New name gives the aronia berry a chance at superfruit fame

September 5, 2014
3 min read

The small, pea-sized aronia berry  is getting attention as the latest superfood. The aronia berry was originally named the black chokeberry due to its astringent flavor and dark, purple color. Aronia berries are found most often as an ingredient in juice drinks (29%) and in the sugar and gum confectionery category (18%), although use of this ingredient is increasing in other categories such as sweet spreads, hot beverages, and snacks. The majority of products launched using the aronia berry as an ingredient between 2010 and 2014 have been in Europe, with 20% of launches occurring in Germany, 11% in Poland, and 9% in the UK.

Given its tart flavor, the aronia berry is commonly blended with other fruit flavors. In food and drink products launched with aronia berry as an ingredient between 2010 and June 2014, 20% had a strawberry flavor component. Other common flavors included raspberry, apple, pomegranate, and cherry. Only 7% of these products were a chokeberry or aronia berry flavor. Combining aronia berry with other fruits, specifically superfruits known for their antioxidants, will help consumers become more familiar with this fruit.

One of the most promising features of the aronia berry is its high antioxidant content. Previous studies have found that fresh aronia berries have very high levels of antioxidants, especially anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which are responsible for the fruit’s astringent taste.

Although the raw berries may be an excellent source of antioxidants, harsh processing conditions were found to reduce the polyphenol content in aronia berry juice. Even with a relatively strong body of evidence supporting the health benefits of polyphenols, there is still a knowledge gap concerning their behavior in the human body. This lack of clarity is the reason polyphenols have had little success in terms of receiving regulatory backing. Communicating the antioxidant potential of polyphenols has also been made difficult in Europe, with EFSA rejecting all antioxidant health claims and banning the term ‘antioxidant’ itself.

While the use of antioxidant claims are limited in Europe, the majority of European consumers in France, Italy, Spain, and Poland are familiar with antioxidants, with over 94% of consumers from those countries agreeing they had heard of antioxidants before. In the US, only 21% of primary shoppers look for added vitamins/antioxidant claims on food. Recent lawsuits in the US over antioxidant claims will likely negatively impact consumers’ perception of antioxidant claims.

However, products that provide a full serving of fruit or vegetables are sought after by more consumers, with 34% of primary shoppers in the US stating they look for this claim. Indeed, 65% of adults in the US plan to eat more fruits and vegetables this year. Given the focus on increasing consumers’ fruits and vegetable intake, companies might consider promoting the benefits of incorporating a range of produce into consumers’ diets instead of focusing solely on aronia berry’s antioxidant content.

Highlighting the serving(s) of fruits and vegetables in relation to ‘five-a-day’ messaging will prove popular with consumers who struggle to achieve their targeted intake and the inclusion of vegetables in a wider range of products can stealthily help consumers reach their daily targets, thus it can be expected that vegetables will appear in a range of new products. Leveraging the inherent health benefits of fruit and vegetables will help raise the health profile of a product containing fruit or vegetable ingredients.

For more information about how Mintel’s food science insights can help your business, click here.

Stephanie Pauk is a global food science analyst at Mintel. She is enthusiastic to share her food science insights and offer a technical perspective on various topics related to the food industry.

Stephanie Mattucci
Stephanie Mattucci

Stephanie Mattucci is the Associate Director, Food Science at Mintel. Prior to Mintel, Stephanie worked as a food scientist in R&D for an ingredients company.

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