If you’re looking at new product development for your product range, there’s a trend you can’t miss: superfoods. While there is no scientific definition of superfoods, they are all the foods deemed highly nutritious and healthy with a range of benefits. Dates, of course, have established themselves as THE superfruit (superfood), for the reasons we explain below. To take their benefits to the next level, try match-making them with other superfoods that are currently a hot trend on the market.
Dates: THE Superfruit (superfood)
Here are some of the benefits that make date the ultimate superfruit (there’s a reson why nomads have been snacking on dates to survive the harsh desert environment!):
- high in fibre
- low GI and slow release energy
- rich in antioxidants and minerals
- low in fat
- containing some protein
There has been numerous studies done about the medical benefits of dates, and dates have been proven to contribute towards:
- cancer prevention
- ease with labour and pregnancy
- skeletal growth
- digestion and anti-inflammation (Ali et al, 2014)*
Dates have been growing in popularity both as a snack and as an ingredient, for which there are a variety of reasons:
- increasing awareness about detriments of refined sugar on one hand and benefits of natural alternatives (such as dates) on the other
- scientific research about their health benefits
- food influencer advocacy, e.g. by the likes of Deliciously Ella (we’ve fallen in love with her recipe for Date and Pecan Loaf), Livia’s Kitchen (her recently launched Biccy Booms are to die for!) and Madeleine Shaw (her Gingerbread Puddings are a must-make!)
- increased popularity of authentic and ethnic foods, and dates as a staple fruit of the Middle East have quickly charmed taste buds of the Brits
- great versatility of use of dates and date products as natural ingredients in final products, ranging from flapjacks, cereals, sticky toffee puddings to sauces, chutneys, soft drinks – the list has no end. See some of our recipes for inspiration.
As the Innova analysis shows, dates are among top 10 ingredients in the products claiming superfoods. They are used either to make the date flavour claim, but more often as an ingredient with functional properties (binding cereals, providing the base of energy bites, sweetening the product etc.).
Superfruits on the rise
Globally, the number of new products claiming ‘superfoods’ has been rising at 47% CAGR in the last five years. Latin America as a region particularly stands out, where such growth has been 142% as demonstrated in the image below. Latin America, actually, is a hot spot for NPD at the moment, with food industry thriving with innovation and catching up with Europe and North America. In Europe and North America, superfoods claims has grown at 57% and 41% respectively (source: Innova, 2017).
Taking a closer look at the trend, here are some of the most popular superfoods with intensive NPD and innovation taking place worldwide:
- hemp protein
Quite often, such superfoods are used in combination with dates, e.g. in cereal bars, energy protein balls, as well as in cereals and drinks. Consumers increasingly care about what they put in their bodies and superfoods claims are very convincing since superfoods don’t only offer delicious treats, but provide nutritious benefits as well. Considering the busy lifestyle we lead, such demand is more than understandable, and businesses have been responding with strong innovation.
What’s the Next Step for Your Business?
First of all, think about what kind of claims you want to make on your packaging. Do you want to provide high fibre, a lot of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins? Are you interested in claiming anti-inflammatory effects? In such case, consider a thorough analysis of what individual superfoods offer and what kind of claims you can make. Secondly, consider what combination you’ll use them in. Dried fruits (such as dates) and nuts are a very popular match for superfoods because they help contribute towards health claims. If you want to keep the product raw, no added sugar and high fibre, as well as vegan and natural, Date Paste could be solution. If you’re looking for a 100% natural binder for your superfood cereal bars, Date Syrup (Date Juice Concentrate) can be used since it is free from refined sugar and vegan (unlike honey). Innova analysis below shows that indeed vegan claim on products with superfoods is the fourth most popular claim.
Furthermore, do you want to reach out to consumers on the basis of their flavour preferences? Besides the flavours mentioned above, Innova has provided a list of 10 superfoods that have not yet seen many product launches, but are becoming a hot trend and are currently undergoing significant NPD with a high volume of new product launches expected.
If you need any advice or have further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our Beloved team is specialised in NPD and recipe development focused on providing healthy, nutritious final foods. We’ll be able to suggest the most suitable ingredients and their combinations, as well as develop clean, ‘superfood’ claim for your products. If you’re interested in using dates in your products, please contact us for specifications and samples, or register as our online customer to order our date products straight away.
*Ali,A., Waly, M., Essa, M. and Devarajan, S. 2014. Nutritional and Medicinal Value of Date Fruit. Available here.