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Superfruit is a marketing term first used in the food and beverage industry in 2005. Superfruit has no official U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) endorsement. The designation of a fruit as a superfruit is entirely up to the product manufacturer.
Resulting from a deliberate business strategy of a manufacturer to bring together marketing, science and potential health value to consumers, a superfruit product is specifically designed in manufacturing and marketing.
Keys to marketing a successful superfruit product include the native fruit qualities, scientific evidence supporting a potential health benefit, marketing, protection of intellectual property and developing a strategy to attract consumers. Combined in the right way, these elements may allow a fruit to achieve "critical mass" as a superfruit.
To date, superfruits have been developed mainly as juices, but began in 2007 to appear as single piece products or as ingredients for functional foods, confectioneries and cosmetics. Current industry development includes applications for creating novel consumer products, such as energy drinks, dietary supplements, and flavors with nutrient qualities, e.g. fortified water.
Although used increasingly in new food and beverage products, superfruits have not been defined by scientific criteria that would allow consumers to objectively assess nutrient value and potential for furnishing health benefits. Consequently, the term superfruit is used liberally to include a growing list of fruits having sparse scientific evidence for being "super" other than being relatively unknown to common consumers.
The superfruit category is a relatively new marketing approach for promoting common or rare fruits used as raw materials and ingredients for the global industries of functional foods, beverages and nutraceuticals. The fruits may have nutritional significance due to their nutrient content, antioxidant value or anticipated health benefits. Superfruits have commercial significance associated with their novelty of taste, color, number of food or beverage product formats or potential to stimulate future products with innovative packaging and labeling.
In 2007, the superfoods category was forecast to become a billion dollar global industry by 2011, with several thousand new superfruit products expected to enter the marketplace in 2007–8. According to DataMonitor, superfruit product launches over 2007–8 grew at a rate of 67%.
Indicating industry enthusiasm for novel product development, superfruits have been called "the future of health", "fruits of the future", "superheroes of functionality" and "heroes in the natural food marketplace". More than a dozen industry publications on functional foods and beverages have referred to various exotic or antioxidant species as superfruits with estimates for some 10,000 new product introductions in 2007–8.
However, definition of a superfruit remains obscure with no scientific standards or commercial criteria accepted uniformly in the industry.
As a term, superfruit may have two meanings according to interest – one for commercial success, and another for health properties. Below, these together combine with other criteria to qualify a superfruit.
A superfruit is thought by many consumers to be any fruit offering value beyond basic nutrition. Key criteria for superfruit success appear to include novelty, perceived health benefits, convenience, reliable supply and effective promotion.
Juices and fruit blend beverages are popular for consuming superfruits at present as beverages seem preferred for convenience and product enjoyment. Fruit juice remains one of the only foods consumers still regard as "natural" even when pasteurized and processed.
Additionally, mainstream consumers seem to accept juices of fruits that would not be popular in fresh form, such as noni and pomegranate – two of the largest selling juices. Tahitian Noni began selling noni juice in 1996, and claims billions of dollars in sales during their first 10 years of operation. Earlier reports showed pomegranate-based products grew nearly 400 per cent over 2005-7 from new launches, a gain exceeding all the previous six years. Similarly, XanGo, a multiple-fruit juice containing mangosteen juice, grew from $40 million in sales in 2002 to $200 million in 2005.
One strategy used by manufacturers has been to employ superfruits to enhance the flavor of food products, attempting to mask tastes or provide impressions of novelty and health. With some 5,000 new products introduced in 2005 on berries alone and more than 500 new superfruit products launched in 2006, the superfruit category is establishing significant commercial presence. DataMonitor included the superfruit category as one of the top 10 global trends in consumer products for 2008.