Our beverage experts formulate dozens of new and innovative drinks for clients every day, making them a valuable resource for the latest flavor trends. In December, our team got together to predict the trends we expect to take over the beverage industry in 2020. Our forecast features citrus and exotics as one of the top flavor categories set up for success in a year favoring the fresh and functional.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the world’s attraction to citrus and exotics as drink flavors and ingredients, and the ways they are being used in beverage application. Let get started!

Citrus & Exotics as an Ingredient

A category that includes the likes of grapefruit, meyer lemon, blood orange, and yuzu, citrus and exotics are proving to be much more than just the makes of a fancy fruit salad. As demand continues to increase for natural, functional beverages, citrus and exotics are becoming prevalent as flavorful additions to drinks of all types.

As a class of ingredients, citrus in particular provides immunity boosting nutrients that are coveted by consumers, now more than ever. In fact, amid the global coronavirus pandemic, there has been a significant uptick in the purchase of citrus that is sure to carry over into the functional beverage space.

Citrus fruits like orange, tangerine, lemon, and grapefruit specifically offer an elevated vitamin C content that is catching the eye of health-conscious consumers worldwide. And although no correlation has yet been found for vitamin C’s effectiveness in preventing or combatting the symptoms of coronavirus, there is evidence that high doses of vitamin C can decrease the length of some illnesses, like the common cold. Naturally, consumers have readily applied this benefit to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, contributing to a rise in citrus-related sales.

Similarly, exotic ingredients like coconut, prickly pear, and dragon fruit not only pair well with citrus flavors, but they also provide a variety of their own health properties. In addition to being highly nutritious and full of antioxidants, these exotic ingredients are immunity boosters in their own right. They also support weight loss and gut health, and prevent against many different types of diseases.

Of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands more ingredients that fall under the umbrella of citrus and exotics. Each offer their own natural, unique health properties that are best enjoyed in the form of a delicious drink. It follows then that consumers also tend to associate these kinds of drinks with wellness, and as a consequence, see beverages with aligned flavors as “better-for-you,” clean label products. This has helped fuel the popularity of these ingredients in drinks of all kinds.

Citrus & Exotics as a Drink Flavor

The diversity of functional benefits offered by citrus and exotics is only rivaled by its assortment of delicious flavors. Thanks to the sheer variety of this category of ingredients, the flavor possibilities and beverage pairings are truly limitless. When paired together, the familiar flavors of citrus combine perfectly with the not-so familiar taste of exotics to create adventurous combinations that consumers crave. This also reflects what we’re seeing come out of the Flavorman lab, where our beverage architects make a variety of infused and flavored drinks — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – based on our clients’ specifications.

There’s no doubt that the bright, fresh flavors offered by lemon and lime will continue to be a staple in the beverage world; however, consumers are becoming more experimental. New citrus profiles and exotic flavors offer intrigue as well as the perception of sweetness without the added sugar, syrups, or artificial sweeteners.

Exotic flavors like dragon fruit, coconut, and prickly pear in particular are now more commonplace. Like watermelon, these flavors introduce a fresh, delicate sweetness to the palate. Meanwhile, citrus flavors like grapefruit, tangerine, blood orange, meyer lemon, and yuzu offer a subtle sweetness fronted by their more interesting sour, bitter profiles. The result is a sophisticated and refreshing next generation of drink flavors.

It’s no surprise that the beverage industry has begun to embrace this trend, incorporating a variety of citrus and exotic pairings into their products in ways that are not only health-beneficial, but tasty.

How Citrus & Exotics Continue to Change What the World is Drinking

As consumers become more health-conscious, trends reflect a market shift towards beverages that maximize on quality and functionality, all while packing a flavor punch. Citrus and exotics, as drink ingredients and flavors, have the advantage of delivering on both.

The majority of this interest in citrus and exotic flavors has been attributed to changing consumer tastes and demand for increased benefits, transparency, and authenticity from beverages. Because citrus and exotics are so closely aligned with wellness and functionality, these types of ingredients have applications for drinks across categories.

Following these trends and what we’ve seen coming through our lab at Flavorman, our beverage experts predict that citrus and exotics will likely be used in 2020 to create fresh, interesting flavor combinations. These types of flavors dazzle the taste buds and are specifically complementary to the refreshing mouthfeel of seltzer and sparkling water (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). And as summer begins to get further underway, we’re sure to see these flavors pop up in teas, kombucha, and juices, as well as feature in the next generation of tasty spirits and RTD beverages, especially in the low to no ABV space.

From a functional ingredient to a refreshing beverage flavor, citrus and exotics have continued to change what the world is drinking. There’s sure to be more innovation to come, and who knows? Maybe your drink idea will be next.

To learn more about how the beverage development experts at Flavorman can help you bring your drink idea to life,  fill out this web form or give us a call at (502) 273-5214 to get started.


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Written on April 29, 2020.