Market data sent to us by Euromonitor International shows the overall sector to be in good health, with sharp growth rates and optimistic forecasts for the coming years.
Between 2007 and 2012, global sales of superfruit juices like pomegranate, goji, acai, blueberry and cranberry – have leapt from $3.86bn to $6.5bn. That’s just juices mind, not trail mixes, supplements, bars or even whole fruit sales.
By 2017 the market will be worth almost $10bn, Euromonitor predicts.
Yet fellow researcher Mintel says many ‘exotic’ superfruits like acai and kambucha are unlikely to achieve much more than trend status, with accompanying niche sales.
In a recent report, Mintel global food science analyst, Nirvana Chapman, made the call that despite growing bodies of science demonstrating elevated antioxidant levels and associated health benefits, the category was still, “unlikely to spark resurgence in usage, especially in the United States.”
She said there were supply chain issues with exotic superfruits that often required shipping from the Amazon or Himalayas, that the products were often priced high above “vitamin-infused competitors” and that consumers had been burnt to a degree by some rogue products not meeting their label claims.
“This lack of authenticity drove consumers toward more familiar superfruits such as pomegranate, blueberries and cranberries,” she said.
The serious players – both on the ingredients and end-products side – will say that is an issue beyond their control. There will always be rogue players in any sector after all.
Chapman acknowledged that, “close analysis of top superfruit types revealed that the number of new products with these flavors/ ingredients — pomegranate, açaí, and acerola — declined during 2010-11, but remained strong in 2011 compared to 2006, when they were just becoming universally familiar.”
She said the future of exotic superfruits could be improved with closer cooperation between relevant players.
“Unless the organizations selling these products find a way to band together, bring the price down, have a strong positive public relations message touting the high antioxidant content and links to disease prevention, and penalize false claims associated with these ingredients, usage and interest by consumers will continue to decline.”
A little doomsaying perhaps, especially in the light of another Mintel report compiled by Laura Jones that bigged up protein, fibre (3x prune levels) and antioxidant front-loaded Incan Goldenberry (or Cape Gooseberry or physalis peruviana) as an emerging exotic superfruit.
“…the berry has expanded into more conventional food and beverages, with a marked increase in its use over the past five years,” Jones remarked. Snack and fruit mixes were the most popular categories with 60 launches in the past five years.
But when it came to fruit snacks, only cranberry made the top ten with traditionals like apple, banana, apricot, raisins and plums dominating.
Jones said one sector that held a lot of promise for exotic superfruits was spreads and jams-jellies.