Ocean Spray Ingredient Technology Group (ITG), which introduced its new product at the FiE exhibition in Paris last week, said it contains half the sugar and more than twice the fiber of its original sweetened dried cranberry (SDC) product.
The company claims its new 'less sugar high fiber' SDC has the same processing performance and appearance of the original product, but contains no artificial sweeteners and also has a lower glycemic index, as some of the sugar content has been replaced by fructose.
"The use of a combination of complex carbohydrates, which act as a soluble fiber source, are what lend the product some of its sweetness," said the company's process development director Sila Cansever.
"Another advantage is that the product can endure much processing and handling, unlike many other dried fruits that might bleed. This makes it ideal for use in applications such as cereal bars," she told FoodNavigator-USA.com.
According to Cansever, the new product will especially appeal to the bakery and cereal industries, which are looking to develop low sugar goods in an ongoing effort to combat obesity.
The new SDC can also be used in applications such as energy bars, salad toppings, fruit and nut mixes and yogurts, said the company.
"These latest launches are an ideal way for food manufacturers to enter the fast growing health food market, adding value through incorporating real fruit without boosting sugar quantities," said Arun Hiranandani, the company's global marketing manager.
The popularity of cranberries has been increasing in recent years as a combination of strong marketing campaigns and a body of scientific evidence revealing the fruit's health benefits have contributed to growing consumer awareness and interest in the product.
The fruit has long been considered an effective method of fighting urinary tract infections, something that has led to almost one third of parents in the US giving it to their children, according to a recent study.
Last year France became the first country to approve a health claim for the North American cranberry species vaccinium macrocarpon, which states that it can 'help reduce the adhesion of certain E.coli bacteria to the urinary tract walls'.
Initially the claim was only valid for products using the fruit concentrate or extract in powder form as it required daily consumption of 36mg, but in February of this year it was extended to juice drinks or cordials with a minimum of 27 percent cranberry, with 300ml consumed each day.
And last year, further evidence emerged to demonstrate the fruit's positive effect on heart health. The study, presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Society's Annual Congress in Calgary, showed that the cranberry improves circulation by increasing the level of HDL, or good cholesterol and acting as a powerful antioxidant.
The US and Canada currently produce about 7 to 7.6 million 100-pound barrels of cranberries every year, and the figure is "growing steadily," according to Chris Phillips, an Ocean Spray spokesperson.
The company, which reported gross sales in the region of $1.4 billion last year, claims to produce around two thirds of the nation's cranberries.
"We are growing as a company, partly because of the health benefits of the cranberry, which is a major platform for growth. It has clearly become a stronger part of our marketing message than before as it is our responsibility as market leader to interpret some of the sound science being published," said Phillips.