Natural and authentic taste solutions: (Part 1) Citrus flavors dominate beverage space


06 Nov 2017 --- Citrus is a perennial top flavor choice for beverages and offer a more diverse range of taste tones than almost any other fruit category. No other taste enjoys greater acceptance in the beverage industry and is consistently one of the most popular flavors for sweet food products. The citrus taste is a favorite in nearly all countries around the globe.

Similar to vanilla, citrus flavors are also very high in demand. Typically used in beverages, confectionary and desserts, citrus flavors are popular with both younger consumer group such as millennials and Gen Z, and older consumer groups with mature tastes. The most common citrus flavors are orange, lemon and lime. 

The popularity of citrus as one of the most preferred tastes for consumers is related to its delicate and balanced flavor profile, combining sweetness and acidity harmoniously and evoking emotions and feelings of refreshment, purity, indulgence and naturalness. It also conjures up many positive associations with nutrition, given its usually high levels of vitamin C and natural fiber content.

Citrus has been a popular taste for more than 5,000 years and dates back to its origin in Asia. Since then, citrus fruits have been available all around the world. Portuguese and Spanish colonizers brought them from China and India through Mediterranean countries like Italy and Spain to the Americas. 

Interestingly, yuzu has gained popularity in recent years, with the boom of interest in authentic Japanese flavors. Japanese fruit, yuzu, is becoming very prolific and has an unusual yet bold citrus profile and is very popular in beverages, confections and spices. Citrus is one of the most popular flavors worldwide, and yuzu has proven it has a place in the running where consumers want flavor profiles that play on favorites but with an exotic twist. Citrus notes combined with fragrant and a refreshing aroma is what makes yuzu so appealing. “These flavor trends are in-line with consumer demands with products that meet their demands for wellness and indulgence,” Mike Moses, marketing manager for Nagase, explains. “Other Japanese citrus fruits, such as persimmons, also appeal to consumers globally as well.” 

“This is a cross between a grapefruit and an orange and has a very interesting and edgy flavor, with a bold delivery. This is more appealing to younger generations, who are looking for something that goes beyond traditional orange, lemon or lime,” he says. 

FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with some leading flavor companies about the desire for citrus and how it fits within the realms of today’s ingredient trends. 

With the interest in carbonated and soft drinks at an industry high WILD Flavors & Specialty Ingredients (WFSI) is focused on incorporating regional preferences into products across the globe. Fruits such as citrus fruits or red fruits are combined with aromatic plants like mint or ginger. This gives rise to thirst quencher products that meet common expectations regarding fruity soft drinks, yet also exhibit surprising aromatic notes.

“When it comes to flavoring innovative products, the demand for citrus will continue to steer towards solutions that are as natural as possible, combined with authentic taste, Hélène Möller, Director Product Management Ingredients at WFSI, tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “Going into next year, combining refreshing flavors such as citrus and mint is expected to be popular.” 

“There is no way around citrus when it comes to offering a refreshing kind of fruitiness, especially in the beverage sector. But even classics have to change with the times and satisfy consumers demand for something novel.”

Natural flavor creations by WILD Flavors & Specialty Ingredients (WFSI) illustrate exactly how this can happen in a very interesting way. “The portfolio brightens up classic citrus with a touch of trend fruits, such as grapefruit with pomegranate. It also does the reverse, taking something like the exotic kaffir lime and blending it with domestic blackcurrants. In each case, WFSI’s citrus range creates fresh and fruity new sensations based on familiar flavors but with a full note of red fruits.” 

WFSI has just presented a new natural orange flavor range from different varieties and grown in different parts of the world. According to Möller, orange, lemon and lemon-lime are all time citrus favorites in the beverage world. But Pink Grapefruit certainly also plays a major role and this is continuing to grow.

“Citrus flavors remain among the top three flavors within non-alcoholic beverages, where they traditionally play a key role in segments such as Carbonates (cola, lemon-lime, orange), Juices & Nectars (mainly orange) and Flavored Waters (lemon, lime, grapefruit),” Erlon Pereira, Head of Business Unit Flavours at Doehler tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “We also see significant growth in alcoholic beverages as well, mainly in the lemon and orange segment. Within the food category, we see interesting developments in dairy products (lemon and orange) and sugar and gum confectionery.” 

Doehler supports its clients’ needs by covering these trends and bringing ideas various applications to life. “We showcase a broad range of solutions, from the finest top-notch natural flavors, natural extracts, essential oils, essences to citrus specialties,” Pereira notes. 

The next part of this report will be available later this week. 

By Elizabeth Green

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