According to data from Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), the number of foods containing aronia berries as an ingredient has increased from a paltry 2 in 1997, to 101 in 2008, 118 in 2009, and 131 last year.
2011 to date has seen 96 products containing the berries.
Three distinct categories dominate the new product launches: Beverages (non-alcoholic); dairy; and sugar & gum confectionery.
The appeal of aronia has centered on its high antioxidant value, measured in terms of Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC).
Also known as black chokeberry, aronia berries reportedly have an ORAC value of more than 7,300 micromoles per gram. The total anthocyanin content in chokeberries is reported to be around 1,500 mg per 100 g of fresh berries, while the proanthocyanidin content is around 660 mg per 100 grams.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Europe dominates in product launches: The berries are grown extensively across Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and Russia. According to the Agronomy Institute opened at Orkney College in the Scottish Isles, use of the berry was developed for enhancing the diets of Russian astronauts.
Across the pond
Product launches in North America pale in comparison to the European data: A total of only 44 products have been launched in the US with aronia berries as an ingredient since 2008.
Non-alcoholic beverages again dominate, accounting for about 65% of the 25 products launched in 2008 and 2009.
Last year witnessed five sugar & gum confectionery products launched in the US, equivalent to just under 50% of all the products launched.