The skin and flesh of colourful fruit such as cranberries, blackberries and the superfood açai berries is rich in vitamin C as well as in natural compounds called anthocyanins. The juice extracted from these berries is brightly coloured, has a distinct flavour profile and potent antioxidant properties. The global juice market is complex. Whilst products able to make specific health claims or offer unusual flavour or nutrient profiles have continued to do well, consumers have grown sceptical of the intrinsic health benefits of more traditional products like orange juice, which contain a substantial amount of sugar. Recent UK consumer media coverage has criticised household-brand orange juices for their high sugar content and there have even been recommendations that fruit juice should not count towards a person’s “five a day.” There is a clear opportunity for beverage manufacturers to leverage the rich colour and health benefits of berries to create 100% juices that both taste great and support a balanced diet. In fact, the beverage sector has already seen an increase in consumer demand for antioxidant-rich açai, goji and aronia berry drinks.
Meeting consumer brand demand: more high-quality functional ingredients needed
Taste and health-giving properties are not the only attributes that consumers look for when reaching for fruit juice. Convenience has become an increasingly important consideration when buying food products. Given that 80% of British adults admit to struggling to keep up with the recommended “five a day”, the attraction of a high-quality fruit juice or smoothie that counts as one or two portions is clear. Market research confirms this, indicating that, while sales of fruit juice remain static at a high level throughout Europe and North America, in Asia, South America and North Africa they are going from strength to strength. Low-acid and not-from-concentrate juices have recorded the highest growth rates in these regions, with a shift towards highquality products with antioxidants and other functional ingredients similar to that previously seen in Europe and North America.
Enzymes: add a little, do a lot
Given these market conditions, it is no surprise that there is an increase in the number of consumers wanting fresh, healthy juice made from blue and red berries. However, unknown to most people, when berries are squeezed, only some of the antioxidants and juices are released. So a special enzyme designed to break down the skin and tissues of these delicate fruits is needed to extract more from them. Manufacturers using these enzymes can actually double the level of antioxidants made available in the juice, compared to not using enzymes. Also, if coloured berry juice was produced in Europe and North America without the help of enzymes, the cost of producing the juice concentrate would be about 20% higher, potentially making it less accessible to consumers seeking the health-giving properties and great taste of berry-based juices. That would be a real shame for families already contending with the rising cost of living.