Ocean Spray ITC sees sales soar in CEE

By Jess Halliday in Warsaw

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ocean spray, Cranberry

Ocean Spray ITG has revealed extraordinary growth for its products
in Poland in the last few years - a phenomenon attributed to
growing health awareness, spending power, and a pre-existing berry
culture.

Ocean Spray Ingredient Technology Group (ITG), which is a first time exhibitor at FiCEE in Warsaw, says that sales of its sweetened dried cranberries in Poland have grown by 330 per cent in the last two years. Lee Doleman, European business development manager, told NutraIngredients.com, "Here [Poland], the Baltic States and into Russia are our largest growth markets."​ He said that a recent company visit to Bosnia and Croatia revealed cranberries are making regular, high profile appearance on retail shelves there, too. Product categories in which they are used include dairy, cereals, bars, snack packs, beverages, chocolates and bakery products. "Both of these countries did not have a word for cranberry in their language until a couple of years ago,"​ said Doleman. "We believe it is down to health." ​Consumer articles and TV coverage have raised awareness of the antioxidant and urinary health benefits of cranberries. But beyond being aware of healthy products consumers also have to have the power to buy them - and that is now happening in Central and Eastern Europe. "Things are changing with respect to health. People in the big cities have more money to spend."​ Doleman agreed that with higher income comes a general shift in diet. For instance, he believes that the five-a-day message for fruit and vegetables, broadcast loud and clear in the UK for a decade, was being adopted in these countries too. CEE countries have a culture of berry-eating since blueberries are grown there. "They understand berries,"​ said Doleman - and this means people are more likely to be receptive to the very idea of cranberries. Spain, Portugal and Italy on the other hand, which do not have a native berry culture, are some of the most challenging markets for Ocean Spray. In addition, major food manufacturers are making a bee-line for emerging markets like Russia, where consumers have new-found wealth for branded food products. This opens up new opportunities for ingredients firms who have dealings with them in other markets. "We can build on the success of ingredients in other countries,"​ said Doleman, "and ask them 'have you ever considered cranberries?'". ​ Finally, Ocean Spray ITG draws manufacturers' attention to cranberries' versatility - and hence their potential add a new angle to old local favourites. In Poland, for instance, they could be used in makowiec, a typical Polish bakery product. This strategy has already been shown to work in Asia. A new partnership with Taiwanese baker Chia Te, announced this month, will see sweetened dried cranberries used in pineapple cakes. These cakes are a traditional Taiwanese product eaten all year round and is often given as a luxury gift or bought as a souvenir by tourists. Last November China-based ChengDe JinLi Food made a cranberry filling for an innovative kind of mooncake - a seasonal treat consumed during the Mid-Autumn festival, which takes place to honour the mythical moon Goddess of Immortality.

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