No sign of a baobab boom - yet
Mintel predicted that dried baobab fruit pulp would make a big impact on the European market after it gained novel foods approval last June, but the fruit has yet to make an appearance in new product launches.
Lynn Dornblaser, director of CPG Trend Insight at Mintel said: “What is really interesting is what has not been happening with baobab. We expected that we would see something with baobab in Europe by now, but it has not yet worked its way into products, which is a big surprise.”
Trade association Phyto Trade Africa insisted that the fruit has generated a lot of interest from global food companies, blaming the delay on the R&D process of those companies.
“Many of the larger global companies we have been talking with have operations in the US and needed to ensure that baobab got approval there as well as the EU,” Phyto Trade Africa spokesperson Dr Lucy Welford told FoodNavigator.com.
“They tend to be very risk adverse and so they have only carried out the minimum R&D. Now US approval has been granted, they will go back and carry out more in depth R&D.”
Cyril Lombard, head of Market Development at Phyto Trade Africa, pointed out that the recession has slowed down the launch of new products generally.
“We are pleased with the large number of interested companies who are carrying out product research and development with our Baobab fruit products,” he said
“The number that are converting to product launches might be less than expected but this seems to be the trend with all new product development due to the economic crisis.”
Welford said that another limiting factor could have been the fact that baobab is “almost too exotic”, pointing out that people are more cautious in an economic downturn.
She added that the R&D process might take a bit longer because some “fancy footwork” is required in the formulation of the pulp due to its dry, powdery consistency.
Phyto Trade Africa is confident that, having achieved GRAS approval in the US, baobab will start appearing in new product launches next year.