Baobab – the African superfruit packing an unparalleled nutritional punch – is being tested by a major player in the cereals sector and is set to feature in a clutch of new launches later this year from granola to chocolate covered fruit snacks.
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA ahead of the Natural Products Expo East trade show, Baobab Foods vice president, product development, Stephan Broburg said the feedback for its baobab powder and new fruit cubes had been “phenomenal”.
He added: “We can’t name names yet, but we can say a major cereal company has begun developing a product with our new Baobest fruit cubes, and numerous companies are considering the fruit cubes for various mixes and retail packages.
“A baobab granola, baobab Powder in canisters, fruit cubes in a retail pack and chocolate covered fruit cubes are tentatively scheduled for Q4 of this year and product launches accelerate in Q1 and Q2 of next year.”
Dietary supplement firms were also excited about baobab, he said.
“We think capsules and powdered drink mixes with baobab as a base can be big categories, especially with the higher antioxidant levels, and as a raw, whole food with exceptional fiber content.”
High in fiber, calcium, potassium and antioxidants
Baobab Foods, a subsidiary of waxes, resins and pigments supplier The Tryline Group, has been working with a range of food and drink manufacturers from small firms to Fortune 500 companies keen to develop products with baobab in recent months, said Broburg.
The new fruit cubes – a blend of baobab fruit powder with citrus pectin and 100% fruit purees (mango, raspberry, strawberry and mixed berry) - work as a standalone fruit snack or could be added to trail mixes and cereals or panned with chocolate, he said.
“Baobab fruit cubes are 100% fruit with no sugar added, 2g of fiber per serving and three to four times more antioxidants than dried cherries, cranberries and blueberries. They are more expensive than dried tart cherries, but less expensive than dried blueberries.”
Lower in sugar and higher in fiber and antioxidants than other dried fruits
As the cubes were naturally sweetened by fruit puree, their sugar content was “significantly lower than that of other dried fruits”, said Broburg.
”At only 14g of sugar per 40g serving, Baobest fruit cubes are 45% lower in sugar than dried tart cherries and 60% lower than dried cranberries.”
100g of fruit cubes contains 5g of fiber, 2g of protein and 40% of the RDA for vitamin C, he added.
Baobab powder, meanwhile, had a higher ORAC value and more fiber, vitamin C, iron, potassium and magnesium than any other fruit powder available on the market, weight for weight, claimed Broburg.
It was also one of the few plant sources of calcium and contained more than 50% fiber, most of which was soluble.
Potential customers also liked the fact that baobab was very easy to work with and came with a positive message: empowering women in rural communities in Africa, he said.
Heat and pH stability
As for heat and acid stability, Afriplex, the South African manufacturer of plant extracts supplying the baobab powder, had “told us that there is about a 7% antioxidant loss in baking, but given the massive number of ORAC in the powder it’s not much of a concern”, he said.
“We know that flavonoids in a moderate pH environment retain many of the antioxidants when exposed to 350F heat for 30 minutes - probably gets to 200F internally – as in a baking application.
“They lose 50% of the antioxidants in a high PH situation. But baobab is naturally high in acidity, so that can help retain antioxidants when exposed to heat. There is no significant impact on heat affecting potassium, magnesium, calcium or fiber levels.”
De-pectinized baobab in an extract form could be made available for formulators wanting a clear beverage or less bulk density to put in a capsule, he added.
“All the nutrients and antioxidants remain intact and only the pectin is removed.”
The pulp, which dries naturally around the baobab fruit’s seeds and is then sieved and milled, does not need further processing (there is no heat extraction, concentration or pasteurization).
The off-white, fruit pulp powder looks like sherbet and has a delicate taste, and can be used in multiple applications from jam, ice cream, frozen desserts, yogurts and smoothies to juices, powdered drinks, cereals, cereal bars and ready-to-drink teas.
Baobab Foods is the exclusive North American importer of baobab products from Afriplex of South Africa.