Superfruit flavours get ever more exotic

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fruit

Flavour industry innovators are seeking inspiration from ever more
exotic superfruits like lula and camu camu, in a bid to both
harness their healthy reputation and present new offerings to
counter consumers' organoleptic boredom.

The term 'superfruit' refers to any fruit that has a particularly high antioxidant content or is packed full of other beneficial nutrients. Danny Hodrien, managing director of F&F Projects, said at the SAFC symposium in Grasse, France, last week that testing times are ahead for the superfood category in general (including non-fruits like soy) with the new nutrition and health claims regulation. But the benefit of superfruit flavours is that they can give a functional-like image to products. In a sense, superfruit flavours can "accentuate the health aspect​". Indeed, in the past week there have been two new announcements of new superfruit flavours in the market place. Wild revealed its latest flavour inspiration comes from the South American lulo (also known as naranjilla), which looks like an orange-coloured tomato but has light-green jelly-like flesh that tastes similar to pineapple or lemon. Although common in South American juice bars, lulo is little-known in Europe its fresh form, largely because it continues ripening after it has been picked. This makes it hard to transport. The firm is offering lulo as a juice concentrate or a puree, which it tips "has the potential to become the latest taste trend​". It says that the fruit preparations are suitable for use in dairy products, ice cream, jelly and chocolates, and can also be provided in a form suitable for bakery products. What is more, Wild says they come with nutritional benefits of their own, rather than being a flavour extract that is piggy-backing on a healthy reputation: the fruit is said contain calcium, phosphorous, iron, vitamins B and C and provitamin A. Another flavour company moving in on the exotic trend is Treatt, which is launching two new flavour ingredients of African origin at the FIE show in London next week: Tamarind Treattarome 9860 and Rooibos Treattarome 9762. Again, rooibos, also known as red tea, has built up a strong following for its superior antioxidant content. But the company says that the new offerings are largely intended to quench a thirty for novelty. "Manufacturers can now incorporate a taste of Africa into a variety of end products and satisfy the increasingly adventurous consumer palate,"​ it says. This combination of flavour and a need for novelty is bang on Holdrien's view of the flavour industry's future. Food and beverage developments need to be in line with consumer concerns about weight, age, health and mortality, he said, and flavour developments must reflect this market environment. Not only does this mean natural and organic flavours, but also superfood flavours, flavour-masking, and "the need to rekindle the consumer's excitement in food to overcome the organoleptic boredom."​ Hodrien's list of superfoods to watch included soy foods, gojy berry, pomegranate, blueberry, acai, camu camu, Amazonian herbs, and spices reported to help fight cancer. Of these, he said that a pomegranate flavour is proving elusive to come up with. Flower flavours include orange blossom, rose and lavender. Business Insights, meanwhile, which published a set of predictions on hot flavour trends at the end of last year, highlighted exotic flavours as a category to watch in 2007. The market researcher said that while fruits previously categorised as exotic such as coconut and pineapple are becoming more mainstream, consumers are looking for new, interesting and exotic fruits. The examples of potential contenders it gave were guava, lychee, pomelo, yuzu, and tamarind. So far this year there have been several moves by flavour firms into the superfruit and active plant-extract arena. For instance in May Danisco Flavours (now part of Firmenich) said it had developed an acai berry flavour for use in dairy, ice cream, beverage and confectionery products. According to Danisco. the raw acai fruit has a slightly metallic taste. This could stand in the way of its acceptability in certain products, particularly where the whole dried berries are not used. By capturing the "sweet, pleasant flavour slightly reminiscent of chocolate",​ Danisco says that it will contribute to acai's lasting commercial success. French flavours firm Aromatech has developed a new range of superfruit flavours that it says combines a popular taste trend with antioxidants and a connotation of health. Aromatech's range includes acai flavour, pomegranate, cranberry, blueberry, acerola, goji and mangosteen. For beverages, it has developed original mixes for concentrates, such as pomegranate/cranberry, blueberry/acerola, and vegetable-based beverages like tamarillo/carrot. Mastertaste, the flavour and fragrance division of Kerry, this month unveiled its new Active Botanicals range of natural flavours and perceived health benefits. The range includes the likes of black and green tea, rooibos, chamomile and citrus, which came up trumps in the company's consumer research on the subject.

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