From: Dairy Foods, March 2010
By: Donna Berry, Product Development Editor
With an increasing number of consumers focusing on health and wellness, food and beverage formulators are incorporating different varieties of superfruits – an elite group of nutrient-rich fruits recognized as possessing beneficial health properties – into new products. In the dairy category, sometimes the superfruit reinforces a functional product’s healthy image, as in the case of yogurt. Other times superfruits provide permission to indulge, as when they are added to ice cream.
The wild blueberry industry pioneered the world of superfruits in the mid-1990s. Though the term was not coined until the 21st century, the wild blueberry folks were the first to promote the antioxidants and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of fruit, according to John Sauve, managing partner, Swardlick Marketing Group, Portland, Maine, and a consultant to the Wild Blueberry Association. The term superfruit came around in 2004 when Superfoods Rx author Steven Pratt highlighted the antioxidant levels and anti-aging properties of blueberries in his bestseller. And though blueberries are most likely the best-known superfruit today, the list of superfruits is constantly growing, and ranges from the obvious (apple) to the exotic (camu camu).
To gain a better understanding of this evolving category, Dairy Foods talked to 11 experts in the superfruits industry. Here’s what they had to say.
Dairy Foods: What makes a fruit super?
Przybylowski: Traditionally superfruits have been high antioxidant- containing fruits. Today, a superfruit can be defined as any
Mulhausen: Although superfruit is a term developed for marketing purposes, the very factual, scientific benefits of the rich nutrients within these foods, particularly antioxidants, is undeniable. The term superfruit has gained meaning and popularity with the health-conscious food and beverage consumer.
Degen: Superfruits are all about antioxidant capacity (measured as its ORAC value) and phenolic composition. Much of the ORAC interest is found in blue- and red-colored fruits that contain high levels of phenols in their skin and pulp. In addition to the consumer’s perception of a superfruit providing some sort of antioxidant benefit, there is also the emphasis on natural. As a food ingredient, the California Dried Plum Board has gone a step further by emphasizing to food processors that the value of dried plums’ antioxidants is more functional and leads to extended food product shelf life by serving as an antimicrobial agent, particularly in animal proteins. More importantly, the antioxidant activity of dried plums works in concert with other benefits, such as moisture retention (due to high levels of fiber and sorbitol in dried plums) and flavor improvement (due to malic acid) to yield functional benefits derived from natural ingredients.
Dairy Foods: What are some superfruits your company sells?
Mulhausen: We use our expertise in fruit sourcing and purchasing to secure superfruit supplies in order to meet the quickly expanding consumer demand for healthy, nutrient-rich products across numerous food and beverage applications, such as yogurt fruit prep and ice cream bases. We’ve been offering old and new favorites, such as pomegranate, blueberry, black currant, açaí and cranberry since the superfruit trend began. As a custom developer of stand-alone flavors and bases, we stay on the cutting edge of new flavor trends. We’re constantly taking a proactive approach to the market, and place great importance on offering new and emerging superfruit flavors and bases, such as gogi berry, yumberry, mangosteen, plum and maqui berry.
Sundaresan: Guava, mango, banana — these are the superfruits that have been in the market for a long time. Recently recognized superfruits include açaí, mangosteen, acerola, camu camu and papaya, with many more fruits emerging as being “super.”