Blueberries in Food Product Development
Raise the Bar: Blueberries elevate any bar experience with nutrition, premium value
From snacks to meals, bar formulations increasingly are popular among all segments of the population. In several categories—diet and nutrition, sports, breakfast, snack and meal replacement—bars provide a quick, self-contained, easily consumed food addressing the need for on-the-go-nourishment.
Pardon the play on words but one way to raise the bar is to use blueberries, which add premium value and nutritional appeal. Blueberries offer wholesome and natural attributes and consumers increasingly are recognizing them for their antioxidant, vitamin and even fiber content. Separately, research shows that consumers also are willing to pay extra for products containing blueberries and/or blueberry ingredients.
Appeal for All Ages, Appetites
Given consumers’ growing interest in on-the-go snacking, it’s interesting to note how blueberries fit a range of on-trend types of bars. These include formulations especially targeted for …
… special diets: Blueberries are synergistic with oats, amaranth, buckwheat, chia, millet, quinoa, sorghum, teff, kamut, farro, spelt, etc. With heightened interest in gluten-free products, blueberries are a popular ingredient; their presence lends some of an old-fashioned, home style appeal to gluten-free streusel bars, crumb bars, chewy bars and other related products. Blueberries also can serve as a base ingredient for vegan bars and other special diet bars. They are compatible with nuts and seeds.
… target demographic groups: Blueberries address Millennial consumers’ interests in more natural products, simple clean labels, responsible sourcing and other attributes of trustworthiness and well-being. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers are concerned about health and appreciate blueberries—which are low in calories with virtually no fat—for other reasons. Fruit and fiber, antioxidant-rich bars provide a degree of familiarity with user-friendly comfort.
… functional, better-for-you benefits: Blueberries have soaring popularity in a range of products and these days—with gut health and overall digestion in the news—blueberries continue to star in trendy prebiotic and probiotic formulations. Or how about “beauty bars?” The market for ingestible beauty—food for the skin—is one of the newest application areas for blueberries and blueberry bars. Innovative concepts include “fresh” cosmetics and beauty-health bars. These types of premium bars often are found in refrigerated or freezer sections and they are formulated using blueberry purees, fresh, IQF blueberries.
… regional and savory applications: In a crowded market, more companies are exploring new concepts and textures. Product developers can take advantage of blueberry’s versatility and synergy with a wide range of ingredients, herbs and flavors. Potential abounds for creating bar concepts based on salsas, curries, chutneys and barbecue flavorings; as well as tastes inspired by regional American tastes from Creole, Cajun and Southwestern to California. Blueberries are grown commercially in more than 30 states and sold around the world. Because the fruit is readily identified and enjoyed, its inclusion in regional and international flavor favorites is widely accepted.
Any Form & Function
Ready to get started? There are multiple types of blueberry ingredients available throughout an entire year. With ample availability and versatility, food formulators can select blueberries in various forms—all of which are suited to bar applications.
These include blueberries that are frozen, dried, freeze dried, microwave dried and osmotically preserved. Blueberries also come as drum dried or flash dried powders and in fiber form. Liquid options include blueberry juice concentrate and blueberry essence.
Visit www.blueberrytech.org for formulating details about how particular blueberry types contribute as fillings or particulates; as well as how they can provide fiber, flavor and color. The site offers a wide range of technical details—from ingredient storage to each ingredient’s role within a formulation (with data regarding moisture level, water activity, Brix, pH, etc.)
US Highbush Blueberry Council