Demand for exotic fruits set to increase in 2006, report

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Exotic fruits, white tea and small plates and bites are set to
become more popular with consumers this year, as more people opt
for "healthy," "fashionable" and "adventurous" foods,
says a new report.

These are the latest sectors "well-positioned for growth"​ in trend predictions for 2006 by food trend tracker the Center for Culinary Development (CCD).

"Fruits such as mango, papaya, and pomegranate, once considered exotic, have become mainstream,"​ according to the organization, which identifies "healthy eating"​ and "ethnic mainstreaming"​ as partly responsible for the popularity of these products.

Other exotic fruits, or "superfruits,"​ that consumers will opt for to boost their mood and energy levels include guava, lychee, pomelo, yuzu, and tamarind as well as berries such as acai, guarana and goji, said the CCD, which tracks trends and develops products for food companies and restaurant chains.

Indeed, in Europe the increased popularity of exotic fruit contributed significantly to a growth rate of 26 per cent for the European organic food industry between 2001 and 2004, according to market analyst Datamonitor, and the US market looks to be following suit.

"Sales of premium fruit are on the rise in the US, as are sales of ethnic food in general. Exotic fruits, which combine the perceived authenticity and flavour intensity benefits of ethnic foods with the health and quality benefits of premium fruit, are set to grow in future years, driven by consumers' desire for greater healthiness, authenticity and flavour," Datamonitor analyst John Band told FoodNavigator-USA.

White tea is also set to enjoy good growth, according to the CCD's latest trend report.

"The same thing that has happened with wine, coffee, and chocolate is now happening to tea. Teas of every conceivable origin and color have thrived largely as a function of the positive press surrounding its health benefits. Now, what we're seeing is an increased interest in drinking various types of tea for medicinal reason, relaxation and social occasions,"​ said the report.

"While black and green were the colors in demand, white tea is now cropping up with ever-greater frequency on our radar. White tea's subtle taste allows it to be flavored in any number of ways, and with a higher concentration of antioxidants than either black or green teas and much less caffeine, it is rapidly making inroads among health conscious consumers,"​ it added.

As well as becoming more health conscious, consumers are also increasingly opting for 'trendy' foods.

"Food-fashion-forward"​ restaurants have picked up on this trend, serving a number of small plates such as Mexican and Thai tapas, said the CCD, adding that small plates and bites "will continue to have big momentum."

"When it comes to food, consumers want more than just tastes, they want experiences. Small plates provides just that."

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