Superfruit, a marketing term first used in the food and beverage industry in 2005, refers to a fruit which combines exceptional nutrient richness and antioxidant quality with appealing taste that can stimulate and retain loyalty for consumer products.

Resulting from a deliberate business strategy of a manufacturer to bring together marketing, science and potential health value to consumers, a superfruit product is specifically designed in manufacturing and marketing.Crawford K, Mellentin J. Successful Superfruit Strategy: How To Build a Superfruit Business, Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Cambridge, England, July 2008, ISBN:1845695402] [Starling S. Superfruit success not grown on trees, say authors. "", May 2008 [] ]

Keys to marketing a successful superfruit product include the native fruit qualities, scientific evidence supporting a potential health benefit, marketing, protection of intellectual property and developing an appealing strategy to attract consumers. Combined in the right way, these elements may allow a fruit to achieve "critical mass" as a superfruit.

To date, superfruits have been developed mainly as juices, but began in 2007 to appear as single piece products or as ingredients for functional foods, confectioneries and cosmetics. Current industry development includes applications for creating novel consumer products, such as energy drinks, dietary supplements, and flavors with nutrient qualities, e.g. fortified water.

Although used increasingly in new food and beverage products, superfruits have not been defined by scientific criteria that would allow consumers to objectively assess nutrient value and potential for furnishing health benefits. Consequently, the term "superfruit" is used liberally to include a growing list of common and rare fruits, some having sparse scientific evidence for being "super".


The superfruit category is a relatively new marketing approach for promoting common or rare fruits used as raw materials and ingredients for the global industries of functional foods, beverages and nutraceuticals. The fruits have nutritional significance due to their nutrient richness, antioxidant value or anticipated health benefits. Superfruits have commercial significance associated with their novelty of taste, color, number of food or beverage product formats or potential to stimulate future products with innovative packaging and labeling.

The superfoods category is forecast to become a $10 billion global industry by 2011 [McNally A. Superfoods market set to double by 2011. "", August 2007 [] ] with several thousand new superfruit products expected to enter the marketplace in 2007-8. [Facenda VL. Minute Maid, Tropicana, A-B Juiced About Superfruits, "Brandweek", October 2007-8 [] ] According to DataMonitor, superfruit product launches over 2007-8 grew at a rate of 67%.Berry D. Superfruit science. Food Product Design, p 20-7, July 2008. [] ]

Origin and background

In 2004, the term "superfoods" was popularized by a best-selling book discussing 14 whole foods with extraordinary nutrition. [Pratt S, Matthews K (2004). "Superfoods Rx", Harper Collins, New York.] One – the blueberry – became known as a superfruit when its exceptional antioxidant properties were revealed by publication of United States Department of Agriculture assays on antioxidant strength, the oxygen radical absorbance capacity or ORAC for 100 common foods. [Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhardt SE, Prior RL. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. "J Agric Food Chem." 2004 Jun 16;52(12):4026-37. [ Abstract] ] Wild blueberries ("lowbush", "Vaccinium angustifolium") were at the top of the 2004 rankings for fruit. By refinement of the ORAC assay and new analyses published in 2006-7, other berry fruits such as açaí, [Schauss AG, Wu X, Prior RL et al. Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (acai). "J Agric Food Chem." 2006 Nov 1;54(22):8604-10. [ Abstract.] ] wolfberry (goji berry), [Young G, Lawrence R, Schreuder M (2006). "Discovery of the Ultimate Superfood", Essential Science Publishing, Orem, UT] elderberryUnited States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, "Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity of Selected Foods - 2007", November 2007 [] ] and cranberry, have superseded blueberries on the antioxidant rankings, attention possibly caused by growing consumer demand for superfruits.

Indicating industry enthusiasm for novel product development, superfruits have been called "the future of health", [Crawford K. Superfruits, the future of health, "HortResearch New Zealand", October 2006 [] ] "fruits of the future" [Bradley K., Fruits of the future? "Natural Products Insider", July 2007 [] ] , "superheroes of functionality" [Starling S. Superfruits — superheroes of functionality, "Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals", April 2006 [] ] and "heroes in the natural food marketplace". [Cannon R. Superfoods to the rescue!, "Natural Products Marketplace", January, 2008 [] ] More than a dozen industry publications on functional foods and beverages have referred to various exotic or antioxidant species as superfruits (See also) with estimates for some 10,000 new product introductions in 2007-8. [Facenda VL. Minute Maid, Tropicana, A-B juiced about superfruits, "Brandweek", October 2007 [] ]

However, definition of a superfruit remains obscure with no scientific standards or commercial criteria accepted uniformly in the industry.

