February 20, 2013: You Say Pitaya, I Say…Mangosteen?

For the past decade it seems there’s been a constant discovery of new superfruits touted to cure all that ails us. We’ve all experienced the marketing of pomegranates, which is generally considered to be the first superfruit, and goji berries. These products matter to juice entrepreneurs (juice bars have become a very profitable industry), restaurant owners, and those who manufacture or sell beauty products.

An article last year in Bloomberg Businessweek highlighted several entrepreneurs who were counting on various fruits such as pitaya, which mainly “grow on cacti found on the side of an active volcano in southwest Nicarauga,” mangosteen from southeast Asia, and the Saskatoon berry. The pitaya was also featured more recently in Time when the magazine talked to the juice entrepreneur (the owner of New York City-based Juice Generation) who obtained exclusive American importing rights to the fruit.

Other highly touted superfruits include baobab (Africa), golden berry (South America), China’s monk fruit, lingonberry  (Scandinavia), and gac (Southeast Asia). All are high in vitamins and come with assorted health claims. But the word superfruit, says Bloomberg Businessweek, is more a marketing term than a scientific designation. The magazine quoted from Successful Superfruit Strategy, an industry primer: “Superfruits are the product of a strategy, not something you find growing on a tree.”

As entrepreneurs we’re no strangers to the fact that many businesses are more about the marketing than the products. That’s not to say there’s not money to be made from superfruits, but before you build a product line around a superfruit or start selling another company’s superfruit-based products, please be aware-and beware.