Novel fruit varieties can capture consumer attention, HortResearch said

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fruit Apple

New fruit varieties under development by HortResearch which can be
higher in antioxidants compared to their more natural counterparts
are tapping into consumer's understanding and demand for healthy
products.

Consumption of traditional fresh fruit has declined and will continue to do so as consumers opt for more exotic and convenient packaged types such as blueberries. According to HortResearch, the main drivers in fruit now are the more exotic or novel types. In response the New Zealand research group has developed different varieties of standard fruit and has brought a gold Kiwi and an apple with red flesh to the table. An apple is made red by anthocyanins, which have been shown to boost human health through their antioxidant activity. HortResearch's apple contains anthocyanins throughout the fruit. While the red apple is under development, the new Kiwi fruits are available in Europe. Health ​ The superfruit market has ballooned over the last few years. Market analysts have seen much growth in the berry market driven by consumer demand for healthy foods. Blueberry is currently one of the fastest growing fruits in the UK. The term 'superfruit' refers to any fruit that has a particularly high antioxidant content or is packed full of other beneficial nutrients. According to UK-based market analyst AC Neilsen, sales of blueberries have rocketed by £55 million (€81 million) in two years, from £40 million (€59 million) in May 2005 to around £95 million (€140 million) in the same month of 2007. Business leader for health food at HortResearch, Karl Crawford, told NutraIngredients.com this morning that there was a plethora of reasons for developing novel fruits. He said: "It could be to offer the consumer a different taste, for example, or for texture​." The group can also produce varieties which are more resistant to fungus. Convenience ​Demand for convenient fruit could prove a huge boost for firms who can produce an easy-to-take form of fruit such as juices, or added in cereals and snack bars. Crawford said: "Traditional fruit consumption of apples, oranges and bananas has been stagnant or declined in most countries across the world. People are looking for fruit which is convenient, no seeds, or skin. That is one of the trends in fruit which I think will continue for the next few years."​ According to the United States Department of Agriculture, consumption of oranges and bananas has dropped by some 10 per cent in the past decade. On the other hand, blueberry consumption has shot up by 100 per cent, and cranberry by some 20 per cent. Indeed, cranberry is increasingly becoming a fruit of choice. Growth in consumer demand saw the little red berry added to 900 products in 2007 - an enormous leap from the 54 from the year before. A lot of the appeal has been spurred by a wave of scientific reports which have stacked up the fruit's role in health areas such as combating urinary tract infection.

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