More is better when it comes to adding fruit & veggies to shelf-stable products

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Taura Natural Ingredients
Source: Taura Natural Ingredients

Related tags Fruit

For years a super fruit could give a finished product near superstar status, but as acai, pomegranate, cranberry and other nutritional powerhouses have gone mainstream, manufacturers looking for the same lift from the ingredients have to up the ante.

“Everybody talks about super fruits to the point that they have become mainstream,”​ with most consumers understanding their nutritional value proposition and being willing to spend slightly more for the extra antioxidant and nutritive punch that they pack, said Peter Dehasque, CEO of Taura Natural Ingredients.

But, he told FoodNavigator-USA, as they become more mainstream it isn’t necessarily enough to have just one. Rather, consumers want more.

“What we are seeing as a very interesting result is more manufacturers making combinations of these fruits”​ by blending familiar but still desirable fruits with the super fruits, for example cranberry-blackberry or pomegranate-blueberry, Dehasque added.

He explained that Taura Natural Ingredients is uniquely positioned to help manufacturers meet consumers' evolving demand for fruit blends with its Ultra Rapid Concentration​ technology, which extracts moisture from heat sensitive fruit to protect the ingredient’s integrity but also give it more stability, lower water activity and the ability to free flow into a variety of product platforms.

Other suppliers who dry or freeze dry fruits can’t blend more than one ingredient into a single bit, rather they are restricted to distinct elements, he added.

Tropical fruits heat up

In addition to wanting super fruit combinations, consumers also increasing want tropical and more “premium”​ fruits, Dehasque said.

“One of the tropical fruits that is really coming back is the mango,”​ he said, adding that pineapple is also a top favorite.

More expensive, delicate and hard to find fruits, such as raspberry, also are becoming more popular as dehydrated or pureed options, in part because the fresh fruit is so difficult to come by in some regions and seasons, he said.

Consumer gravitation towards raspberries underscores another movement towards more premium ingredients, which often are viewed as more healthy or indulgent depending on the consumers’ point of reference, he added.

Vegetables gain favor, but only in small doses

Consumers may still give preference to dried or pureed foods, but vegetables in packaged foods and beverages also are increasingly in “very high demand now,”​ said Dehasque.

He explained that consumers are turning to vegetables more because they have lower sugar content, in addition to nutrient density, bold colors and specific flavors.

While vegetables have a lot to offer, they still have a ways to go before they are able to successfully fly solo as a star ingredient, Dehasque suggested.

“I don’t think that pure vegetable is something that consumers are waiting for, but if you combine it with the right fruit, it gets much better reception from a taste profile point of view,” ​he said, adding popular choices now include red beet, sweet corn, pumpkin, cauliflower and kale.

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