Flavours innovator offers fruity beer alternative

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Beer, Fruit, Brewers

Herb and fruit infused beers are set to become a major growth
category for brewers facing dwindling sales of ale, according to
the manufacturer of a new range of natural flavours.

Wild claims it has developed a line of flavourings derived from exotic fruits and domestic herbs that can be used by brewers to create innovative new beer mixes to win back a declining market share in the alcoholic beverage market. According to the company, beer drinkers are moving away from the more traditional, bitter taste of beer, pushing brewers to look for intense fruit flavours that can be married with the existing malt or hop qualities of ales and lagers. Germany-based Wild began manufacturing fruit flavours for beer last year, and now hopes to expand its presence in the market through the availability of new products to better tap the segment's potential. With the mixture of citrus flavours with traditional beer already proving popular on the market, an example given by the company of further innovation was mixing a white beer with a grapefruit flavour, which it claims is already becoming popular in bars. Beyond conventional fruit ingredients, Wild said newer taste profiles such as pomegranate and lulo - a light-green fleshy fruit sourced from South America - offered an exciting and healthy alternative to more traditional flavours. The group claim that the inclusion of lulo also offers some nutrition benefits due to its high calcium, phosphorus and Iron content in addition to vitamins B, C and provitamin A. While domestically sourced herbs may not have the same allure, Wild added that their use in beer is another major innovation for processors. Additionally, the inclusion of ingredients long used in formulating energy drinks such as guarana, are also becoming increasingly popular in the manufacture of beers, which can claim to offer added benefits such as caffeine, the company said. The ingredients manufacturer is not alone in moving to tap the growing market for fruit beers as stagnant beer markets across much of Western Europe forces many international brewers to re-think their strategies in the region. France-based Aromatech last month launched its BeMix flavours in move to help brewers achieve a mix of tastes - from coconut to raspberry - in response to declining traditional beer sales. The developments come as beer makers are facing increasing difficulties in their core markets, due to declining sales of the tipple. Major companies have all reported losses. Carlsberg, for example, made a net loss of €24m in the first quarter of 2006, an improvement on a loss of about €40m in the same period in 2005. Analysts at Mintel predict UK consumers will drink on average 11 litres or 19 pints less of the product by 2012. Lager volume sales have declined five per cent since 2005. Volume sales are forecast to fall by a further eight per cent by 2012 to 3.65bn litres, Mintel said. As a result, the value of the market this year is expected to decline by four per cent to £10.9bn (€16m) from the levels recorded in 2005.

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