KANSAS CITY – Hailed as a nutrient-rich powerhouse, kale is cropping up in more products, according to data from Innova Market Insights. Manufacturers are tossing the salad green into anything from soft drinks to snacks. The number of packaged food and drinks featuring kale has risen in recent years, with 60% of global product launches in 2012 coming from the United States.

“More recently rising interest in healthy eating and wintertime availability have regenerated interest in its use, supported by a growing presence on restaurant menus and ongoing promotional activity by TV chefs,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights.

Kale chips are sprouting up on supermarket shelves from such companies as Brad’s Raw Foods, which produces a line of vegan kale chips in sweet and savory flavors. Trader Joe’s last year introduced a spinach and kale Greek yogurt dip and a frozen spinach and kale pie.

This year’s introductions include an organic spicy black bean and kale soup from Pacific Foods and a children’s kefir smoothie from Lifeway Foods, Inc.

Kale’s many applications extend to food service, where the vegetable is served steamed, fresh, braised and in pesto sauce. Jamba, Inc. is adding kale to its smoothie ingredients this year.