The German company first introduced its acerola flavour systems in 2003 but the fruit remains largely unknown to the consumer because it is unavailable in retail channels owing to its short shelf life.
However it looks set to become more widely recognised as Wild's acerola preparations are increasingly used by beverage makers, under pressure to create new flavours, and offer new colours, taste and an exotic name.
Acerola, originally native to the Caribbean islands but now found across Central and South America, also offers a novel source of natural vitamin C for the booming fruit juice and multivitamin drinks sector.
Just 1g juice of the fruit can provide 10mg of vitamin C compared to 0.4mg from the same quantity of orange juice, explained Joachim Laengerer, senior vice president of product development at Wild.
"Vitamin C from natural fruit is much more expensive than synthetic. But at the moment most of the dosage of acerola is around 1 per cent juice in the final beverage," he told NutraIngredients.com.
The company sources the fruit from Brazil and is also looking at another Brazilian fruit with an even higher vitamin C content, which still needs to be industrialized.
"Products with synthetic vitamins are easily made but if you want a natural vitamin booster you need to look at the range of fruits available. Rose hips have slightly less vitamin C but don't have the same image of an interesting, new fruit," said Laengerer.
Fruit juice sales are soaring in Europe, driven by consumers' perception of the beverage as a healthier alternative to coffee and fizzy drinks.
Over the past two years, sales of chilled, high quality and natural juice have increased by a staggering 60 per cent in the UK to some £768 million (€1.1bn) in 2004, according to recent Mintel data.
"Trends towards healthier eating as well as an increasing interest in more natural, organic products are key reasons for the phenomenal growth we have seen in this market," said James McCoy, senior market analyst at Mintel.
"What is more, British consumers are now demanding more top quality, premium products and produce with added vitamins, minerals, and functional ingredients such as soy or omega-3," he added.
Wild also processes the cherry-red acerola fruit into flavour systems for dairy products and confectionery. It requires careful processing to retain the ascorbic acid content.
Products containing the fruit will be on display at Drinktech in the autumn.