Katya Witham
Katya Witham is Senior Food & Drink Analyst, identifying and exploring the major trends across various FMCG categories, giving invaluable insights into global markets.

While hummus has been a mainstay in UK supermarkets for some time, finding this Middle Eastern speciality in German grocery aisles is still no easy task. Yet, there are signs that hummus appears to be gaining popularity in the increasingly health-conscious German marketplace.

Once a niche product available primarily from health shops and ethnic stands run by immigrants from Greece, Turkey and the Middle East, hummus has recently made an appearance in the German grocery retail channel, including the major market players Edeka and Rewe. New product launch activity in Germany confirms this trend, with a more than 30% increase in the number of launches of hummus recorded in 2014 from 2013.

In recent years hummus has experienced significant growth in some Western European markets and the US. As well as market success, hummus is seen very much as an ‘on-trend’ food item for 2015 in many markets worldwide, as interest in Middle Eastern cuisine surges and the Mediterranean diet continues to receive praise for being good for health.

Despite this, Germans don’t eat a lot of hummus as it is still seen as an exotic food by many consumers. When asked what type of savoury spreads Germans had eaten, less than 10% of respondents indicated they ate hummus in 2014.

Yet despite hummus’ low household penetration, it has significant growth potential for a number of reasons…

Firstly, hummus is typically low in fat, high in fibre and protein as well as naturally gluten-free, so it resonates greatly with increasingly health-oriented German consumers who are looking for healthy and balanced snacks. Hummus is also useful in vegetarian and vegan diets, as it provides many essential nutrients, especially when eaten with read or vegetables.

Another reason is the trend away from savoury spreads that are made with fillers, stabilisers and oils, with a growing number of consumers demanding fresher and less processed products. Nearly two fifths of German savoury spread users state that additives, preservatives and colourings make spreads unappealing to them, while nearly two thirds of consumers find the high fat content of savoury spread unappealing. This is where hummus really stands out. It is a nutritious, light and all-natural alternative to the overall over-processed spreads and dips category.

Finally, greater consumer interest in ethnic-orientated and exotic flavours is likely to spur growth of the hummus category in Germany. In 2014 four in 10 German consumers expressed interest in trying savoury spreads with ethnic flavours, such as Moroccan, Turkish or African. This highlights the nation’s growing fondness for ethnic cuisines. Hummus can also take advantage of the growing Mediterranean foods marketplace in Germany.

Hummus yet to fully dip into flavour innovation

With flavour variety central to maintaining consumer interest in snack food, two fifths of German consumers indicated they like to see a wide variety of flavours when choosing a savoury spread, the hummus category offers much scope to introduce flavour diversity to consumers. Despite this interest, Germany is yet to fully embrace flavour innovation in the hummus segment.

However, as Germans do become more familiar with the dip, manufacturers are responding by bringing more products to the German market. Recent hummus launches have seen flavour combinations such as pesto, coriander, harissa and sesame. Even with these advances, it will likely take a while for hummus manufacturers to start exploring more adventurous flavours. German consumers will first have to overcome lack of acquaintance with the products, before moving on to more challenging flavour combinations.

In her role as a Senior Food & Drink Analyst Germany, Katya draws on her comprehensive knowledge of the German market to identify and explore the major trends across various FMCG categories and provides insights into the German market environment. Katya holds a Master degree in Business Administration from the German University of Saarland and is fluent in English, German and Russian.