Colorful, wholesome fruit is moving beyond its everyday snack and juice roles to inspire a host of new menu items and products that offer good health, flavor adventure or even an artisan experience. Fresh Takes on Fruit: Culinary Trend Mapping Report, a joint publication of the San Francisco-based strategic food and beverage agency CCD Innovation and market research publisher Packaged Facts, finds that fresh fruit has a welcome in every daypart, from breakfast to the late night snack. The variety of colors, flavors and textures make it versatile in the kitchen, useful in sauces, condiments, beverages, salads and all the way up to pastries. Fruit appeals to all ages and demographics, and some even trigger nostalgic memories from childhood.
Here are some of the trends outlined in the report:
Craft Cider: Move over small-scale, craft beer—artisan alcoholic cider is the next big brew. Beyond the pastoral feelings evoked by small-batch ciders, craft cider appeals to consumers who are increasingly health conscious about what they eat and imbibe.
Fruit + Botanical Beverages: The addition of botanical flavor notes to fruit-flavored beverages adds a fresh twist in this category, where a thirsty public is eager to experience more complex flavor combinations and enjoy alternatives to conventional sodas. Beyond taste, these additions add potential health benefits that appeal to consumers searching for elixirs in a bottle or tea bag.
Fruit Preserves 2.0: With attention being paid to pickling and preserving, a renewal of nostalgia-driven interest in old-time techniques is playing out among top chefs and hardcore DIY home cooks determined to jar everything edible for the pantry, whether preserved lemons, blackberry-thyme jam or pickled plums. But make no mistake, these are not your grandma's preserves or pickles.
Sugar from Fruit: Monk fruit and coconuts are now being transformed into attractive sweeteners with low calories, low glycemic index scores and impressive nutrient profiles. Both natural sweeteners have been getting attention from food industry media, bloggers and health-conscious consumers as they move into the marketplace.
New Varietals & Hybrids: Varietal fruits and novel hybrids are gaining in popularity as shoppers focus quality and variety. It's not enough now to sell consumers lemons, oranges or strawberries. Savvy eaters are focused on specific varieties -- whether Meyer lemons, Cara Cara oranges or Seascape strawberries -- and their distinct flavor profiles along with qualities such as ease of peeling, lack of seeds or textural advantages.
Super Tart Cherries: The expansion of tart, sour cherries into juices, snack bars and trail mix is just the beginning of where this nutrient powerhouse can go, with or without the health claims. Not only does this good-for-you-ingredient taste great, but tart cherries also add a premium feel to foods as well as a hint of nostalgia.
Mango Mania: Mango madness has firmly set in thanks to the juicy tropical's broad appeal to multicultural consumers, flavor lovers and health-seekers. Whether in savory or sweet applications, mango's versatility happily expands across foodservice menu categories.