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Baobab to hit the big time next year, predicts Mintel

By Jess Halliday , 24-Nov-2008
Last updated on 25-Nov-2008 at 14:28 GMT2008-11-25T14:28:07Z

Dried baobab pulp, which gained novel foods approval for the EU in June, could be the headline superfruit of 2009, according to Mintel.

Boabab is the fruit of the Adansonia digitata, (or 'upside-down') tree, which grows primarily in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The fruit, which has a long history of use in Africa, is understood to have a high antioxidant content.

The main nutrients include vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, pectin and citric, malic and succinic acids, while the oil also contains the vitamins A, D and E.

Since the fruit gained novel foods status this year, it can now be used in a range of food products, including cereal bars and smoothies – and the indications are that food makers are very interested.

“Each year, there’s one hot new superfruit and this year, exotic baobab seems to be the one,” said Mintel.

Its confidence is shared by Afriplex, the South African supplier that petitioned for the approval, together with trade association Phytotrade Africa.

In a recent interview with FoodNavigator.com William Smith, marketing manager of Afriplex said: “The response from major food companies has been absolutely phenomenal”.

In additional to the novelty factor, Smith drew attention to the sustainable and fair trade aspects. Boabab is wild harvested, and the benefits of the commerce are channeled to the communities that need it.

Afriplex is also pursuing GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status in the US.

The spotlight is expected to be particularly intense on foods and flavours of Africa in the run up to the 2010 football (soccer) world cup, to be hosted by South Africa.

Quinoa

Another food expected to excel next year is quinoa.

There has already been some evidence of food manufacturers exploring quinoa as a meat analogue; and consumers are intrigued by its status as an ancient grain.

“[Quinoa] was hot last year as an ancient grain, but Mintel believes it has more potential than just that,” it told FoodNavigator.com.

“It is a complete protein containing all eight essential amino acids and it can be used in gluten-free products. It’s adventurous, but it’s also easy to prepare, making it a good fit for ordinary cooks.”

Natural on-going

Natural ingredients are also gaining ground, as “people want to understand what is in the products they buy to eat or use on their bodies or in their homes”.

The market research firm cites stevia as an important – and very current – example; said to be up to 300 times as sweet as sucrose (sugar), the competition has been hotting up of stevia-derived sweeteners as food and beverage firms chase the golden chalice of FDA-affirmed GRAS.

Product labels may also start to bear more explanations of ingredients, especially those with the most scientific-sounding names.

“We can also expect to see explanation of ingredients’ functions,” Mintel said.

Mintel has also made some predictions for ingredients trends geared towards functional foods and dietary supplements. Please see the parallel article on our sister site NutraIngredients.com.

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