yeasts to grow and enzymes to start the fermentation process.

It has a rich, sharp taste and aroma, a soft texture and is often frothy, making the taste and consistency ideal for alcoholic beverages such as mead, as well as desserts, condiments and soft drinks.

This versatile ingredient could also be a great addition to breakfasts. By pairing the probiotic – fermented honey and yoghurt – with prebiotic fruits/cereals, it could be viewed as an added ‘boost’ for the gut microbiome.

UK interest in gut health, which is keenly linked to fermentation, is up 62% YoY (Tastewise). Indeed, gut health is currently the number one functional motivation for fermented food and drink.

So, does AI-based consumer data indicate that fermented honey has promise for development teams wanting explore beyond the ordinary?

What does the Tastewise AI-based trend data say about fermented honey?

Fermented honey’ currently has only diminutive penetration on UK menus, and appears in <1% of social discussions – but these conversations are rising +32.24% on average (MoM).

When positioned as ‘gut health honey’, there is a slight increase in menu penetration (and social discussions):

Again, the above graph shows only a small proportion of menus that mention ‘gut health honey’ (<1%), but there is a greater monthly average change of +88.6% – suggesting promising growth when adding gut-health connotations to menus.

There has been a steady incline in both social conversations and UK menus since June ‘20, with a small increase in social discussions from December ‘20 to February ‘21 from 0.02% to just over 0.03%.

There was a small but notable rise for gut-health honey from October to November ‘20 on UK menus. The trendline plateaus in November (likely due to the third UK lockdown).

AI-based fermented honey motivations

Desserts are the top motivation for fermented honey – naturally pairing with the top flavour motivators, ‘sweet’ and ‘sour’.

Despite the small amount of available data, ‘on the go’ seems to be the closest challenger to ‘desserts’ in terms of UK consumer motivation, with ‘snack’ taking third spot.

Second to ‘gut health’ as a top motivator is ‘alcoholic’, suggesting cocktails or meads demonstrating use of fermented honey.

Where can I find fermented honey in retail?

You’ll likely find it within specialist shops and independent retailers; although it’s not yet in major retail, there is innovation in the fledgling fermented honey space, both in the UK and the US.

One small brand in the US using fermented honey as part of their sauces is Anya’s Apothekeré, delivering on three unique formats – fermented honey sauce with either organic onion, garlic or jalapeno.

Analysis: Ben Peatfield – Head of NPD

“While fermented honey surely has uses in the dessert space, where savoury and sweet are becoming ever intertwined; I can see potential opportunities for utilizing this type of honey in clearly savoury applications.

“Bringing interesting profiles to a dressing or condiment, for example.”

The Verdict

While still a niche ingredient in the UK, post-lockdown it could have the potential to differentiate in the realm of alcoholic drinks and menu development with its gut-health and sour/sweet cues.

However, it might be a while yet before it resonates with consumers in retail.

Hannah Atton
Hannah is a food and drink trend analyst, consultant and NPD expert. She was previously a cross-category product developer and trends researcher for Tesco, an NPD technologist at Bakkavor and freelance trend analyst for The Food People.

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