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In 2008, flax was all the rage among health-conscious consumers. Declarations of its near-magical powers significantly boosted consumer recognition of this cancer-preventing, menopause-easing superfood.

Cooking shows made classic baked goods healthier with the incorporation of flaxseed. Magazines urged consumers to sprinkle it on their cereal and yogurt for an added health boost. Boasting high fiber and omega-3 content, flaxseed was the darling of the health food movement.

Flaxseed gained household recognition and, in the process, lost a hint of its luster. As the novelty wore off, health food experts and early adopters sought the next big thing (after all, being a trendsetter among one’s peer group has yet to go out of style).

Enter the chia seed.

Most remember chia seeds from the Chia Pet trend of the ’80s and ’90s. In 2012, chia seeds gained prominence for more than covering clay animals with sprouts. Recognized for their function and benefits as a food, chia seeds began making their way into the kitchens of early adopters in the health and wellness community.

In a society where mini is the new major, chia seeds have earned appeal by providing approximately twice the fiber and protein of a comparable portion of ground flaxseed. Where a tablespoon of ground flaxseed has 36 calories, 1.6g of protein, 2.2g of fiber, and 3.3g of fat,¹ the same measure of chia seeds contains 60 calories, 3g of protein, 5g of fiber, and 3g of fat.²

While flaxseed remains in the health food lexicon, nutritional experts now promote chia seeds as the topping of choice for oatmeal and yogurt. Chia is the new flax. Chia seeds are gaining mass awareness—even a cool factor—but they, too, will peak before undoubtedly dipping as they transition from specialty store shelves to common grocery store aisles. While the limelight will eventually glamorize a new superfood trend, when that time comes, chia seeds will have already gained general market recognition and a loyal following. How chia seed producers and retailers capitalize on their moment in the superfood spotlight is a matter of marketing.

At MarketPlace, we predict, track, and advance trends in food and culture. As a food marketing agency, we know marketing, but what differentiates us is our knowledge and passion for food. We commit ourselves to actively developing our expertise in the food, beverage, and ingredients industries. With our thorough understanding of the relationship between consumers and the foods they consume, MarketPlace makes food brands memorable.

¹ “The Scoop on Flaxseed.” Office of Health Education & Promotion. University of New Hampshire. Web. 12 November 2012.

² MacVean, Mary. “Chia seeds are popular again – this time for nutrition.” Los Angeles Times. 2 June 2012. Web. 12 November 2012.

Nicole Hill assists clients in growing their businesses and brands by identifying opportunities, then developing and implementing goal-driven strategies.