Working definition

As a term, superfruit may have two meanings according to interest — one for commercial success, and another for health properties. [Gross PM. Superfruits take center stage: defining an emergent category, "Natural Products Information Center", February 2007 [] ] Below, these together combine with other criteria to qualify a superfruit.

A 2007 report combined four of these criteria — nutrient content, antioxidant qualities, medical research intensity and commercial success — giving an approximate rank of enterprise for six exotic superfruits. [Gross PM. Tracking market meteors: exotic superfruits. "Natural Products Insider", November 2007 [] ]

Definition by commercial success or promise of health benefits

A superfruit is thought by many consumers to be any fruit offering value beyond basic nutrition. [Staff Reporter. Wellness foods trends 2007, "", November 2007 [] ] Key criteria for superfruit success appear to include novelty, perceived health benefits, convenience, reliable supply and effective promotion.

Juices and fruit blend beverages are popular for consuming superfruits at present as beverages seem preferred for convenience and product enjoyment. Fruit juice remains one of the only foods consumers still regard as "natural" even when pasteurized and processed.

Additionally, mainstream consumers seem to accept juices of fruits that would not be popular in fresh form, such as noni and pomegranate -- two of the largest selling juices. [Staff Reporter. Wellness foods trends 2007, "", November 2007 [] ] The noni juice market, having grown to more than 300 products worldwide since 1996, represents an industry greater than $2 billion in cumulative sales. [Staff Reporter. Tahitian Noni International, success of nature, "", April 2004 [] ] Earlier reports showed pomegranate-based products grew nearly 400 per cent over 2005-7 from new launches, a gain exceeding all the previous six years. [Runestad T. Functional ingredients market overview, "Functional Ingredients", October 2007 [] ] Similarly, XanGo, a multiple-fruit juice containing mangosteen juice, grew from $40 million in 2002 sales to over $200 million in 2005, [Douaud C. Pressure group denounces superfruit juices, "", October 2006 [] ] with anticipated total sales for 2006-7 of approximately $400 million.

To begin consideration of commercial characteristics that may apply to defining a superfruit are criteria related to market success or promise for gaining health benefits

# Novelty judged by consumers
# Appeal to consumers (visual, aromatic, taste, physical, perceived health benefit)
# Supply by growers, processors and shipping capabilities
# Production by farmers and manufacturers
# Convenience of using the raw material
# Promotion, marketing and distribution
# Creation of a market niche, employing a low-volume, high-value strategy relative to major retail brands [, Focus - soft drinks makers reap superfruit dividend. February 8, 2008 [] ]
# Sales year over year
# Growth potential, innovative new products

One 2007 strategy of manufacturers is to use superfruits to enhance flavor of other products, attempting to mask tastes or provide impressions of novelty and health. [Halliday J. Superfruit flavors get ever more exotic, "", October 2007 [] ] With some 5,000 new products introduced in 2005 on berries alone [Fletcher A. Superfruits set to dominate flavor market, "", March 2006 [] ] and more than 500 new superfruit products launched in 2006, [Staff Reporter. Wellness foods trends 2007, "", November 2007 [] ] the superfruit category is establishing significant commercial presence. DataMonitor includes the superfruit category as one of the top 10 global trends in consumer products for 2008. [Staff Reporter. Fresh, super and organic top trends for 2008, "", November 2007 [] ]

Definition by potential for health properties

Although a superfruit category has not been defined scientifically, its foundation presumably would involve characteristics of 1) high nutrient density, 2) superior antioxidant quality, 3) potential health benefits and/or 4) ease with which the fruit can be further designed through breeding to contain characteristics demanded by consumers, such as flavor, appearance, fragrance and health benefits.

Evidence for these third and fourth criteria would include intensity of the current research effort and/or preliminary evidence for lowered disease risk in human subjects (“disease impact”).

