Since the mid 2000s, the number of product vaunting the merits of "superfruit" ingredients has exploded. The superfruit trend, emerging from the USA, has become a stable segment of global markets for processed food products. According to Future Market Insights, the world market for superfruits was worth more than 38 billion dollars in 2015, and should grow by 5.9% per year until 2026 (source). Jos de Koning, founder of Superfruiticals, talks to us about the current rush to exploit superfruits: what can we really call a "superfruit? How can we explain the benefits to consumers? What are the principal growth markets for superfruits?
Super fruit or superfruit?
For Jos de Koning, first we need a reminder of the basics: while it is clear that the "superfruit" trend in booming in Europe, following its success in the USA, we still need to be vigilant about the exact usage of the term. "We can't call anything we want a superfruit," he explains. In other words, all super fruits are not "superfruits". You follow?
"How do we differenciate between what we can call a superfruit and what is simply a (very) healthy fruit - since, in any case, a fruit is never bad for your health?" he says. There is an answer: "A scientific studies must have been carried out to classify a fruit as a superfruit." Indeed, to benefit from this term, a fruit must meet two criteria:
1 – it must present a cocktail of nutrients that is denser and more powerful than the average fruit. For example, an apple, despite its high fibre and vitamin content, is not a superfruit. However, a blueberry or a goji berry are indeed superfruits.
2 – there must be scientific studies proving the health benefits of the nutrients present in these fruit: the interest of polyphenols, flavonoïds etc. To provide another example, in the case of blueberries, it is manganese that is the subject of a recognised health claim (more on the blueberry manganese claim here).
Health, clean label, exotic: superfruits hold all the cards
French consumers are becoming adepts of "health" food as they become better informed and more attentive to their food choices. The sales of "health" foods in France have indeed passed 6 billion Euros in 2017 according to Xerfi. In the results of a recent OpinionWay survey for Bjorg and Bonneterre & Compagnie, among the 17% of French consumers who have adopted a specific diet (gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian etc.), more than half do so for health reasons (source). Organic foods, allergen-free and plant-based are all growth drivers of this trend.
In parallel, the "clean label" trend in gaining traction (you can read more here): consumers are seeking health benefits, but also 100% natural.
By reconciling health benefits and naturalness, superfruits double their potential to convince consumers. And the cherry on the cake: many superfruits are exotic, adding a bonus for those wanting to use their food as a way to travel and experience the world.
However, Jos de Koning adds a warning for professionals: "We should avoid creating confusion between exotic fruit and superfruits!". If several superfruits are of exotic origin (like açai berries, goji berries or chia), fruits from less far afield are in no way excluded from the label. "Black currant, nuts, blueberries and black cherries are superfruits," he reminds us. And inversely, a banana or a pineapple are not. "The primary logic is often forgotten: it is not the fact of being exotic that makes it a superfruit, but its exceptional nutrient density that presents a health benefit."
What are the markets? Human (and animal) health, and especially organic!
For Jos de Koning, while human food markets are an obvious choice for superfruits (juice, snack formats, dietary supplements, processed food ingredients etc.), they are certainly not the only ones.
"In my opinion, my markets of choice are natural preservatives and animal health," he explains.
"I am going on a strong demand for organic cooked meats in Denmark, because that country's legislation is very strict and allows no synthetic preservatives. With my superfruit, the argousier, I knew it was possible to find a natural preserving solution (with no 'E' number) that could even be authorised for organic meats. Next I found other clients in Germany, the Netherlands etc. in cooked meats, but also in other markets such as vegan products."
This is how he developed his range of dietary supplements based on the argousier, for animal health and organic productions: "studies on poultry have confirmed that our natural products have better value for money for the farmer (increase in laying and greater weight gain for meat production), appetance stimulation with an improvement in the consumption index, an improved nutritional profile of the eggs and the meat, and a lower mortality rate."
His next markets? The sky's the limit: "The argousier is also of interest for its appetite stimulating properties. The are some very promising applications for the health of fragile populations such as the elderly or hospitalised patients, presenting risks of denutrition."
To find out more about the activities of Jos de Koning or to go further on the topic of superfruit,feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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