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Healthy snacking trend boosts sugar-free fruit ingredients

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+

18-Feb-2014

Healthy snacking trend boosts sugar-free fruit ingredients

Health and wellness trends have boosted fruit ingredient sales, with shapes, inclusions and snacks gaining in popularity, says veteran fruit specialist Paradise Fruits.

The Germany-headquartered company has been around for 130 years, but rebranded from Paradies Früchte to become Paradise Fruits late last year in an effort to gain a broader international market. It produces freeze dried fruit ingredients, including pastes, concentrates, shapes and IQF (individually quick frozen) fruits, as well as vegetable, herb and meat ingredients. According to Euromonitor data, fruit snacks are reaching average global value growth of 5% per year – compared to 4% for extruded snacks and 3% for crisps.

Company sales director, Richard Horsley, told FoodNavigator that the firm recently had started producing fruit juice drops – made from 80% fruit juice, pectin, natural flavouring and, originally, sugar for coating –  in Germany for the European market, after it started to make a similar product in the US about a year earlier.

“No added sugar has been one of the biggest growth areas for this business,” Horsley said. “Fruit snacking has been a big increase…People want health. They want convenience and they want taste.”

The drops can be eaten on their own as a snack, or as inclusions in bakery products, breakfast cereals, snack bars, trail mixes or confectionery – and Horsley says they are particularly appealing to children (and parents) looking for a fruit-based alternative to confectionery.

“You should always have a piece of fruit in the first instance, by all means, but children don’t always want to eat fruit,” he said. “It can introduce children to fruit in a way that’s a step cleaner than confectionery.”

On-trend ingredients…coconut water to coffee

The company also keeps an eye on the latest ingredient trends to come up with new recipes and ranges, working with ingredients like coconut water, which is blended with other ingredients to create freeze dried smoothie bites and clusters.

“We have seen an increase in coffee recently – not just coffee, but coffee flavoured particulates. You can more or less freeze dry anything,” Horsley said, adding that the biggest market for freeze dried products has been ready-to-eat cereals, but the confectionery and bakery sectors have also been driving innovative ingredient combinations.

“There used to be a school of thought that you could watch the beverage category at first and that would follow into dairy and bakery, but that is not always the case. Of course that’s not to take away from what they are doing in confectionery either.”

He said that the market for fruit-based ingredients is split into two main categories – health and indulgence.

“Health is going to be a key driver. No matter what country you look at, you have an obesity problem,” he said. “…But there is still a large school out there that says: “I don’t care what’s in there as long as it tastes good”. Our products tick both boxes.”

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