Rising demand for healthy 'superfoods' rich in antioxidants and fibre has influenced large companies such as Tesco, Sainsbury's and Nestlé to find ways of incorporating berry fruits - cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries - into their products in order to market them from a health platform.
According to Mintel's Global New Product Database (GNPD), Nestlé launched eight new fruit baked goods in the period January 2005 - May 2006 while British supermarket chain Sainsbury's released 13.
In total, 32 new berry-containing bakery products hit shelves in the UK so far this year and 143 have been launched since January 2005.
One of Tesco's newest products, mixed berry muffins, priced at £0.99 (€1.43), contain blueberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants, all of which have been found to have significant health benefits.
Due to their high content of antioxidants, in particular the compound pterostilbene, it has been suggested that blueberries help prevent heart disease, a range of cancers and neurodegenerative disease as well as being an effective tool for lowering cholesterol and guarding against medical conditions associated with aging.
In line with spiraling demand, sales of blueberries have increased by 130% in the last two years. According to UK supplier BerryWorld, figures show an increase from £10.3m (€14.9m) in 2003 to almost £40m (€58m) in 2005. Raspberries have also enjoyed a significant increase in sales, research undertaken by AC Nielsen shows a 62% growth.
To meet demand, Sainsbury's launched their range of raspberry flavour tarts, retail price £0.20 (€0.32), in May of last year.
Both raspberries and cranberries are particularly favoured by manufacturers as their health properties remain relatively intact during processing. The antioxidant content of raspberries is not reduced by storage or manufacturing into jam while according to ingredients company J.O Sims, cranberries are the most process tolerant fruit.
Strawberries, which are high in vitamin C and the antioxidant ellagic acid, have also benefited from a greater awareness of health issues - sales for the berries have increased by 34% in the last two years. Data source: Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD)