Continuing shortages of popular ‘superfood’ ingredient chia were cited by researcher Euromonitor and major organic and natural foods supplier Hain Celestial as a growing issue in April and March. Hain Celestial says second half chia pricing was expected to be up 30% versus the first half due to higher demand and lower crop yield.

Ewa Hudson, global head of Health and Wellness Research, Euromonitor says chia has it all: nutrition, versatility, neutral taste and long shelf life, but that chia’s biggest challenge in overtaking flax seed is a supply bottleneck. “Native to South America, it is cultivated in this region and ideal growing conditions can only be achieved within 15 degrees of the equator,” she says. “Supplies were already tight but this season’s calamitous weather conditions decimated harvest yields in Argentina, Paraguay, Peru and Ecuador.”

At the BioFach 2013 show in Germany, leading European certified organic supplier Naturkost Ulbehor of Germany, which supplies the Sachia brand of organic chia, says there has been an issue of not enough product available to supply demand. However, Alejandro Palacio, general manager of Naturkost de Mexico, says Naturkost can increase production this year to supply more of the market for chia in the EU with the new law.

The European Commission made a decision on January 22 to authorize an extension of use of chia (Salvia hispanica) seed as a novel food ingredient beyond the 5% maximum content in bread products to 10% in a range of foods and pre-packaged seeds.

Chia seed is now allowed on the market at level of not more than 10% in baked products; breakfast cereals; fruit, nut and seed mixes; and as pre-packaged chia seeds sold to the final consumer at a recommended daily intake of not more than 15gms per day. The decision was made under Regulation (EC) No 258/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council.