Friday, 29 June 2012

Cherries more dynamic than blueberries and cranberries

Analyst Insight by Ewa Hudson, Head of Health and Wellness Research

Like a number of “superfruits”, cherries boast a formidable antioxidant content. However, it appears that they may have more specific health benefits to offer in a number of very promising growth areas, such as sports nutrition, pain management and combating sleeplessness.

Cherries are enjoying a surge in popularity. Euromonitor International's fresh food statistics show that global volume sales of fresh cherries rose by 17% over the 2006-2011 review period, outperforming other high-end fresh fruit “treats” like strawberries and grapes.   In 2011, cherries emerged as the second most dynamic fresh fruit category, achieving a 4% volume gain, ahead of cranberries/blueberries.

Global volume sales of cherries amounted to 1.3 million tonnes in 2011, which was only marginally below that of cranberries/blueberries and less than half of the volumes achieved by strawberries.  Although an ongoing hit with consumers, the market for fresh cherries remains constrained by both seasonality and a short shelf life. Unlike some types of berries, such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, which are also highly perishable but whose seasonality can be artificially prolonged, for example through the use of polytunnels, cherries only manage to make a comparatively short-lived annual appearance.

Luckily, in order to enjoy the taste and health benefits of cherries, consumers are not limited to eating them in their fresh state, but can resort to frozen, dried and powdered formats as well as drinking cherry juice. Needless to say, this inherent versatility is good news for a range of players engaged in the health and wellness industry.

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Red Recovery Routine

Sports dietitian Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D. LDN, CSSD created the Red Recovery Routine to help athletes manage and minimize their pain – no matter what your fitness level.


Leanne Shear, co-founder, Rogue Female Fitness, runner and blogger: “In addition to being a coach and trainer, I am a serious marathon runner – and I can’t live without cherries! I am addicted to the muscle recovery, as well as the healthy boost of delicious carbs they provide post-run. Now my clients love them too. It’s a win/win!”

Thomas Tan, Ph.D., runner and blogger: “As a scientist immersed in inflammation research, and a regular participant in ultramarathons, I can attest the Red Recovery Routine has had a major impact in my recovery and performance.”

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Cherry Juice Hard to find

Although a number of packaged food and beverage categories will be able to benefit from the rise of the cherry as a superfruit, it is the fruit/vegetable juice category which holds the most promise. Fruit juice is widely perceived as being almost as “natural” as the fresh fruit, while having the added advantage of year-round availability. The cherry juice category is only just emerging, with many gaps waiting to be filled.

For instance, it is currently a challenge to find 100% cherry juice on retailer shelves. Cherry juice products, even those consisting of 100% fruit juice, tend to be blended products, ie consisting of a mixture of fruit juices. Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc launched its new Ocean Spray Cherry range in February 2012, with the tagline “Real Cherries. Real Good”. The four new offerings are juice drinks, combining cherry juice with other juices, such as cranberry and orange.

UK-based Cherrygood Ltd, whose range of cherry juices is available from most of the country's major supermarkets, and which makes much of the health and wellness benefits of cherry juice in its marketing, launched Cherrygood Premium Cherry in January 2012. The product is promoted as possessing “a higher antioxidant content than any other leading chilled juice”, devoid of additives, preservatives, sugar and 100% natural. However, its cherry juice content is just 40%, with the rest consisting of apple juice.

Even Voelkel, a German beverage company specialising in high-quality natural and organic juices, only offers cherry juice as a combination product of apple and cherry juice.

The issue hinges on both taste and price. Pure 100% cherry juice has quite a strong taste, which is not unpleasant, but it may not be appreciated by all consumers. It is also expensive to produce. The 100% cranberry juice category remains a niche for those same reasons. Pure cranberry juice is mainly purchased on medicinal grounds by women suffering from recurring urinary tract infections.

However, 100% or near-100% cherry juice has much greater potential than the cranberry equivalent. Compared to cranberry juice, which centres its high antioxidant value on urinary tract health, cherry juice's health and wellness remit is far broader, encompassing more mainstream health concerns like insomnia and pain management.

