Remember “superfruits?” Before the 2008 economic meltdown, the trendiest ingredients were those exotic produce items called “superfruits.” A formulator could almost bet on success of a product with any colorful and exotic fruit – especially the red, blue, and purple ones – that came loaded with powerful phytochemicals and nutrients like antioxidants, polyphenols, and anthocyanins.

While mainstream fruits such as raspberries and blueberries still held their own, açaí, pomegranates and their ilk ruled. Consumers paid a premium for foods and beverages containing vibrant and unpronounceable produce. Then the economy tanked and folks couldn’t as readily afford, say, a fruit smoothie made with dragonfruit and goji. And whatever happened to mangosteen?

Whether bellwether of an improved economy or not, recent food and nutrition expos reveal that exotic fruits are coming back. Mintel recently reported a 202% rise in foods and beverages wearing the more general “superfood” moniker in the five years ending in 2015, noting that last year alone saw a 26% jump. Robert Schueller of Melissa’s World Variety Produce confirms the trend, noting that passionfruit, dragonfruit, yum berries, rambutan, acerola, aronia berries, pichu berries (also called cape gooseberries, goldenberries and Inca berries), and other exotics are in greater demand than ever. And jackfruit—those spiky green rugby-ball shaped fruits weighing up to 100 lb.—is showing up everywhere.

At last month’s Healthy and Natural Show in Chicago, Amafruits LLC was touting those Amazon-sourced nutritional amazons, açaí, acerola, cupuaçu, guarana, and graviola. Two months before that, the Natural Products Expo West, in addition to the usual flood of coconut water and chia, exhibited foods and beverages that included pichu, acerola, aronia, and the aforementioned jackfruit (more than half a dozen products, in fact). And, less foreign but just as exotic, the old hippie standbys wheatgrass, bee pollen, and cactus pear are back.

For processors, using unusual produce can be a challenge, but the best advice comes from Fiona Posell, of Produce Communications Inc. (and the genius who almost single-handedly brought pomegranates from esoteric obscurity to appearing in juices, bars, cereals…well, everything short of aluminum siding): “Stay true to the fruit; keep the flavors as pure and authentic as possible; and develop products to enhance its best attributes.”

Oh, and mangosteens? A naturally occurring but harmless yellow discoloration gamboge from years of heavy rainfall hampered exports and drove up costs. But the good news, according to Melissa’s Schueller, is that a bumper crop of mangosteen and many other fruits (super and otherwise) is hitting the market even now. Developers, it’s time to get creative!

Register Today!
August 16-17, 2015
Lombard, Ill.

Opening Keynote Address
Ingredients and Ingredient Trends….Driving New Formulations!
Keynote Speaker: Lynn Dornblaser, Director, Innovation & Insights, Mintel

A global insights leader, Mintel Group routinely analyzes and reports on new finished product trends and tastes. As an exclusive for Prepared Foods, Mintel Director of Innovation Insights Lynn Dornblaser steps back to look at the actual ingredients + ingredient trends that are driving finished product trends. Why have certain ingredients emerged to take the spotlight? What new ingredients may be driving trends in 2017? Dornblaser uses retail and foodservice and even global research to look at the immediate past, present and future.

40+ Technical Sessions
This 12th annual event is laser focused on providing food & beverage formulators with practical, non-commercial, “how-to” solutions to specific formulation and application challenges to better understand the functionality of a wide range of ingredients.

Six Application Labs
The Application Labs feature the use of product samples to more effectively demonstrate an ingredient’s functionality or its use in a finished consumer product or model system.

Seven Hours of Networking and Exhibits
You will have plenty of time to network face-to-face with industry peers and ingredient experts. Continue conversations that began in the classroom during breakfast, breaks, lunch and Expo Happy Hour. Solve your formulation challenges.

For more information, visit or contact Marge Whalen at 847-405-4071 or