It may not be a household name yet, but baobab, an African fruit that's being heavily marketed as the next big superfood for its powerful antioxidant properties, could be coming to a cereal aisle near you.
Though he stopped short of naming the big-name brands, Stephan Broburg, vice-president of Baobab Foods based in Washington State, said that the company is in discussions with a "number of leading food manufacturers" and expects to see some of their products in trail mixes, cereals, granola bars, and chocolate-covered fruit snacks by the end of the year.
With an exotic, tangy flavor described as a cross between grapefruit, pear and vanilla, the baobab fruit has been used for years in Africa. Inside the coconut-sized shell, the fruit powder dehydrates naturally without the need for processing like heat extraction or freeze drying.
According to National Geographic, the "Vitamin Tree" fruit contains six times as much vitamin C as oranges and twice as much calcium as milk and is a good source of iron, potassium and magnesium.
It also has a low glycemic index with more fiber than apples, peaches, apricots and bananas. Baobab Foods' new Baobest Fruit Cubes, which are being showcased at the Natural Products Expo East show this week, also claim to contain up to four times more antioxidants than dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries.
The chewable candies come in four flavors - mango, raspberry, strawberry and mixed berry - and are a blend of citrus pectin, baobab powder and 100 percent fruit purees with no added sugar.
The fruit cubes also claim to be 45 percent lower in sugar than dried tart cherries and 60 percent lower than dried cranberries. It comes in a fruit powder which the company says has an antioxidant level that's six times higher than cranberries and blueberries and double the amount in goji berries, which for years have been enjoying the health food spotlight.
Baobab Fruit also distributes products in the UK. PhytoTrade Africa, which works to establish trade of natural African products, was a key player in bringing the baobab fruit to the UK.
The Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore wraps up September 24.