Grape juice giant Welch’s eyes supplements industry with FruitWorx
In the past few years it seems like every other product launched in the supplements category is in gummy form. This trend is benefiting veteran companies in the fruit and jelly sphere, such as grape juice giant Welch’s.
“We’ve been in a bottle for 146 years, in a bottle of juice or jar of jelly. This is the opportunity for us to go outside the bottle,” Wayne Lutomski, VP of International & Global Ingredients at Welch’s, told NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Ingredients Marketplace show in Orlando.
In comes FruitWorx, a new ingredient Welch’s launched at IFT last year to market fruit pieces made by juice purees heated in high temperature, taking out the moisture to leave behind fruit solids. The 8-month old product was launched so that the juice company can get into various new applications it never had before – confections, dairy, baked goods, and even supplements.
A chance in the “active lifestyle craze”
As more consumers want to Instagram their hiking selfies and go grocery shopping in athletic wear, sports nutrition is also gaining favor, and that’s a category Welch’s thinks FruitWorx can excel.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re at this show,” Lutomski said about exhibiting at the Ingredients Marketplace, where a panel of analysts just presented how the mainstream consumer is starting to embrace sport nutrition products in their everyday lives.
Displayed at their booth are a variety of prototype gummies. One jar featured strips of FruitWorx infused with creatine. “The beauty of FruitWorx is, this is 100% fruit, and this is a new way to consume your fruit, but you can infuse it with items,” he said. “We can provide a new delivery system for these type of items.”
In its century of existence, interest in Welch’s grapes as a functional ingredient delivering more than just vitamins or cardiovascular benefits seemed to have kicked off only in recent years, and only for its concord grape variety.
For example, a study published in the March 2016 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, partially funded by Welch’s, found that drinking concord grape juice may benefit cognitive function in busy mothers of preteen children.
“It’s very early research, but we’re starting to do research in these new areas,” said Casey Lewis, Health & Nutrition Lead at Welch’s. “Blood sugar control is another area we’re interested in—all those benefits have been linked back to the polyphenols in the skin and seeds of concord grapes.
“So with the Niagara grape, though they don’t have the same plant polyphenol profile in the skins, they have the same in the seeds,” she added.
But is there any nutritional advantage of having grapes in FruitWorx gummy form over juice or—just as a grape? “We still haven’t done the research on that yet, so that’s still to be determined,” Lutomski said. “What we do know is that the polyphenol content transfers over.”