Ocean Spray set to emphasise health at Vitafoods

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cranberry

Ocean Spray plans to reinforce the health benefits behind its
portfolio of cranberry ingredients at this week's Vitafoods
exhibition in Geneva.

The US company, already with a strong presence in Europe with reported sales of over $100m, is using the event to highlight it growing portfolio of cranberry ingredients that can be used in functional food and beverages.

In the spotlight will be the company's sweetened dried cranberries (SDC), which reportedly contain 50 per cent less sugar than the originals, and is also a source of fibre. This, says Ocean Spray, allows manufacturers to produce true 'light' or diet foods and boost health claims by declaring a reduced sugar, high fibre fruit content.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that the company's Craisins sweetened dried cranberries had similar anti-bacterial effects as cranberry juice in the treatment of urinary tract infections.

The company will also be providing samples on their stand at the exhibition, alongside its other cranberry concentrates, juice drinks, and the 90MX cranberry powder.

Ocean Spray is currently riding on the crest of a wave, with demand for cranberries soaring. In April the company announced it would be doubling its production capacity at its Middleboro plant in Massachusets.

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.

In 2004 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 last year it was extended to juice drinks or cordials with a minimum of 27 per cent cranberry, with 300ml consumed each day.

And in 2004, 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 7m to 7.6m 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 $1.4bn in 2004, claims to produce around two thirds of the nation's cranberries.

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