The uchuva fruit, also known as Cape gooseberry, originates from South America and is commonly used to garnish desserts because of its decorative appearance. The small round fruit is yellow when ripe, and has a characteristic sweet, tangy flavor. Although uchuva (physalis peruviana) is still relatively new to the US market, Decas believes it will gain popularity on the back of its high fiber content and a general increase in demand for 'superfruits'. Superfruit The sweetened dried fruit ingredient that Decas has added to its product line is cultivated in Colombia, and is said to have the highest level of dietary fiber per 100g compared to other more familiar dried fruits, such as apricots, figs and raisins. "With the strong consumer interest and demand for exotic fruits and the need for more fiber in our diets, Colombian Uchuva is ripe for the ingredient market," said Nick Decas, vice president of sales at Decas. "Uchuva has a unique, sweet-tangy flavor that's great on its own or mixed with other dried fruit and nuts. Importantly, its ultra high-fiber content, antioxidants, and natural nutrients are going to appeal to health and wellness conscious food manufacturers and consumers," he said. According to the firm, a 40g serving of dried uchuva provides around 40 percent of the daily fiber requirement based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Decas' sweetened dried uchuvas are prepared by infusing evaporated cane juice into whole uchuvas. The product is then dried to preserve color and flavor. The product has a minimum 12 month shelf life when stored in a cool dry atmosphere. Fiber market Interest in dietary fiber has been increasing with scientific studies linking increased intake to reduced risks of cancers such as colorectal and cardiovascular disease. As such, there is a trend to find new sources of dietary fiber as functional ingredients. Despite the mounting evidence for the benefits of dietary fiber, a survey by Columbia University showed the average intake in the US was about 12.5 grams a day. This is well short of the 32 grams of fiber per day recommended by the US National Fiber Council. The Institute of Medicine recommends 19-39g of fiber per day, depending on age, gender and activity level. In the US, the entire fiber market was worth $192.8m in 2004. Insoluble fiber dominates the market with $176.2m and $16.6m for soluble. But market research firm Frost and Sullivan predicts that by 2011 the fiber market will more than double in the US to $470m. And growth in the soluble fiber sector is expected to outpace that of insoluble fiber - 26.3 percent compared to 13.1 percent. Decas cranberry growth Massachusetts-based Decas is primarily active in cranberry products, which it has supplied to the food industry for over a decade. In February this year, the firm announced that it would expand its production capacity for sweetened dry cranberries (SDCs) by 35 percent in response to growing industry demand for the healthy berry ingredient in foods and beverages. Decas said it hopes the expansion of its processing facilities will increase efficiencies and economies of scale. The company plans to grow its market presence and better position itself to market its products around the world.