# Nutrient density
# Fulfilling a significant percentage of the Daily Value for a key nutrient(s) by consumption of a single serving
# Antioxidant strength
# Capability to affect other molecules, biomarkers and cell or organ function in a well-designed laboratory experiment
# Capability for horticultural breeding to modify the fruit's characteristics for improved nutrient and/or phytochemical composition
# Intensity of current basic medical research and, if applicable, status of existing human clinical trials
# Potential for preventing or lowering risk of disease

A fruit qualifying for superfruit status may have as many as four exceptional nutrient qualities, such as high contents collectively of prebiotic dietary fiber, vitamin C, polyphenols and carotenoids.Gross PM. Superfruits have signatures. Natural Products Information Center, July 2008 [] ]

Some marketers have suggested that a given superfruit would gain distinction by

* containing valued compounds found in no other fruit
* providing physiological interaction of phytochemicals such as polyphenols, creating a beneficial "cascade effect" of antioxidants
* deriving from a remote geographic region with mystical legends, giving the fruit a "halo of health"

None of these properties, however, is based on truth, as no science exists to support such statements.

Commonly mentioned superfruits

Summarized from References and links in "See Also" representing the 2005-current history of the term "superfruit".

Format: common name, botanical name, main country(ies) of origin supplying the commercial market.

* açaí ("Euterpe oleracea"), Brazil, Venezuela
* blueberry ("Vaccinium angustifolium" and "Vaccinium corymbosum"), Canada (Nova Scotia, Quebec, British Columbia), United States (Maine, New Jersey, Michigan)
* cranberry ("Vaccinium macrocarpon"), United States (Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington, New Jersey), Canada (Quebec, British Columbia)
* goji (wolfberry, "Lycium barbarum"), China
* grape (red, "Vitis vinifera"), parts of central Asia, Europe (native), United States (California)
* guarana ("Paullinia cupana"), Brazil, Venezuela
* mango ("Mangifera indica"), Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia
* mangosteen ("Garcinia mangostana"), Indonesia, South Pacific Islands, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines
* noni ("Morinda citrifolia"), South Pacific Islands
* pomegranate ("Punica granatum"), Mediterranean Region, United States (California)
* sea-buckthorn ("Hippophae rhamnoides"), Asia, Europe

Common berries, such as strawberries ("Fragaria vesca"), red raspberries ("Rubus idaeus") and blackberries ("Rubus ursinus") used for a large number of consumer products, achieve many of the criteria to be superfruits. They are, however, commonly known in the public and have not attracted interest as novelty ingredients, so are not usually included in industry reports as superfruits.

Table of nutrient, antioxidant and research features

The diversity and density of nutrients and antioxidant phytochemicals distinguishing superfruits are complex. To assist orientation to this category, a summary of specific phytonutrient features and examples of research progress are presented below.

^ nearly all superfruit research is in vitro or on laboratory disease models, i.e., at astage preliminary to human clinical trials

+ included due to its growing use as an energy ingredient; n/a, not applicable

Table of qualitative indices for monitoring superfruit development

As commerce for superfruits has evolved rapidly in 2007-8 - estimated to become part of a $10 billion superfoods industry by 2011 [McNally A. Superfoods market set to double by 2011, "", August 2007 [] ] - it is useful to monitor progress of their development. Below are four qualitative indices giving benchmarks for scientific information and commercial progress.

Qualitative estimates of research or commercial success are in relation to each other for these 10 fruits. Commercially, all but guarana are developed mainly as juices or juice blends.

+ included due to its growing use as an energy ingredient; n/a, not applicable

^^ estimate based on number of publications in medical literature

Emerging superfruit candidates

Other superfruit candidates emerging with medical research evidence for high nutrient and antioxidant contents having potential health properties or mentioned in 2006-7 industry reports include those below. References provide research evidence for significant nutrient or phytochemical content or anti-disease properties.

