A US start-up has launched a range of sweet hummus designed to be eaten as a dessert. Delighted By has transformed the chickpea dip by removing the garlic and olive oil used in traditional recipes and replacing them with ingredients like coconut sugar, coconut oil, raw turbinado, cocoa powder and ground vanilla beans.

The range is available in four indulgent flavours—snickerdoodle, brownie batter, vanilla and choc-o-mint—but is also positioned as a healthier alternative to the desserts it aims to replicate. All products are vegan-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free and non-GMO, allowing consumers to indulge “consciously” and “guilt-free”, according to the brand.

44% of Americans purchased hummus in 2016.

Hummus is now an American favourite

Hummus is one of the most popular dips in the US. The Eastern Mediterranean dish has moved from a niche, ethnic food primarily enjoyed by immigrant communities from that region, to a national staple, rivalling salsa and guacamole in snacking and sharing occasions. According to Mintel’s latest US report on chips and dips, 44% of Americans purchased hummus in the six months to November 2016, with usage peaking among Millennials at 57%. The chickpea has benefited from its image as a healthier and convenient snack among this generation, with relatively high protein content for a carbohydrate, and little saturated fat.

Hummus takes a walk on the sweet side

Delighted By is attempting to radically change perceptions of hummus in the US by positioning it as a dessert, with the sweetened dip touted as a healthier alternative to cookie dough. If successful, this could herald the beginning of a new revenue stream for manufacturers of hummus, boosting volume sales by extending consumption to a new occasion.

Rising obesity may have slowed growth in the US dessert market in recent years as health-related concerns increase and consumers place greater emphasis on their food choices. But the US dessert market is still worth an estimated $4.4 billion in 2017, and consumers have shown a continued willingness to splurge on indulgent treats to satisfy their sweet cravings.

Americans may be continuing to indulge in desserts, but many look for better-for-you options during the occasion to alleviate themselves of some guilt. This search for permissibility has been seen across indulgence-driven categories over recent years, from ice cream, to cookies, to confectionery. For example, Mintel research shows that 38% of cookie buyers say health-focused products are worth paying more for, 20% of consumers are willing to pay more for healthier chocolate, and only 10% of frozen treat buyers avoid healthier versions because desserts are meant to be treats.

What we think

Pushing hummus into the dessert occasion may raise eyebrows at first, but the dip’s healthy image could appeal to the growing number of US consumers searching for permissibility in indulgence-led categories. Delighted By promises consumers a guilt-free product that has the flavour of cookie dough and the nutritional benefits of hummus, with this balanced approach likely to be popular in a market where consumers are torn between their conscience and sweet cravings. Marketing sweet hummus as a dairy-free alternative to cookie dough is also likely to attract attention as more consumers adopt free-from diets, particularly among Millennials, who are the prime consumers of hummus.

Edward Bergen is a Global Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel with experience in identifying and analysing FMCG trends worldwide, and how these can be applied to different markets and categories for new product innovation and development.

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