Health-conscious Asia delivers for Ocean Spray ingredients

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cranberry, Asia

Ocean Spray has reported huge growth in sales of cranberry
ingredients to the Asia-Pacific market in the past 12 months, as
health-conscious are tuning in to the red berry's health benefits.

The company's Ingredient Technology Group (ITG) has been putting in place structures to help it make the most of the Asian potential. According to global marketing manager Arun Hiranandani, it has well-established links with agents across the region, and it has built on these this year with new representatives in Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines. It seems this strategy is already yielding results. Sales in Asia have grown by some 30 per cent in the last year, it says, although no precise figures were available at time of publication. In Europe, where cranberry has a long head-start in recognition, combined sales of branded cranberry products and ingredients from ITG have exceeded US$100m (c €68.3m). Moreover, it takes heart from a market report from Global Industry Analysts, published in September, which predicts that the Asian functional foods market will reach $109bn (€74.4bn) by 2010. Interest in cranberry's antioxidant content and the anti-bacterial proanthocyanin is in line with a general interest in the functional foods and drinks category, which is moving from niche to mainstream. Manufacturers, they are seeking out naturally healthy ingredients that can lend a point of differentiation to a product. Hiranandani said that new cranberry products are emerging "at a rapid pace"​ to cater to the demands of an emergent middle class for world-class products. When it comes to marketing these products, the company says that the scientific evidence to support cranberry's health benefits is very helpful. In addition to cranberries' well-documented benefits in the area of urinary health, recent research has included a study by researchers from St. Francis College, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and New York University which found the first evidence that cranberry juice could have an anti-viral effect, neutralising bacteriophages T2 and T4 and the simian rotavirus SA-11. (Phytomedicine​ Volume 14, Issue 1, Pages 23-30). Scientists in Israel have also reported from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 177 female patients with the ulcer- and cancer-causing Helicobacter pylori​ infection that cranberry juice may enhance the power of antibiotics to clear the stomach. (Molecular Nutrition & Food Research​ Volume 51, Issue 6, Pages 746 - 751) Last month Ocean Spray ITG drew attention to the launch of an innovative but typically Asian product launch using its dried sweetened cranberries: the mooncake. Mooncakes are distributed throughout the country during the Mid-Autumn festival, which takes place to honour the mythical moon Goddess of Immortality. Although the festival remains an in important date in the Chinese calendar, in recent years mooncake manufacturers have had to face the problem of declining demand as consumers shun the high fat delicacy in favour of healthier options. Traditionally the cakes are made from lotus seed paste and yolks from salted duck eggs, along with any combination of other ingredients such as duck, pork and mushroom, together with considerable amounts of lard and sugar.

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