* acerola (Barbados cherry, "Malpighia emarginata", "Malpighia glabra") [Mezadri T, Fernández-Pachón MS, Villaño D, García-Parrilla MC, Troncoso AM. The acerola fruit: composition, productive characteristics and economic importance. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2006 Jun;56(2):101-9. [] ]
* baobab ("Adansonia digitata") [Osman MA. Chemical and nutrient analysis of baobab (Adansonia digitata) fruit and seed protein solubility. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2004 Winter;59(1):29-33. [] ] [Hills S. Baobab goes for GRAS ahead of 2010 World Cup,, September 30, 2008 [] ]
* red bayberry (yumberry, "Myrica rubra") [Fang Z, Zhang M, Tao G, Sun Y, Sun J. Chemical composition of clarified bayberry (Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc.) juice sediment. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Oct 4;54(20):7710-6. [] ] [Bao J, Cai Y, Sun M, Wang G, Corke H. Anthocyanins, flavonols, and free radical scavenging activity of Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra) extracts and their color properties and stability.J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Mar 23;53(6):2327-32. [] ]
* bilberry ("Vaccinium myrtillus") [Lätti AK, Riihinen KR, Kainulainen PS. Analysis of anthocyanin variation in wild populations of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) in Finland. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Jan 9;56(1):190-6. [] ]
* black raspberry ("Rubus occidentalis") [Lu H, Li J, Zhang D, Stoner GD, Huang C. Molecular mechanisms involved in chemoprevention of black raspberry extracts: from transcription factors to their target genes. Nutr Cancer. 2006;54(1):69-78. [ ] ]
* black chokeberry ("aronia", "Aronia melanocarpa") [Lala G, Malik M, Zhao C, He J, Kwon Y, Giusti MM, Magnuson BA. Anthocyanin-rich extracts inhibit multiple biomarkers of colon cancer in rats. Nutr Cancer. 2006;54(1):84-93. [] ]
* blackcurrant ("Ribes nigrum") [Nielsen IL, Haren GR, Magnussen EL, Dragsted LO, Rasmussen SE. Quantification of anthocyanins in commercial black currant juices by simple high-performance liquid chromatography. Investigation of their pH stability and antioxidative potency. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Sep 24;51(20):5861-6. [] ]
* camu camu ("Myrciaria dubia") [Justi KC, Visentainer JV, Evelázio de Souza N, Matsushita M. Nutritional composition and vitamin C stability in stored camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) pulp. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2000 Dec;50(4):405-8. [] ]
* sour (tart) cherry ("Prunus cerasus") [Tall JM, Seeram NP, Zhao C, Nair MG, Meyer RA, Raja SN. Tart cherry anthocyanins suppress inflammation-induced pain behavior in rat. Behav Brain Res. 2004 Aug 12;153(1):181-8. [] ]
* cupuaçu ("Theobroma grandiflorum") [Yang H, Protiva P, Cui B, Ma C, Baggett S, Hequet V, Mori S, Weinstein IB, Kennelly EJ. New bioactive polyphenols from Theobroma grandiflorum ("cupuaçu"). J Nat Prod. 2003 Nov;66(11):1501-4. [] ]
* durian ("Durio kutejensis") [Leontowicz M, Leontowicz H, Jastrzebski Z, Jesion I, Haruenkit R, Poovarodom S, Katrich E, Tashma Z, Drzewiecki J, Trakhtenberg S, Gorinstein S. The nutritional and metabolic indices in rats fed cholesterol-containing diets supplemented with durian at different stages of ripening. Biofactors. 2007;29(2-3):123-36. [] ]
* elderberry ("Sambucus canadensis", "Sambucus nigra") [Thole JM, Kraft TF, Sueiro LA, Kang YH, Gills JJ, Cuendet M, Pezzuto JM, Seigler DS, Lila MA. A comparative evaluation of the anticancer properties of European and American elderberry fruits.J Med Food. 2006 Winter;9(4):498-504. [] ]
* red guava ("Psidium guajava", many species) [Singh RB, Rastogi SS, Singh R, Ghosh S, Niaz MA. Effects of guava intake on serum total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and on systemic blood pressure. Am J Cardiol. 1992 Nov 15;70(15):1287-91. [] ]
* Indian gooseberry (amalaka, amla, "Phyllanthus emblica") [Rajak S, Banerjee SK, Sood S, Dinda AK, Gupta YK, Gupta SK, Maulik SK. Emblica officinalis causes myocardial adaptation and protects against oxidative stress in ischemic-reperfusion injury in rats. Phytother Res. 2004 Jan;18(1):54-60. [] ]
* kiwifruit ("Actinidia deliciosa") [Nishiyama I. Fruits of the actinidia genus. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2007;52:293-324. [] ]
* lingonberry ("Vaccinium vitis-idaea") [McDougall GJ, Ross HA, Ikeji M, Stewart D. Berry Extracts Exert Different Antiproliferative Effects against Cervical and Colon Cancer Cells Grown in Vitro. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 May 14;56(9):3016-23. [] ]
* longan ("Dimocarpus longan") [Sun J, Shi J, Jiang Y, Xue SJ, Wei X. Identification of two polyphenolic compounds with antioxidant activities in longan pericarp tissues. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Jul 11;55(14):5864-8. [] ]
* lychee ("Litchi chinensis") [Li J, Jiang Y. Litchi flavonoids: isolation, identification and biological activity.Molecules. 2007 Apr 11;12(4):745-58. [] ]
* muscadine grape ("Vitis rotundifolia") [Hudson TS, Hartle DK, Hursting SD, Nunez NP, Wang TT, Young HA, Arany P, Green JE. Inhibition of prostate cancer growth by muscadine grape skin extract and resveratrol through distinct mechanisms. Cancer Res. 2007 Sep 1;67(17):8396-405. [] ]
* papaya ("Carica papaya") [Gouado I, Schweigert FJ, Ejoh RA, Tchouanguep MF, Camp JV. Systemic levels of carotenoids from mangoes and papaya consumed in three forms (juice, fresh and dry slice). Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;61(10):1180-8. [] ]
* saskatoon berry ("Amelanchier alnifolia", Nutt) [Ozga JA, Saeed A, Wismer W, Reinecke DM. Characterization of cyanidin- and quercetin-derived flavonoids and other phenolics in mature saskatoon fruits (Amelanchier alnifolia Nutt.). J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Dec 12;55(25):10414-24. [] ]
* tamarind ("Tamarindus indica") [Sudjaroen Y, Haubner R, Würtele G, Hull WE, Erben G, Spiegelhalder B, Changbumrung S, Bartsch H, Owen RW. Isolation and structure elucidation of phenolic antioxidants from Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) seeds and pericarp. Food Chem Toxicol. 2005 Nov;43(11):1673-82. [] ]
* wild cherry (sweet, "Prunus avium") [Serrano M, Guillén F, Martínez-Romero D, Castillo S, Valero D. Chemical constituents and antioxidant activity of sweet cherry at different ripening stages. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Apr 6;53(7):2741-5. [] ]
* yuzu ("Citrus ichangensis x C. reticulata") [Yoo KM, Lee KW, Park JB, Lee HJ, Hwang IK. Variation in major antioxidants and total antioxidant activity of Yuzu (Citrus junos Sieb ex Tanaka) during maturation and between cultivars. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Sep 22;52(19):5907-13. [] ]

