Food manufacturers have pampered to health-conscious Europeans with a raft of new fruit-based product launches in 2013, with overall fruit ingredient launches up 22% over the preceding year, according to Innova Market Insights.
The UK led the charge in western Europe with 22.1% of products fruit-based, representing a quarter of all fruit ingredient launches in the region, Innova said in the report commissioned by German firm, Paradise Fruits.
Meanwhile in Eastern Europe, Russia dominated with fruit-based releases accounting for 16.6% of the total, followed by Hungary at 15.8% and Poland with 13.5%.
“UK consumers are conscious about what they eat and about the ingredients in their food and this trend is gradually working its way across the globe,” said UK-based Paradise Fruits sales director Richard Horsley.
“In Russia, consumers are becoming more food literate and there is high demand for products with a sweet taste profiles.”
A significant proportion of new launches were found in traditional ‘healthy’ categories, including dairy (13.2%), but baby food recorded the highest annual 5-year growth rate between 2008 to 2013 of 38% (CAGR).
Almost half of all cereal launches contained fruit (47%) in 2013, but the category had a low annual growth rate of 9% compared to spreads (21%) and confectionery (19%). Overall, confectionery accounted for 12.7% of fruit ingredient launches and bakery 12.1%.
Horsley explained, “Fruit ingredients are never there to replace fresh fruit.”
“Manufacturers are very aware of what consumers want and are simply making sure they are in the best position to support the market with a range of formats to support different demographics.”
“The increase in confectionery is mainly within the chocolate category which appeals to consumers’ indulgent nature. There is a distinct divide between consumers who want healthy products and those who want to indulge. Fruit adds both taste and texture to confectionery as well as an element of goodness.”
Consumer palates are evolving with lemon the top ranking fruit flavour found in 28.2% of products. Apple ranked second in 14.7% of products and strawberries a close third (12.8%). Grape had the highest annual growth rate at 24%.
“The emergence of lemon and grape as top generic flavours was a surprise but demonstrates consumer desire to try different things - we’ve already seen it with superfruits,” said Horsley.
The study found 18.4% of all products with fruit ingredients contained ‘no additive/preservative’ claims. Clean label claims (no additives or preservatives and organic) and free from claims (allergy and gluten free) dominated the top 5 passive health claims. Low fat claims were fifth at 7.1%.