Superfruits are known for their antioxidant power and health and wellness properties. They come in all shapes, sizes and flavors, and can be found all around the world. There has been much discussion about the exotic superfruits like mangosteen, acai, goji, noni and camu camu, just to name a few, but as of late there has been a resurgence of those familiar superfruits that have been available to consumers all along.
Nirvana Chapman, global food science trend analyst at Mintel, says that the superfruit trend is returning to those fruits that are more readily available in North America, such as blueberries, cranberries, sour cherries and pomegranates. Chapman explains that the pull away from the exotic superfruits has to do with what, in some cases, has been unreliable health claims. “A lot of it is driven by the fact that some of the science behind it was a little bit shaky in terms of the actual antioxidant content,” she says, “as well as consumers, at least in North America and Europe, not being familiar with the fruit because it was not available in its fresh state.”
Susan Tracey, marketing manager for Ottens, says that she has also seen a trend away from exotic superfruits. “We believe superfruits have lost some of their healthy halo luster, but are still relevant in terms of product development. In the end, taste will ultimately trump most claims to improve well being as consumers see little to no difference in their health. However, we feel the industry will continue to incorporate superfruit flavors into product development in order to differentiate and entice consumers.”
According to Mintel research, factors influencing choice of smoothie brands in the United States are driven by taste and health benefits. Out of orange juice, apple juice, grape juice, cranberry, pomegranate and açai, consumers 18 and over chose orange juice for both taste (71 percent) and flavor (60 percent). Acai ranked last on the list of fruits with 12 percent choosing it for taste and 17 percent choosing it for flavor. Along with orange juice, consumers also favored cranberry juice (44 percent), apple juice (40 percent), and grape juice (36 percent) for their health benefits.
Tracey adds, “We feel berries will continue to dominate in 2013. We’ll see mixed and wild berry profiles, which tie into the ‘back to nature’ and foraging trends that continue this year, as consumers are familiar with their profiles and trust them. Varietal berries such as saskatoon and huckleberry will provide provenance and distinction.”
Ottens offers several fruit lines with proven results in the beverage segment, according to the company. It has a full line of varietal berries that include boysenberry, huckleberry, saskatoon and mountainberry and field berry mixes. The company’s exotic fruit line features dragonfruit, jackfruit, lychee, passionfruit, papaya, starfruit, soursop, salak, mangosteen, yumberry, yuzu and rambutan. And its nutrafruit line includes maqui, açai, pomegranate, blueberry, cranberry and goji. All can be obtained in natural form, liquid or dry, and are Kosher certified, Tracey says.
Another trend that experts are seeing is the blending of superfruits with other components, such as vegetables. Tyson Jones, sales and marketing manager for Döhler-Milne Aseptics LLC, says, “We are seeing a lot of people try to add a vegetable component into beverages to be able to round out the nutritional value of the beverage they are trying to create so they can say that it’s got so much of a serving of fruit and a serving of vegetables.”
Döhler-Milne Aseptics LLC offers its customers a customized solution, says Jones, adding that the company grows a lot of its own fruits and can help formulate beverages based on nutritional parameters, flavor parameters or target audiences.
Jones adds that along with cranberry and blueberry, Concord grape is another superfruit that he sees becoming more popular.
And according to Mintel, cherry is emerging as a superfruit with a number of juice brands including Welch’s, which is introducing cherry juice blends. The market research firm reports that Germany is a leading market for new cherry product introductions. The health benefits of cherries are helping to reduce inflammation, aiding in recovery after exercise and sour cherry has melatonin content, which can help aid in sleep.
Another trend Chapman sees is an emphasis on whole grains, such as chia, quinoa, barley, and oats. “Some of these whole grains don’t just have antioxidants,” she says. “These products are really nutrient dense so they are able to make an enhanced claim of nutrients over other fruits and vegetables, without it being something that sounds so exotic that consumers can’t identify with it.”
Globally, Chapman says grains like chia are being used more often in beverages as it offers a thickening agent and can also be tied into beverages looking to make satiety claims.
While elements like satiety appeal to adults, Jessica R. Jones-Dille, associate director, marketing for Wild Flavors, Inc., says she sees superfruit flavors appearing in more children’s products. “Superfruits are popular in baby foods, with target ages from infants (six months-plus) to toddlers, and in yogurts, and even candies,” she says. “This was not something that we saw five years ago, and I think we will begin to see these flavors in even more kids’ products as they become accustomed to the flavor varieties and taste attributes.”
Wild Flavors offers a complete range of natural superfruit flavors to meet many different beverage applications, the company says.