Aronia as an ingredient in Europe has risen from just two launches in 1997 to 108 last year, according to Mintel's Global New Product Database. Europe is leading the way in foods containing aronia - which is thought to have one of the highest antioxidant values of all red and black berries. Last year the bloc had the most launches globally, while North America came in a distant second. North American aronia-containing products crept from zero in 1997 to 29 last year. Mintel said the ingredient has been used "mostly as a flavour component in soft drinks and to add more vitamin C and/or antioxidants to a drink" and at the moment it is still rare to make a connection on pack between aronia and antioxidants. This gives the opportunity for companies to plug this gap. Mintel says that out of last year's 157 worldwide launches, more than half were for juices, a third of launches came under the confectionary banner, and a quarter of launches were for spoonable yoghurt. The smallest section for aronia was for cereal bars, accounting for just five per cent. Strength Aronia's great appeal is its high antioxidant value, measured in terms of Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). Antioxidants have the ability to neutralise free radicals that can damage the body's cells. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress by building up in the body. Oxidative stress is thought to contribute to the ageing process and several diseases. Also known as black chokeberry, aronia berries have an ORAC value of more than 7,300 micromoles per gram, and some scientific studies have found an ORAC value of 16,100 micromoles per 100 grams. The United States Department of Agriculture says the ORAC values for one granny smith apple is 5,381 and a one cup serving of blueberry would have a value of 13,427. The department's data does not include an entry for aronia. Together with a high ORAC value and components called anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, the aronia is one of the most powerful berries on the market. Aronia contains high amounts of proanthocyanidins, which have been documented in the past as helping to inhibit the growth of human lung, colon and leukaemia cells in culture, without affecting healthy cells. Studies have found total anthocyanin content in chokeberries is 1480 mg per 100 g of fresh berries, and proanthocyanidin concentration is 664 mg per 100 grams. One of the latest companies to tap into the powerful potential of the berry was the Symrise subsidiary Kaden Biochemicals. In November the firm launched its first aronia extract in powder form which it said is an economical alternative to other antioxidants on the markets. The firm added that its major attraction is its "extremely rich" concentrations of phytochemicals. However, the firm declined to reveal any potential market return for the extract. The aronia plant, which is native to eastern North America, produces violet-black berries.