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No baobab boom anytime soon

By Carina Perkins , 18-Sep-2009
Last updated on 22-Sep-2009 at 16:04 GMT2009-09-22T16:04:53Z

Baobab has been touted as "the new superfruit", but the slow uptake of the fruit in Europe has raised questions over how quickly it will appear in new products in the US.

Baobab fruit pulp achieved FDA-notified GRAS status in the US earlier this month. However, it was granted novel foods approval in Europe last June, but has yet to make an appearance in new product launches.

Trade association Phyto Trade Africa has blamed the delay on global companies waiting for US as well as European approval, as well caution due to the poor economy. Cyril Lombard, head of Market Development at PhytoTrade Africa said a “large number” of companies are carrying out research and development with baobab products.

“The number that are converting to product launches might be less than expected but this seems to be the trend with all new product development due to the economic crisis," he added.

Lynn Domblaser, director of CPG trend insight at Mintel, said the economy could have a similar effect on product launches in the US market.

“A poor economy tends to slow down new product development across the board. It is too risky for companies to have major failure and new products are expensive to launch. I think that we will see significant numbers of introductions, but perhaps not for another six to twelve months," she said.

Phyto Trade Africa spokesperson, Dr Lucy Welford, said that another limiting factor could be the fact that baobab is “almost too exotic”, pointing out that people are more cautious in an economic downturn. .

She added that the R&D process might take a bit longer because some “fancy footwork” is required in the formulation of the pulp due to its dry, powdery consistency.

Welford was quick to point out that these constraints have already been overcome in South Africa, where a number of products containing baobab have been launched ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

Dornblaser predicted that products containing baobab should prove big success when they do finally arrive on the US market.

“Baobab hits so many key areas – it is high in antioxidants, which are really big in the US at the moment,” she said.

“It also appears makes a claim on prebiotic fibres – something which is less understood in the US than in Europe, but it still a key developing trend.”

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