Product developers at a “very large confectionery company”, a smoothie maker, a babyfood manufacturer and several cereal bar makers are conducting trials of products containing powder from the pulp of the African baobab fruit.
Speaking to FoodManufacture.co.uk ahead of the UK launch of the first baobab lemonade (see below), the firm recently appointed UK distributor for the exotic fruit powder said the level of interest had been “incredible”.
Organic Herb Trading Company director Gary Rumbold said: “We’ve had the most interest from manufacturers of cereal bars, but it works well in everything from juices and smoothies to ice cream, jam and tea.”
He added: “We had one request for samples from the NPD team at a very large confectionery company so we are waiting with baited breath to see what happens with that. Baobab works particularly well in chocolate.”
The off-white, fruit pulp powder looks like sherbet and has an unusual ‘caramel pear’ taste, said Rumbold. It also acts as a flavour enhancer, and could potentially help manufacturers reduce sugar in some applications, he added.
“It’s got a really distinct, refreshing taste, but also enables companies to make nutrition claims such as ‘high fibre’.”
Baobab pulp powder is also rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, calcium and iron and high in antioxidants.
At £19 a kilo (or £21.50 for organic), it wasn’t cheap, accepted Rumbold, but it was a premium product. “Typically, you need about 10% but it varies according to the application.”
The first baobab products to hit UK shelves are from Yozuna, a Devon-based firm producing Fairtrade baobab fruit jam, baobab and chocolate spread, baobab and banana spread and baobab powder for home cooking.
A baobab lemonade was next in the pipeline, Yozuna director Malcolm Riley told FoodManufacture.co.uk. “Full production starts this week.”
Yozuna, which has recently started working with Tree of Life - a leading supplier of organic and natural products to independent health food stores – is now looking for a manufacturer to produce its jam under contract, he said.
“At the moment, we’re producing it on a small scale. We’re talking to manufacturers about making it for us on a contract basis, but we are also considering moving into an industrial unit and doing it ourselves.”
Scale would be vital if talks with larger chains were to progress, he said. “We’ve got a meeting scheduled with the Co-op Group and we’re in talks with Holland & Barrett, so things are looking very promising.”
Novel Food approval
Now that baobab pulp has been approved under the EU Novel Food Regulation, UK manufacturers are free to use it in a wide variety of foodstuffs from drinks to snacks.
It is supplied via a partnership between trade association PhytoTrade Africa and Afriplex, a South African manufacturer of plant extracts.