After meeting at a trade show, Welch’s and Taura Naturals Ingredients teamed to create FruitWorx branded pieces and pastes made from Welch’s Concord Grape Juiced and Puree to use in nutrition bars, confectioneries, baking products and breakfast cereals for the first time, the companies announced May 14.
Until now the Concord grape has been primarily limited to juice, jelly and puree because of its seeds and “slip skin,” which is edible, but usually removed before consumption, said Wayne Lutomski, VP of International and Global Ingredients at Welch’s Foods Inc.
Now, however, with Taura Natural Ingredient’s Ultra Rapid Concentration process “we are able to bypass the slip skin issue and the seeds and really focus and concentrate the fruit itself so that it can now go into other types of foods that it previously couldn’t,” Lutomski added.
An added benefit of using Taura’s URC process, which quickly extracts moisture from heat sensitive fruit to maintain the raw material’s integrity is that the bold rich flavor of Concord grapes “really jumps out in a way you wouldn’t get from other grape juice products,” Lutomski said.
A trendy ingredient with cross-generational appeal
FruitWorx’s jammy concentrated flavor is on trend to appeal to millennials who seek strong flavors in their foods, but it also appeals to older generations who have fond memories of Welch’s grape jelly and juice from their childhood as well as today’s children, Lutomski said.
FruitWorx allows millennials and older generations to enjoy the nostalgic taste of Welch’s from their childhood in more adult formats that meet their needs for convenience and on-the-go eating options, such as nutrition bars and trail mix, added Richard Croad, chief operating officer and president of Taura North America. The versatile ingredient also can be combined with other flavors, such as chocolate or spice, for a more complex and modern taste.
At the same time, the classic, sweet flavor still appeals to young children while also providing health benefits that meet parents demand for better-for-you snacks to give their sons and daughters, Lutomski said.
He explained that research shows Welch’s Concord grape juices and purees have quantifiable health benefits, such as improving circulation and heart health. These health benefits likely translate to FruitWorx because the polyphenols are still present in a concentrated amount in the fruit bits and paste, he added, noting that the company plans to conduct research on the health benefits of the new ingredient.
Finally, the partnership helps meet consumers’ increasing demand for “real” fruit ingredients in shelf stable foods.
Initial conversations with food manufacturers about FruitWorx have been positive, although because the ingredient is only a few weeks old it is premature to announce specific CPGs that will feature the fruit bits, Lutomski said.
However, he noted that both Welch’s and Taura will sell FruitWorx pieces and pastes in North America, Japanese and South Korea to start, with other geographies following later. He and Croad stressed the joint marketing allows the firms to continue their strong, positive relationship and shared insight.
Lutomski added that Welch’s likely will roll out branded products featuring the ingredient in the future, and while it likes to maintain its brand for itself, the company could be open to co-branding opportunities, which would lend the firm’s well respected heritage to new product launches.