Superfruits stage still set for new stars

The rise of the superfruit has been increasingly in evidence over the past decade, with growing consumer awareness of the health benefits associated with their high antioxidant content helping to drive activity. This has brought many little known fruits into the mainstream market for the first time, reflected in their growing use as ingredients and flavourings in a wide range of food and drinks products.

Innova Market Insights recorded a 10% rise in the number of product launches marketed on a superfruit platform in the year to the end of May 2011 over the previous 12-month period.

The soft drinks category saw the greatest number of launches, equivalent to nearly 40% of the total, primarily in the fruit drinks and wellness drinks arenas. But there were products with “superfruit” ingredients launched across most other sectors, led by confectionery, dairy products, fruit and vegetable products and desserts and ice cream.

In terms of types of fruit, pomegranate appears to have emerged as the leader, accounting for over 40% of the launches tracked containing a “superfruit” during the June 2010 to May 2011 period. Other fruits are also continuing to grow in popularity, including acai, goji and other berries.

In the US, Innova Market Insights the recorded highest levels of product activity in pomegranate, ahead of blueberry, although interest in acerola also appeared to be increasing, and there was ongoing interest in goji. UK launches were focused strongly on pomegranate and berries, particularly cranberries, blueberries and acai, while Germany has seen rising levels of interest in Sanddorn (seabuckthorn).

New fruits are emerging on the “superfruit” bandwagon, all focusing on high levels of antioxidants, often by comparison with levels in more established superfruits, and often moving into food and drinks following a period of launches in supplement form. The Maqui berry from Chile (Aristotelia chilensis), also known as the Chilean Wineberry, is one example of this trend.

Lu Ann Williams, Head of Research for Innova Market Insights notes that with so many different types of tropical and exotic fruits, it is difficult to predict where the new success stories will come from. But what is almost inescapable is that there will continue to be new varieties put forward as the market develops and these will have to compete alongside more established and familiar varieties.

“The ability to supply the quantities needed and market their multiple benefits successfully will be key to their future, as well as the willingness of mainstream food and drinks companies to take them up as ingredients in their products,” she concludes.

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