“These days, people are really looking for foods that are naturally functional as opposed to popping vitamins or things like that. They really want to get the healthy things in their diet, through the foods they are eating,” Greg May, a product developer with Welch’s Global Ingredient Group, told FoodNavigator-USA.
For support he pointed to a recent survey of more than 1,000 adults conducted by ORC International for Welch’s that found 63% saying they are aware that they should consume colorful produce.
In particular, May said, they should be consuming the color purple, which “is a sign post for nutrient density.” He explained that purple produce – such as the Concord Grapes that Welch’s uses in its finished products and ingredients – is packed with polyphenols that act as antioxidants in the body.
“Concord grapes are somewhat of a unique grape from most table grapes or wine grapes … and that difference gives Concord a little bit on an edge,” he said, explaining: “The skin on a Concord grape is much thicker than on a wine or table grape and it is really the skin where all that purple color is isolated. And so, because it is thicker, the Concord grape really has a high content of polyphenols.”
In fact, he said of juices, “purple Concord grapes are higher in polyphenols than most recognized superfruits like blueberries, acai and [cranberry]. We have tremendous content of polyphenols.”
On top of that, he said, “the Concord grape is a great tasting food. So, it is really a nice way to eat purple. It is a nice way to get polyphenols and even under that, Concord grapes offer tremendous value. They are not as expensive as some other superfruits, but they still give all the benefits on top of great taste.”
Despite the many known benefits of purple and consumer desire to consume it, most shoppers are hard pressed to think of more than three sources of purple.
May said this finding from the study surprised him, and reveals and marketing opportunity.
“The gap between people saying that purple is available and know that purple is something they should consume, yet how few are actually doing so and how many people were not aware of what the options were beyond a couple of items – that too me stood out,” May said. “And,” he added, “it really speaks to the opportunity to educate consumers as what is available” and to improve the “execution of how consumers can get purple in their diet.”
He underscored that the lack of purple products currently available also signals limited competition to hold back creative manufacturers.
As a company that has “always been purple,” and has a long-respected heritage with consumers, Welch’s is well positioned to help fill that education gap and work with manufacturers to meet the demand by using its line of Concord grape-based ingredients, May added.
The line includes “everything from regular grape juice all the way up to grape powder,” which gives manufacturers flexibility in terms of how much water content they can absorb in their products, May said. He added the company also has FruitWorx real fruit pieces and fruit purees which together give manufacturers “as many tools as possible to use Concord grapes in their products” and really seize this purple trend.