Added value ingredients: Fruit and vegetable inclusions trend amid health boom

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31 Jul 2018 --- Better-for-you products are driven by health-conscious consumers searching for satiating healthy foods that taste good. Companies are finding success in fruit and vegetable applications. This market dynamic has led to a surge in new product development within potential categories. Consumers are often searching for new ways to incorporate fruits & vegetables into their favorite foods, as a way of boosting the nutritional values of foods and thus making them feel less guilty about their food choices.

Fruit and vegetable applications continue to grow, according to Innova Market Insights. There has been an 8 percent rise in new food and beverage launches featuring fruits and vegetables as ingredients (CAGR 2013-2017). Snacks and bakery foods featuring fruit & vegetable inclusions are featuring across market sub-categories and they are mostly being applied in sweet bakery products such as biscuits and cookies. 

The use of fruit as a replacement for sugar is growing. Dried fruit has natural sugars that are typically perceived as being healthier. Plant-based inspired eating is driving innovation, particularly in snacking. Today’s health-conscious consumer is much less likely to reach for a sugar-laden cake or cookie or high-fat snacks like chips. In the past, there have been misconceptions about fruit and the sugar that they contain.

Fruit and vegetables in beverages
WILD Flavors & Specialty Ingredients (WFSI), a business unit of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), has developed new attention-generating concepts for still drinks and juices. They feature different juice contents and distinctive blends of fruits and vegetables, which have been customized to specific target groups and consumption occasions.

There has been continued growth in beverages that feature vegetables. In addition to beverages with carrot, which has been popular for years, an increasing array of modern types of vegetables have established themselves and given fruit juices new flavor profiles: examples include beet, cucumber and pumpkin. In a sense, they are the next generation of multivitamin ACE drinks. In these days of street-food festivals, homemade smoothies, on-the-go products and craft beverages, consuming vegetables in other formats has never been trendier.

Click to EnlargeWFSI has been focusing on fruit & vegetable combinations for many years now: this ADM business unit developed the first multivitamin ACE drink nearly 20 years ago, has been intimately familiar with the juice segment for decades, and creates new trends and standards on a regular basis. Its Fruit&Veggie product portfolio combines the very best that vegetables and fruits have to offer: healthy ingredients and beautifully balanced flavors. WFSI has now composed several new Fruit&Veggie concepts for still drinks as well as beverages with a high juice content. All of these innovations combine the classic and new flavor concepts and are compelling in their distinctiveness. This gives manufacturers a way to distinguish themselves from their competitors and appeal to a broader target group.

Gat Foods develops and produces integrated solutions as well as raw materials for the fruit beverage industry worldwide. International Brand Manager at Gat Foods, Hila Bentman tells FoodIngredientsFirst: “The sugar tax [in effect in the UK since April 2018] is a big issue and there’s still a long way to go till consumer's palate will get used to a less sweet taste profile. At Gat Foods we have a whole range of sugar reduced solutions for beverages from diet, to mid-calories, reduced calories, or drinks that are formulated to be less sweet as is.”

“The industry is working its way around the sugar tax, sometimes defined and applied differently in different countries,” she says. 

For Bentman, classic fruity drinks represent the “most potential in the developing markets,” including orange, lemon and various citrus flavors, as well as apple and tropical fruits.

“However, better-for-you applications represent a good potential in the already developed countries including trends are clean label, natural energy drinks, reduced-sugar and vitamin enrichment,” she notes. 

Using fruit ingredients in beverages helps Gat Foods in formulating solutions (compounds and bases) for rich and appealing fruit-based drinks. “Many trends are influencing the development of food and beverage, but some are more mainstream and influential than others. Price and taste would always be the main factors influencing consumers' consumption habits, but we do witness how health & wellness trends cross continents and countries in many ways,” says Bentman.

“We are often asked by our clients to provide different solutions, from 100 percent fruit concentrate, smoothies, fruit drinks enriched by minerals and vitamins and ‘superfruit’ drinks, including seaberries and pomegranate,” she adds. 

“There is also a demand to ‘adultify’ fruit-based beverages by providing more sophisticated tastes, which are less sweet and perhaps bitter, sometimes with the inclusion of floral and herbal flavors,” Bentman notes.

“Globetrotters who are seeking exotic fruits also impact fruit inclusion in beverages, sometimes niche flavors, which until recently they didn't know about. Generally speaking, fruit is now featured in many categories, creating cross-category hybrids: energy drinks, water, milk, tea, beer and even wine. Fruits are ideal for beverage since they add a natural, sweet and refreshing taste to all drinks,” claims Bentman.

Dried fruits
“There’s a real key challenge in that dried fruit is linked with sugar. Because dried fruit has a sugar content, it’s sometimes said to be bad for you, which is completely wrong. The industry has to work hard to make people understand that dried fruit is inherently good for them and there’s a difference between added sugar and natural sugar,” Simon Brown, Managing Director of John Morley tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

When it comes to trends around fruit inclusion, Brown believes the movement away from added sugar is key.

“The use of fruit as a replacement for sugar is definitely growing,” he says. “Fruit-based snacking and bars have got close on 10 percent growth over a year and we can only expect that to continue.”

“Most consumers see dried fruit as extremely natural. Which is why organic dried fruit doesn’t sell massively in comparison to normal dried fruit. People see dried fruit as natural, full-stop,” he stresses.

“Nutritionally, there is little or no difference between dried and fresh fruit. The only difference is the removal of water from the product,” he adds.

“Dried fruit has an excellent shelf-life, in most cases a minimum of 12 months. Dried fruit can also be rehydrated by adding water to increase shelf-life,” Brown notes. 

“The big area is in sustainability and being able to achieve farm to fork. Fresh fruits and vegetables definitely have the edge over dried fruit in that respect. They’re further on in terms of working directly with the farm growers. The dried fruit industry is catching up, but it still has a little bit to do,” he concludes. 

You can read last week’s Key Interview with Brown here

By Elizabeth Green

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