Health trend: Going bananas over “superfruits”

CHICAGO While health food fads may come and go, “superfruit” consumables have become all the rage, according to Brand Week.

Superfruits, appreciated as being rich in antioxidants and other nutrients such as phytonutrients, can be found in several food items and beverages. In 2006, 8,000 food and beverage products containing such fruits were launched globally, according to Chicago's Mintel Global Solutions. In 2007, introductions of new superfruit products could hit 10,000.

The category includes cranberries, blueberries, pomegranates and tart cherries, acai berries, black currants, lingonberries, mangosteen and gogi berries. Experts say consumers who are seeking healthy options are driving their popularity.

So far, Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid, Pepsi’s Tropicana, Apple & Eve, Blue Bunny and POM have released products based on the fruits. Even beverage conglomerate Anheuser-Busch developed superfruit beverages called 180 Red and 180 Blue energy drinks with acai and gogi berry flavoring. Last month it introduced Bacardi Silver Pomegranate Mojito.

Minute Maid, added Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored 100% fruit juice blend to its Enhanced Juices line just last month. Minute Maid is supporting the launch with print in People, Cooking Light and Fitness, according to the The Marketing Store.

Coke units Odwalla and Bossa Nova also have superfruit beverages. “We [wanted] to expand the line beyond breakfast and a pomegranate blueberry juice blend was the perfect way to do it,” said Ray Crockett, a Coca-Cola rep in Atlanta. “It’s a departure from orange juice.”

Tropicana has superfruit products in its Tropicana Pure and Fruit Smoothie lines. “Superfruits are the essence of our business,” said Jim McGinnis, vice president of marketing at Tropicana. “Superfruits are here to stay.”

Apple & Eve, a Roslyn, N.Y.-based company with numerous superfruit-enhanced juices, is launching Fizz Ed, a carbonated beverage with 70% juice, which will soon hit supermarket and club store shelves. “We introduced Fizz Ed in the school food service arena because schools are [looking for] healthier options,” Brad Angevine, vice president of marketing, told Brand Week.

Though superfruits have primarily been involved in the food and drink category only, experts say the trend may branch out to others. “We’re seeing superfruits, particularly pomegranates and acai, moving into nonfood categories such as skincare, haircare and cosmetics,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director, Mintel Custom Solutions. “It shows consumers are aware of superfruits and their benefits.” Research has shown that these fruits can aid several ailments, from cancer to acne.

“[Researchers are] now investigating pomegranates as an anti-cavity ingredient,” said Suzy Badaracco, president at food trends forecaster Culinary Tides in Tualatin, Ore. “[They want to see if] they can be incorporated into oral care products such as toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gums.”

“The success of superfruit products depends on the stamina manufacturers have and how well they can brand the products,” said Ken Harris, managing director at Cannondale Associates in Evanston, Ill. “That’s the trick.”

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