We’re not endorsing the nutritional seasonings being marketed as “foodceuticals” by their maker, VitaminSpice. But we’re intrigued by the idea behind these products. They would enable operators to accentuate the positive about some nutritional aspects of the food they serve, instead of being on the defensive about its fat and caloric content. Even the food police might find something to like about this approach.
We know the idea of adding nutritional supplements to a basic offering has been a staple in the smoothie industry for years. Plenty of customers are willing to pay extra to have protein powder, vitamins, flaxseed and other good-for-you substances blended into their drinks, even the drinks othat have admirable nutritional profiles in the first place.
For example, smoothie segment player Jamba Juice makes a steady buck just selling standalone “shots” (i.e., matcha green tea blended with orange juice or soymilk; a wheatgrass detox combo). An even-bigger part of its business are the “boosts” added to already-nutrient rich smoothies. The boost lineup includes such items as “Heart Happy,” which contains plant sterols meant to block the absorption of cholesterol; “Immunity,” which offers big doses of vitamin C and zinc; “Daily Vitamin,” with 22 essential vitamins and minerals, 18 of which supply100 percent of the customer’s recommended daily requirement; and the mega-3 fatty acid-rich “Flax & Fiber Boost.”
But those are drinks. How about food? That’s what the VitaminSpice people aim to explore with its six-item lineup of nutritionally enhanced seasoning products. The fledgling company is now selling ground cinnamon, granulated garlic, crushed red pepper, sea salt, Italian seasoning and ground pepper that are each enhanced with a multivitamin blend. “Just half a teaspoon provides at least 50 percent of many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs daily,” claims the company’s website.
The vitamin lineup and the percentage of recommended daily allowance present in a half-teaspoon serving is:
- Vitamin C, 82%
- Niacin, 54%
- Pantothenic Acid, 54%
- Pyridoxine, 54%
- Riboflavin, 54%
- Thiamin, 54%
- Folic Acid, 54 %
- Vitamin B12, 22%
On the purity side, these spices contain no preservatives, no wheat, no gluten, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors, no corn, no yeast, and no animal products.
The marketing potential here could be huge in two ways. Operators could use these spices to further enhance the nutritional profile of their intrinsically healthful menu items. Or they could employ them to create a nutritional halo around menu items classified as less healthful. Either approach gives you a way to attract new customers or sell higher-margin menu items to existing ones.
Or maybe foodceuticals would work to keep your restaurant’s head above water until the economy turns around. For example, taking a cue from Jamba Juice’s “Immunity” boost, an enterprising operator could offer “Flu Fighter French Fries” by adding a custom-formulated vitamin C and zinc package to the seasoning they shake on their French fries. And why not “Vitamin Pizza?”
Alternatively, we can see creating an entire restaurant concept around this idea, at least in certain markets.
Of course, any food served with a vitamin-enhanced seasoning has to taste good in the first place. We haven’t tried anything from VitaminSpice’s product line, so we don’t know how well it would perform in a commercial foodservice context. Certainly the price shown on the company’s website—$8 for 3.4 ounces—would have to come way, way down if VitaminSpice wants to catch on in the restaurant world. Another caveat: you can only cook and bake with these spices up to 300 degrees, so they are best used on already prepared foods.
But the company is definitely on to something with the idea of adding nutritional boosts to savory dishes. The smoothie industry has shown us that people will pay extra for similar boosts. Maybe the restaurant industry is next.