To pinpoint consumer-preferred flavour nuances within the citrus space, ADM recently conducted an in-depth survey studying regional preferences and perceptions of citrus. "The Unfolding Citrus" study uncovers specific citrus flavour narratives across North America, EMEA and APAC regions, specifically drilling into which beverage categories are most promising.
Refreshing, juicy, sweet, tangy and tart, citrus can encompass a wealth of taste experiences in one bite or sip. This range has made citrus flavours popular with consumers, especially in the beverage aisle. New varietals coming to the forefront present great growth opportunities for citrus, especially when coupled with consumers' shift toward food and beverage exploration. In fact, recent market research predicts that the North America citrus flavours segment will have a CAGR of 3.84% during 2022-2027.
"We launched this study to investigate consumers' awareness and interest in different citrus varietals, as well as what motivates them to purchase citrus-flavored products," said Jennifer Zhou, Product Marketing at ADM. "What we discovered showcases the true versatility possible within citrus profiles and how consumer preferences can vary between region and beverage category, demonstrating the significant development potential for beverages that spotlight citrus."
In North America, consumers are ready for intense citrus profiles, with 100% of US consumers surveyed stating that they are looking for bold and/or vibrant citrus flavor experiences. Many North American survey respondents also note that while they find citrus-flavored beverages sensorially exciting, there is still room to move beyond the ordinary.
"Unsurprisingly, orange, lemon and lime are still the most recognisable citrus options to consumers, with mandarin, key lime, pink and ruby red grapefruit, blood orange and clementine coming on the heels of those classic flavors," said Zhou. "We're most excited by the increasing consumer curiosity around trying new flavors, pushing forward emerging possibilities like Valencia orange, Meyer and Sicilian lemon, finger lime, yuzu, calamansi and more."
The next frontier of citrus flavor is bright, and we're committed to supporting brands
- Jennifer Zhou, Product Marketing at ADM
Energy drinks, hard seltzers and ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails are focal points for US consumers seeking vivacious citrus-forward beverages. For energy drinks – which 39% of survey respondents frequently consume – aromatic, juicy and acidic characteristics of vibrant citrus are most likely to capture attention, as these notes align with the uplifting, invigorating feelings consumers associate with energy drinks. Notably, there is a unique opportunity here for emergent varietals like tangelo and bitter orange, as consumers who gravitate towards these flavors are also significantly more likely to consume energy drinks.
The survey also showed that 51% of US consumers drink at least one alcoholic beverage (spirit, hard seltzer, RTD cocktail) on a weekly basis. These consumers are intrigued by the seemingly limitless complexity of flavors in the alcohol space, leading to an interest in classic citrus notes and others that encapsulate floral, green, earthy, woody and spicy taste profiles. This sets the stage for imaginative flavor twists and bold new citrus opportunities, from pungent notes of pomelo and Tahitian lime.
"Unlocking the dynamic nuances from these different citrus varietals is no small feat," said Zhou. "Backed by the knowledge of what's pulling beverage consumers to citrus, our expert flavourists and product development team have developed a new technology to achieve just that."
The ADM team has recently launched new citrus technology called Corefold, which is exclusive to ADM through novel and proprietary separation technologies and concentration methods. It focuses on the core part of citrus oil to emphasise the molecules responsible for impact and mouthfeel while capturing top notes for freshness and aroma.
"The next frontier of citrus flavor is bright, and we're committed to supporting brands in stimulating the senses with the fragrant and distinctive boldness and vibrancy US beverage consumers crave," said Zhou.