Mintel data shows UK goji launches

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Mintel

European consumption of goji berry products appears to be centered
on the UK, suggests Mintel's Global New Products Database, which
lists four new launches in the market in 2006.

Last week the UK's Food Standards Agency said last week that it has written to retailers, health food companies and other stakeholders to request evidence of whether goji berries were consumed in substantial quantities in the European Union before May 1997. If no satisfactory evidence is available, authorisation under novel foods legislation may need to be sought. Mintel's Global New Products Database​ (GNPD) has no goji product listing for any other European country, and no listings before 2006. Amongst the found products launched last year were two dried goji berry snack products from Northern Irish snack food company Linwoods, in October and November. Sales manager Fergal Woods told NutraIngredients.com that the company has been aware of FSA enquiries into the status of goji for some time, but that it is "quite confident" that there is evidence of their consumption prior to May 1997. "People are working behind the scenes to present evidence,"​ he said, noting that the berries have been consumed by the Chinese community for thousands of years. Nonetheless, he said that the decision remains wholly in the court of the FSA, and it remains to be seen whether the evidence will satisfy the agency. The FSA said last week that it has checked with other member states, and no significant history of consumption before 1997 has come to light so far. However since the Mintel data suggests that European goji consumption may be UK-focused, there is a chance that the evidence it needs may emerge from its home turf. There are currently no safety concerns surrounding goji berries, a factor that will be taken into consideration should any enforcement action be necessary. If the outcome of the enquiry is negative, Woods said he is aware that one of the possible upshots could be that Linwoods' and others' products will have to be withdrawn from shelves. Other products introduced in the UK are a cereal bar called Mile High from Eat Natural, in collaboration with Virgin Airlines. The bar includes goji berries along with walnuts, sesame seeds and cranberries. A spokesperson for the company told NutraIngredients.com that the bar is presently available on Virgin Atlantic flights and Eat Natural has plans for it to be sold at retail in and around airport locations. The fourth product launched is Sun Dried Goji Berries from Fun Foods 4 All, which was entered into the GNPD in August 2006. Goji berries,, also known as Chinese wolfberries, come from the Lycium barbarum plant, a vine that grows in China, Tibet and other areas of Asia. They are understood to be loaded with anti-oxidants and vitamin C. Woods said that goji berries have started to become popular as people seek new natural products with healthy properties. In its product description, Linwoods describes goji berries as "one of the most nutritionally-dense foods on earth"​ Data source: Mintel's Global New Products Database​.

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