Superfruits are created by progressive product strategy and have little to do with the far-flung location in which they might be grown or even their nutritional payload, according to a new book.
"People think superfruits are found just growing in an exotic forest somewhere. That's just not true - you can create a superfruit," says one of the authors, Karl Crawford, who is business leader for health food at New Zealand-based food researcher HortResearch.
The book, called "Successful Superfruit Strategy - How to build a superfruit business" is co-authored with food industry analyst and consultant, Julian Mellentin, and points to the superfruits category as one with near unlimited potential.
Yet only a few fruits have crossed over from whole fruit commodities to genuine 'superfruit' status, despite overall growth of 40-100 per cent at a time when fresh fruit sales such as apples and pears are stagnant or falling in many countries.
Goji, mangosteen and acai are some of the more high-profile superfruits that have established a strong presence in western markets. Usually in the form of fruit juices, they can command price premiums 20 or times that of staple juices such as orange, apple and pineapple.
The book highlights keys to succeeding in the superfruits market that include fruit quality, science, marketing, IP protection and understanding the broader consumer environment.
Combined in the right way, these elements may allow a fruit to achieve "critical mass" as a superfruit.
They also note how many superfruits are moving into the ingredient sector and scan the industry for current and rising players.
"It is important to understand how existing superfruits earned their status so we can understand how to create more," said Mellentin.
"You're talking about niche products that sell at very high premiums in relatively low volumes. They reflect the diversity of consumer demand for functional foods, therefore there needs to be a large number of them, just as there are a large number of health and wellbeing issues consumers want to target through their diet."
Mellentin said superfruits had become established in the food shopping and dietary experience. Because they tended to be high in antioxidants, they were suited for specialist market sectors that were yet to be fully realised.
"They are a fundamental part of strategy for beverages, fresh fruit and fruit ingredients and are shaping up to also play a very important role in developing new, natural sports nutrition products," he said.