Natural Foods Merchandiser

There must be 6 ways to launch a superfruit

Superfruits do not grow on trees, did you hear? Superfruits are not created in a lab, did you know? Superfruits do command “massive premiums” compared to most fruits--so what are they, exactly, and how do you hop on this soaring bandwagon?

Julian Mellentin, marketing guru and publisher of New Nutrition Business, counseled attendees at Nutracon on Thursday on the six key elements to superfruit success. To wit:

1. Sensory appeal: If you look at mangosteen, pomegranate or cranberry, none are available in whole form, really. You can take an unpleasant pomegranate and use the skills of a beverage formulator to put it into a form that tastes good and is adapted to Western tastes.

2. Novelty: People assume if you’re going to make a superfruit, it’s got to be a novelty. It’s not true. You do have to have novelty, but not the fruit itself. Rather, the novelty is in how the fruit is presented. A new variety or color can do it, or novelty in the way it’s consumed. Pomegranates have been eaten, albeit not very widely, since the 1950s, but it wasn’t until they were made into a drink did they take off--the novelty was delivering the fruit in a new format.

3. Convenience: This is an overwhelming requirement, which is why beverages and pills will remain the dominant format. One of the big berry growers discovered the growth of blueberries was not just because of their antioxidant benefit but because you can eat them out of your hand--they’re a convenient, snack-time product. Convenience is intelligently marketing a convenient delivery format, such as Ocean Spray’s Craisins in a bag.

4. Control of supply: There’s nothing worse than creating a novel product concept and having another person copying it for 10 percent less. So gaining a control of the supply is vital. Developing an intellectual property portfolio around a variety is one idea.

5.Health benefit: In the current regulatory environment, the threshold to meet is having enough science to demonstrate a benefit that keeps the regulators happy. The most successful superfruits have a good body of science behind them--pomegranates have 133 published studies, blueberries have 96, cranberries 79. It pays to invest in adding to a body of science to substantiate a superfruit’s health benefits.

6. Another vital point to recognize is that the term “antioxidant” is becoming passe as a marketing term. There are 3,000 products in Europe and America that talk about antioxidants. What’s the point of difference? The thing to do now is achieve a point of difference. And that means moving away from the complicated, difficult and frankly pointless world of antioxidants and moving to real reasons why people want to buy a product--a benefit they can relate to. Maybe it’s boosting the immune system of children. Pick one, and market it in that direction instead.

7. Marketing: No matter how strong your science, you have to also create a platform for building a message. The balance should probably be about 50:50 between science and marketing. If you focus on a small group of consumers and do everything to hit their needs, your sales can go up.

--Todd Runestad
Science editor
Functional Ingredients

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