Sales of foods and beverages with citrus flavors boomed over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers gravitate to products and ingredients that promote wellness and health. Demand for citrusy products has increased in part due to consumers’ awareness that oranges, limes, and other citrus fruits help support the immune system and contain antioxidants. Experts say the trend will accelerate in 2022 as the virus continues to spread and house-bound consumers look for exotic flavor profiles from far-away places.
Releases of food and beverage products that include both a citrus flavor and an immune health claim increased by 21% between 2018 and 2021, a recent trends report by flavor, fragrance, and ingredient solutions supplier Flavourchem notes, referencing data from Mintel. Launches of products that featured an immunity claim jumped by 18% during the first year of the pandemic compared to the previous 12-month period, according to Innova data cited in a forecast published this month by flavors manufacturer FONA International.
“There’s been a 50% year-over-year growth for new products with Clementine flavors. They are a vitamin C powerhouse, which is directly associated with antioxidant and immunity-boosting properties, making it a very attractive flavor when looking for healthier ingredient options,” says Megan Gibson, marketing manager for Beck Flavors, in the firm’s 2022 “Flavors of the Year” report.
Flavourchem predicts consumers will seek out citrus-flavored foods and beverages with “more unique and exotic flavor profiles” in 2022, like yuzu, kumquat, blood orange, tangerine and Calamansi lime.
“Given the current state of the pandemic, Americans who are still reluctant to travel in 2022 will look for new ways to transport their taste buds,” writes the International Food Information Council (IFIC) in a recent trends report. “Expect them to satisfy their gastronomical wanderlust with exotic foods and flavors like hibiscus, yuzu, turmeric, kelp, gochujang and ube.”
Yuzu, a citrus fruit hailing from East Asia, appears in Whole Foods Markets’ annual top 10 food trends list for 2022.
“Tart and sour, this tangerine-sized fruit is popping up in vinaigrettes, hard seltzers, mayos and more. In the restaurant scene, chefs are using its lime-lemon-grapefruit flavor to accent their soups, veggies, noodles, and fish,” the retailer explains. “Get ready to see this fruit shine in 2022 – both on and off the grocery aisles.”
Flavors maker NovoTaste suggests that food and beverage manufacturers should look at mashups of traditional comfort foods with exotic flavors to meet consumers demand for new experiences and products that protect or improve their health.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, there will be bursts of exuberance and an interest in making up for lost time and lost eating experiences,” the manufacturer says in a recent trends forecast. “However, health and wellness will never be far from our minds.”