Taura has stood out in the fruit pieces space thanks to its proprietary Ultra Rapid Concentration process, which extracts moisture from fruit in a precise manner that can be applied to purees and pieces. According to the company it requires no additional bulking agents, flavors, colors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
The process also keeps much of a fruit’s natural pectin intact, though many of Taura’s clients would opt to add more fruit-derived pectin for a firmer finished product.
The company has evolved, said John Luebbers, VP of business development. “We have been a processed fruit piece ingredient. Then in the last eight or nine years, we started to make fruit snacks,” he told us at the SupplySide East show this week.
By fruit snacks, he’s referring to the packaged packs of gummies often marketed to parents as children’s school snacks, positioned differently than gummy candies, manufactured by brands like Welch’s, Kellogg’s, and KIND.
But this category has come under scrutiny because of the products’ typically high sugar content. The use of gelatin, obtained from the rendering of carcasses, also means these products miss out on growing consumer groups like vegans and vegetarians, or families that follow Kosher or Halal diets.
“You’re finding bigger players like Welch’s came out with ‘Nothing but the Fruit’ brand. You’re finding the bigger companies are looking to make a better alternative to the high-sugar, gelatin products out there,” Luebbers said.
It’s a hint that more consumers have a taste for products that Taura has made for more than 30 years. This time, instead of eating it as part of a muffin or addition to cereal, it seems like consumers want to eat it straight.
“I love that because now our product is 90 to 100% of the finished product,” Luebbers said.
Entering the supplement space
The next step of Taura’s evolution is to manufacture supplement gummies. There’re aren’t a lot of manufacturers on the market that use 100% fruit puree without the addition of other gums or sugars.
Taura worked with its sister company Frutarom, both now part of IFF’s portfolio, to inject multivitamins and probiotics into its fruit pieces. They exhibited the results at SupplySide West, where it received enthusiasm from potential customers.
“But then we were getting asked, ‘could you add in our proprietary blend [of nutraceutical actives]?’” Luebbers said. “And a lot of people also said they wanted gummies in different shapes. The way we make our product off of a carpet is it comes in cubes and strips.”
Taura looked for a co-manufacturing partner that would be able to tailor its fruit purees into products that supplement formulators want.
“We got connected with these guys at Viva 5. They’re a nutritional supplement innovation warehouse, a think tank,” he said.
The two companies announced their joint venture at the SupplySide East show this week. In a press release, EVP of sales at Viva 5 Corporation Albert Dahbour said that the collaboration will be a “game changer for brands looking for a whole fruit based alternative in the popular and expanding VMHS gummy market.”
Luebbers said that the target customer for this product range from baby food manufacturers to pharmaceutical companies with supplement brands like Pfizer or Bayer. “We can serve a full spectrum,” he said.
Don’t fret about shelf-life
What makes these new gummies different from the other vegetarian gummies already on the market? According to Luebbers, it’s the use of 100% fruit puree.
“We’re real fruit, so it’s 100% real fruit. If you look at our ingredient statement, it’s just fruit puree, fruit juice, and pectin,” he said.
Because most of the moisture has been extracted, customers can create products with a shelf-life of up to two years. “We typically say 18-month shelf-life, but that’s purely based on discoloration,” he said. “In terms of taste and actives, it can go up to 24 months.”
Taura’s existing manufacturing facilities are in Belgium and New Zealand, but Luebbers said the company is pitching to its parent a plan for a facility in New Jersey. “We’re hoping to break ground in Q4,” he said.