Fruit dons 'healthy' halo

Fruit will be one of the most dynamic functional platforms in years to come as consumer interest in better health converges with a desire to get nutrients from ?natural? sources, according to a new report from author and editor of New Nutrition Business, Julian Mellentin.

Highlighting successful marketing of the intrinsic healthfulness of fruits such as cranberries, blueberries and pomegranates, the ?Superfruit? report points out that these approaches ?may become the guiding strategy for food producers everywhere.? By examining how and why certain fruits have been so successful, lessons can be learnt.

?If you are in the business of whole fruit, fruit beverages or fruit ingredients, you can look forward, with more optimism than most sections of the food industry,? the report stated. ?Fruit, it seems, may turn out to be the future of functional food. More than any other food type, fruit has a halo of health. It?s a halo that?s being made brighter all the time as a steady stream of news about fruit?s benefits, such as fibre and antioxidants, makes its way into a media eager for simple, positive stories about healthy eating.?

It added: ?The sweetness of fruits, their taste and texture, their portability, make them much more appealing to consumers than almost any other food. Vegetables, by comparison, have a perception problem. They are perceived as inconvenient, not at all portable, difficult to prepare and with tastes that are unfavourable — just think of pure carrot juice, long a staple of the health food store, but an unacceptable taste to the mainstream consumer.?

Beverages are the category showing the greatest success and this will continue, the report predicted. ?It?s in beverages, rather than whole fruit, that demand for products based on healthy fruit is strongest. Companies that produce fruit smoothies and ?pure? fruit drinks — Innocent in the UK, Naked in the US, for example — are enjoying remarkable growth.

?The case of pomegranate drink Pom Wonderful, which has come from nowhere to be a $60 million brand in a short time, is a model of how to take new fruit benefits to market. The success of this product is simply that the company marketing it is not science-led but brand-led.?

While the success of Pom Wonderful demonstrates consumers are willing to accept new fruits, other new ingredients such as peptides and plant sterols may be rejected by consumers, particularly if the ingredients sound ?too scientific.?

?The case of pomegranate — now being imitated by other ?new fruit? such as the Brazilian açai berry — suggests that we are just at the beginning of a period in which fruit products might be about to rival dairy products as the drivers of innovation and sales,? the report stated.

The report cited cranberry as a classic example of a fruit that had benefited from a strong link to a specific health benefit — in its case, urinary tract infection.

Others like blueberries could add versatility ?in their natural state? to their inherent functionality, while other fruit processors had to find ways to make their fruit technically competitive for use as ingredients in processed foods. Ocean Spray?s development of cranberry as an ingredient was a good example.

The report can be purchased for $180 at

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