Mintel picks cupuaçu as next big superfruit flavor

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Market research organization Mintel has predicted that cupuaçu will emerge as the next big superfruit flavor in 2010, among its flavor predictions for the year ahead.

Finding the next obscure fruit with a high nutrient profile is big business in the food and beverage industry, as novelty has proved to be popular with consumers. Although the popularity of some more unusual flavors has been fleeting, others appear to be here to stay, such as pomegranate and açai.

Cupuaçu is a creamy-fleshed and distinctive-flavored fruit related to cacao that grows in the Amazon, known for its high levels of antioxidants. Mintel said that cupuaçu also contains vitamins, essential fatty acids and amino acids and pointed to Musselman’s release of a lime and cupuaçu flavored apple sauce as evidence of the gathering mainstream interest behind the fruit’s unusual flavor.

However, as has been seen with other superfruit flavors, cupuaçu’s nutritional profile may not necessarily be central to its long-term success, even if its popularity begins there.

The past year has seen flavor firms release a host of flavors that take advantage of consumer perception of superfruits’ ‘healthy halos’, without delivering any nutritional advantages, including pomegranate, green tea, blueberry and cranberry flavors, for example.

Whether Mintel is right about the potential of cupuaçu remains to be seen, but its 2009 flavor forecast also singled out an exotic fruit: Starfruit. However, despite 20 new food and beverage product launches mentioning the fruit in 2008 – up from zero in 2005, 11 in 2006, and seven in 2007 – the organization said it has not picked up on any starfruit launches so far this year.

The market researcher has made six flavor trend predictions for the year ahead.

The others are sweet potato, cardamom, rose water, hibiscus, and Latin spices.

Mintel’s leading new products expert Lynn Dornblaser said the organization expects people to continue eating at home even as the economy recovers, but that consumers will be open to experimenting with new flavors.

She said: “The home cook is becoming more advanced with his or her cooking skills by trying new spices and flavors, as well as preparing everyday items in new ways."

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