Leatherhead sees need for fruit ingredient market research

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food Nutrition Marketing Leatherhead

Leatherhead Food International is proposing to conduct major market
research into the Western European industrial fruits market, aiming
to shed light on how use of fruits in packaged foods may improve
their healthy image.

Sales of fresh fruits and juices have skyrocketed in Western Europe in recent years, partly due to government guidelines to consumer five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. There has also been considerable media attention to the health enhancing properties of some fruits - with cranberries, blueberries, pomegranates and others coming to be considered as 'superfruits'.

Yet despite this, the use of fruit-based ingredients in packaged foods, such as bakery, cereals, confectionery and snacks and frozen and chilled desserts has been under-researched, according to UK-based Leatherhead.

With its new programme entitled The Western European Industrial Fruit Products Market - An Assessment of Current & Future Requirements it seeks to shed new light on the potential for food manufacturers to use dried fruit, fruit pieces, pastes and purees to increase the healthy image of their products.

Jonathan Thomas, principal market analyst at Leatherhead, told NutraIngredients.com that food manufacturers are starting think marketing products on the basis of their fruit content.

Whether or not they do actually deliver health benefits is a matter of debate. Thomas said that he does not think a blueberry muffin, for example, would count for one of the recommended five-a-day portions of fruit.

There is a need to balance out the benefits of fruit content other ingredients that may be less healthy, such as sugar. But one of the aims of the research is to establish whether fruit-containing products are perceived as more healthy - and indeed whether fruit can be used in place of less healthy ingredients.

Thomas expects fruits such as cranberries and blueberries to figure large in the research, since there has been considerable media attention to their health-enhancing properties - such as cranberries' ability to ward off urinary tract infections.

Other fruits, such as sultana, raisons and currants, have been used in food products for longer, but have not had the same exposure.

Leatherhead decided to propose the research after having received some enquiries in this area from members. Moreover, there is evidence that consumers are making the link between fruit and health.

"Health concerns are driving the market across all areas of the food industry," said Thomas.

Leatherhead is inviting industry members to participate in the proposed research, which it plans to conduct between October and December.

Participants will have the opportunity to contribute to the primary research, with their questions included in questionnaires, surveys and focus groups.

The programme is designed to include both desk and trade research, with the latter comprising interviews with at least 50 major users of fruit-based ingredients and up to 20 key fruit product suppliers.

More information on the programme and participation opportunities is available online​.

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