In the past, when cherry juice was mainly purchased because of its flavour, a satisfactory flavour profile could be achieved with a fairly low proportion of cherry juice (or none at all!), and consumers had no or few qualms about this. Now, however, with cherry's unstoppable emergence as a superfruit sporting a number of specific health benefits, a growing number of consumers will start to seek out products with high cherry juice content, and will be happy to contend with the more robust flavour.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Cherries still missing from the sports nutrition market

On the sports nutrition front, cherries and cherry products may have an application in speeding up post-exercise recovery and improving performance. The American College of Sports Medicine published an article in August 2011 in its journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise which suggested that cherry juice was able to reduce muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise. The researchers stipulated that this effect was due to cherry juice's high antioxidant content attenuating the oxidative damage caused by this type of exercise.

At present, cherry ingredients are not commonly employed as functional ingredients by mainstream sports product manufacturers. For example, GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade branded sports drinks, despite offering cherry flavour varieties, makes nothing of cherries' potential in the realm of post-exercise muscle recovery. Lucozade Sport Lite Cherry, launched in the UK in August 2011, only contains cherry flavouring, as does Lucozade Body Fuel Drink Cherry.

Cherry juice positioned as a functional product is being left to specialist producers. UK-based CherryActive, founded in 2005, for instance, offers CherryActive Concentrate made from Montmorency cherry juice, available bottled or in pouches. The product is primarily positioned at the sports nutrition market, although the company makes reference to joint health, sleep and other antioxidant-related health benefits. In addition to juice, CherryActive also offers freeze-dried powdered cherries in capsules and dried Montmorency cherries for snacking.

In the future, we should start to see more mainstream products in the sports drinks arena, such as, for example, sports drinks employing a significant proportion of cherry juice in order to appeal to people seeking sports drinks with a more natural positioning. Protein shakes with added cherry powder (from freeze-dried cherries) and snack bars with dried cherries and/or cherry powder are also likely to appeal to consumers interested in sports nutrition products.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Relief for Painful Joints

Fresh cherries are a traditional remedy for alleviating the pain associated with gout and arthritis. Some research has shown that they help the body excrete excess uric acid, which causes gout, and also that certain phytochemicals present in cherries may combat the inflammation responsible for arthritic pain. 

Anti-inflammatory drugs currently constitute the mainstay medical treatment for arthritis management, and consumers are always looking for natural alternatives, enabling them to reduce the amount of medication they are taking, and cherry products may prove to be an ideal and highly palatable adjunct.

Driven by global population ageing, bone and joint health is destined to become an important positioning platform. For the 32 markets covered by Euromonitor International's in-depth health and wellness research, sales of foods and beverages with a prime positioning focus on bone and joint health amounted to US$13.8 billion in 2010.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Oregon Health & Science University presented today 30th MAY 2012 at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference (ACSM)

Tart Cherries May Help Millions Reduce Inflammation to Manage Pain, According to New Research

Tart cherries may help reduce chronic inflammation, especially for the millions of people suffering from debilitating joint pain and arthritis, according to new research from) in San Francisco, California.1 In fact, the researchers suggest tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food” and can help people with osteoarthritis manage their disease.

In a study of twenty women ages 40 to 70 with inflammatory osteoarthritis, the researchers found that drinking tart cherry juice twice daily for three weeks led to significant reductions in important inflammation markers – especially for women who had the highest inflammation levels at the start of the study.

“With millions of Americans looking for ways to naturally manage pain, it’s promising that tart cherries can help, without the possible side effects often associated with arthritis medications,” said Kerry Kuehl, M.D, Dr.PH., M.S., Oregon Health & Science University, principal study investigator. “I’m intrigued by the potential for a real food to offer such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit – especially for active adults.”

Often characterised as “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Athletes are often at a greater risk for developing the condition, given their excessive joint use that can cause a breakdown in cartilage and lead to pain and injury, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The inflammation benefits could be particularly important for athletes, according to Kuehl’s previous research. In a past study he found that people who drank tart cherry juice while training for a long distance run reported significantly less pain after exercise than those who didn’t.2

Along with providing the fruit’s bright red colour, the antioxidant compounds in tart cherries – called anthocyanins – have been specifically linked to high antioxidant capacity and reduced inflammation, at levels comparable to some well-known pain medications.3

Sleigh, AE, Kuehl KS, Elliot DL . Efficacy of tart cherry juice to reduce inflammation among patients with osteoarthritis. American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. May 30, 2012.
2. Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chestnutt J. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2010;7:17-22. Phytomedicine 2001;8:362-369.
3. Seeram NP, Momin RA, Nair MG, Bourquin LD. Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyanidin glycosides in cherries and berries.