Citrus is one of the most prevalent flavours in the world and arguably the king of the refreshing beverage category, according to Zona Negri, Director of Product Marketing, Flavors, APAC at ADM.
Lemon, orange and lime are among the world’s most recognisable flavours and are usually the first fruits that come to mind when thinking of citrus flavours. Modern consumers are now a lot more open to flavour exploration and are seeking new citrus varietals such as Tahitian lime, yuzu, calamansi and kumquat. This presents opportunities for brands to push the limits of product innovation.
AFBR has the opportunity to interview Ms Negri to gain deeper insights into the applications of citrus fruits into food and beverage products. The following are the findings from the interview:
What are the unique differences for Asian consumers/customers in terms of citrus flavor preferences as compared to their western counterparts?
Profile preferences vary between country when it comes to different Asian citrus fruits. ADM’s proprietary research found that Malaysian consumers, as an example, have relatively high interest in pink grapefruit, ruby red grapefruit, and yuzu.
Compared to western counterparts like the US, one-third (33%) of consumers who are not enthusiastic about citrus rank citrus fruits like lemon and ruby red grapefruit on the lower scale while varietals like Tahitian lime, Meyer lemon, and bitter orange are ranked higher.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution and while there are differences across the 2 regions, we can also see some similarities in terms of varietal appeal. Varietal citrus flavours, for their novel and unique flavors, can help satisfy consumers seeking ways to travel through their taste buds.
2. Citrus flavors/ingredients are often used in what type of food and beverage products in Asia?
In Asia, we are seeing greater interest for mandarin, lime and ‘red’ citrus fruits. Specifically, interest for lime varietals such as Tahitian lime, key lime and finger lime is growing and has sparked strong curiosity among Asian consumers. This includes the growing interest in Asian citrus varietals such as yuzu, calamansi and even kumquat.
Citrus is the biggest flavour category in beverages and can be found in a wide range of alcoholic beverages including beer, cocktails, spirits and hard seltzers like Chu-Hi (a popular Japanese alcoholic beverage). Citrus is also the ideal flavour to create refreshing and sophisticated tastes for the fast-growing non-alcoholic beverage category, including carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, ready-to-drink (RTD) teas, flavoured and functional waters.
When it comes to food, citrus is an equally beloved flavour profile used in a variety of applications including confectionery such as jelly gums, gummies and candies; baked goods like cakes, cupcakes and cookies; ice cream treats such as sorbets, popsicles and coatings and culinary products like sauces, dressings and stocks.
3. What can ADM offer to its customers in terms of its range of citrus flavors/ingredients available which made it unique from other suppliers?
Clean and clear label trends are making their way into food and beverage products, and we increasingly see consumers turning to simple, recognisable ingredients to influence their purchasing decisions . Citrus can elevate the naturalness perception of food and beverage products, and through our authentic citrus profiles, we cue tastes that are closer-to-nature.
To achieve real citrus flavour that satisfies these consumer label demands, our team at ADM sources citrus oils and juices from around the globe. As one of the largest procurers of citrus, we provide access to proprietary citrus ingredients through our cutting-edge extraction and distillation techniques. We have a gentle cold extraction process for whole fruit extracts, selective concentration for all folding levels, plus comprehensive separation and fractionation technologies. This enables us to deliver authentic, whole-fruit citrus taste experiences, as well as bright and bold citrus flavour profiles and tonalities that are highly sought after by consumers.
4. Modern consumers are not only looking for tasty/refreshing flavors but also ingredients that provide nutritional/health benefits. Does your portfolio offer a combination of both?
Consumers are increasingly shifting towards healthier lifestyles with more intention and mindfulness, so citrus flavours can provide a ‘health halo’ to foods and beverages. Citrus fruits themselves, despite being flavorful, may also be rich in desired nutrients including Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant nutrient that consumers associate with support for immune function. As a result, food and beverages containing citrus flavours may be perceived by some consumers as a healthier option.
Citrus flavours may play a key role in creating an emotional connection with consumers through specific taste experiences. For example, ADM’s Outside VoiceSM “Unfolding Citrus” study found that consumers across APAC recognise the benefits of citrus flavoured beverages to include simplicity, optimism (being fun and bright), followed by affability (easy to share with others) and safe (familiarity).
Recognising that citrus flavours evoke a very positive sentiment with consumers and are often viewed as ‘better-for-you’ because of their perceived associations with positive nutrition and health, we take a forward-looking view of emerging flavour trends to support our customers with the next wave of citrus taste experiences.
5. Has ADM done in-depth research to understand consumer preferences over citrus flavors ?
We recognise that each consumer demographic is unique, and we have conducted in-depth research through our ADM Outside VoiceSM ‘Unfolding Citrus’ study. This study provides insights from over 7,400 citrus beverage consumers around the globe to better understand
citrus motivations which can guide flavour and product development to better cater to modern consumers.
Modern consumers are seeking bold, bright and vibrant flavours to create joy, sensory engagement and memorable experiences, and citrus fits the bill perfectly. In the case of yuzu – which grows wild in central China and Tibet region – its exoticness can be used as a citrus profile to elevate the drinking experience via craftsmanship and sophistication in alcoholic beverages such as beer, cocktails, spirits and hard seltzers.
6. What is the market size for citrus flavors/extracts ?
The global citrus extracts market size was estimated at US$7.28 billion in 2021 and is expected to witness a CAGR of 4.1% from 2022 to 2030. Accounting for nearly 30% of new product launches globally, citrus flavours will continue to dominate across F&B categories.
In our culturally diverse region, there is a strong curiosity among different consumer segments with regards to different Asian citrus fruits. To meet the on-trend citrus tastes of tomorrow, we are bursting with excitement about our new Asian Citrus Signatures Flavour Collection launching soon in Asia-Pacific.
7. In your concluding words, what will be your piece of advise for companies in this region that are looking into NPDs for food or beverages with citrus flavors ?
In new product development, brands are always looking out for what’s next for their brand and target consumers. As consumer palates evolve, they are curious about new tastes, so it is important for brands to look into the versatility of citrus flavours as it enables tastes to be re-imagined using familiar flavours. Using citrus icons like lemon, lime and orange, we add a twist by meeting their pursuit of novelty but still grounded in familiarity. For example, calamansi is emerging across APAC as the ‘next gen’ lime while flavour combinations and blood orange could be viewed as a safe ‘evolution’ of orange. When you add a twist of smoke and woody character, you create a taste experience to savour such as charred orange or even charred lime.
At the core, authenticity remains key to any flavour creation. Our flavourists understand the sensory nuances of citrus flavours and leverage our proprietary citrus technology CorefoldTM to empower authentic, bold and vibrant citrus tonalities so beverage manufacturers can deliver true-to-fruit flavour profiles.
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Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)