Welch’s calls 2018 the “Year of the Grape,” in line with trend forecasts

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12 Feb 2018 --- Welch's Global Ingredients Group has welcomed the news that “mindful choices” is set to be 2018’s top food and beverage trend – and says it believes this could be the Year of the Concord Grape as a result of this forecast.

Innova Market Insights tipped “Mindful Choices” as its #1 trend for 2018, predicting that this year will see more consumers buying food and beverage products that address concerns relating to both body and mind. In this holistic approach to making purchase decisions, consumers are drawn to brands that are natural and healthy (body) and produced in ways that respect the world we live in (mind).

Explaining the trend, Innova Director of Innovation Lu Ann Williams said: “Consumers are more conscious than ever about making responsible food choices, and increasingly want to know what is in their food and how it is produced.”

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Kevin Kilcoyne, VP and General Manager,
Global Ingredients Group at Welch’s

Kevin Kilcoyne, VP and General Manager, Global Ingredients Group at Welch’s, said that in order to meet this trend manufacturers faced the challenge of sourcing raw materials that could satisfy those demands – and suggested that Welch’s Concord grape ingredients offer a solution. Suitable for use in beverages, smoothies, snacks, bakery products, confectionery, yogurts, ice cream and desserts, Welch’s Concord grape ingredients include 100 percent fruit juices and purées, as well as FruitWorx real fruit pieces and fruit juice powder.

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Kilcoyne explained that Concord grapes are the complete mindful superfruit, delivering health benefits for the body and peace of mind in terms of how they’re produced. “They were first cultivated in Concord, MA nearly 170 years ago and today continue to grow on family-farmer-owned vineyards in North America. Welch’s is a cooperative, and the profits generated by our ingredients division go back to our grower-owners. This model helps to ensure that our members’ businesses remain viable in the long term, which is positive for their families, their employees and the community in which they live and operate their businesses,” he notes.

He also noted: “The vineyards where our farmers grow Welch’s Concord grapes have been in their families for generations. They live on the land, which strengthens their connection with it and, in turn, heightens their respect for the environment.”

Kilcoyne also stated that as well as being a great fit for the “Mindful Choices” trend, Concord grape ingredients are linked to another key trend highlighted by Innova for 2018 – “Say it with Color”. “This trend signposts the emergence of a younger group of consumers – typically Millennials – who consider it important that a food or beverage will look good on social media,” he explains.

“In fact, the vibrant, bold purple color of Concord grape ingredients is a signature feature that makes them perfect for creating nutritious and beautiful food and beverage products that will resonate with today’s Instagram generation. For consumers who want their food and drink to look good in their feed, Concord grape ingredients are a real winner,” he notes.

Besides “Mindful Choices” and “Say it with Color”, Concord grape ingredients are a great fit for another key trend highlighted by Innova Market Insights, which is “Bountiful Choice”, according to Kilcoyne. “This forecasts that in 2018 consumers will be looking for new twists on their favorite foods. Concord grape juices and purees are perfect for use in both sweet and savory recipes, adding a delicious purple twist to dips, sauces, fillings and more. If you’re looking to add some excitement to popular recipes, Concord grape ingredients offer the chance to create something new and unique that stimulates adventurous consumers’ senses.”

“The Welch's ingredients business was established in 2014 to fulfill our mission to take the great taste and goodness of our Concord grapes and grape-based products to as many people and places as possible through new markets and new categories. “To achieve this we’ve developed a range of ingredient formats – juices, purees, pieces and powders – which enable their use in almost any product application. The opportunities are unlimited and include 100 percent juices and juice blends, bakery and snack products, confectionery, yogurts and ice creams, spreads, baby foods, wine and much more,” Kilcoyne reveals.

“We continue to widen the scope for how Concord grapes can be used in food and drink formulations,” he notes. “We recently partnered with a culinologist to develop recipe concepts that showcase the potential for using Concord grape ingredients in new ways. Recipes included pancakes with grape-based syrups, tangy-grape meatballs and a fruit bark dessert made with grape juice powder and fruit pieces. These were a huge hit with visitors to IFT17.”

“Not all functional ingredients taste that good, so we’ve also spent a lot of time blending them with Concord grape juice and puree to demonstrate how our ingredients are the perfect base for delicious healthy beverages. In addition, we are also witnessing growing interest in our Concord grape puree from the dairy sector. It’s perfect for creating delicious, frozen desserts, yogurts and smoothies that have the added benefit of looking fantastic,” he states.

“Taste, nutrition and value: this is the trifecta of benefits that make the Concord grape unique among superfruits,” Kilcoyne says. The Concord grape is a distinctive dark purple superfruit that’s delicious and naturally sweet. It is different from standard table grapes with its thick, vibrantly colored skin and crunchy seeds, which is where you’ll find the plant nutrients (polyphenols) behind this grape’s superfruit goodness. According to research, 100 percent grape juice helps support a healthy heart and may offer benefits for a healthy mind and more. “We are continuing to investigate the role of the Concord grape and its juice on health,” he adds.

Click to EnlargeThere is already a significant body of research demonstrating that Concord grape juice and its polyphenols benefit cardiovascular health. In addition, there is excitement around the emerging science suggesting a link between Concord grape juice and cognitive health. In a recent study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, 20 participants with a mean age of 21 were asked to drink 100 percent grape juice made with Concord grapes and a sugar-matched, low polyphenol control beverage. A small amount of flavored cordial was added to each beverage to mask the flavors. Twenty minutes after drinking their assigned beverages, these men and women participated in a series of tasks to examine memory, attention and mood. Researchers discovered those who consumed about 7 oz. of 100 percent grape juice felt calmer and experienced significant improvements in reaction time when participating in attention-based tasks, compared to those who received the control. While more research is needed, the results suggest that drinking 100 percent grape juice made with Concord grapes can have an immediate, positive impact on attention and mood in young adults.

“With our range of ingredients for the food and beverage sector, manufacturers can now harness the taste, nutrition and backstory of the Concord grape to create products that will strike a chord with mindful consumers, this is why in fact, with mindfulness named as Innova Market Insight’s top trend for 2018, we believe that this will be the Year of the Concord Grape,” Kilcoyne concludes.
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By Elizabeth Green

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