Collectively, however, there is insufficient commercial and/or medical research activity to confirm these species as superfruits.

Similarly, as discovered in Australia and Africa, several fruit species mostly unknown to science and commerce have characteristics that may eventually qualify them for superfruit status. [Daniells S. Is Down Under the new Amazon for superfruits? "Functional Ingredients", June 2007 [] ] [Staff Reporter. Australian superfruits next for star status? "Functional Ingredients", September 2007 [] ] [Reporter. Lost African fruits would benefit from technology, says report, "", [] ]



Crawford K, Mellentin J. Successful Superfruit Strategy: How To Build a Superfruit Business, Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Cambridge, England, July 2008, ISBN:1845695402 []

ee also

* [,1,660321.story Sohn E. Superfruits, super powers? "Los Angeles Times", March 10, 2008]
* [ Cosgrove J. Superfruits in the spotlight. "Nutraceuticals World", March 2008]
* [ Mellentin J. Functional foods: key trends to watch, "Nutraceuticals World", November 2007]
* [ Bradley K. Super popular food, "Natural Products Marketplace", August 2007]
* [ Staff Reporter. Amazon superfruits set to boom, "Functional Ingredients", December 2006]
* [ Lidsky D. The superfruits are coming, "", November 2006]
* [ Gross PM. Exploring exotic antioxidant superfruits, "Natural Products Insider", October 2006]
* [ Halliday J. Superfruits could wrestle gut health beverages from dairy, "", October 2006]
* [ Heller L. Superfruits and grains to set next functional trend?, "", February 2006]
* [ Staff Reporter. Demand for exotic fruits set to increase in 2006, "", January 2006]
* [ Mellentin J. Marketing wellness: fruit in the food and beverage industry, "Natural Products Insider", January 2006]
* [ Staff Reporter. Super foods, "Natural Products Online", November 2005]
* [ Search for superfruit articles, "Functional Ingredients", 2005-7]

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