Enjoying oranges, lemons and limes

by Allison Sebolt
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Orange juice, lemonade and limeade are traditional and familiar beverages for consumers, and such flavors are still driving the beverage market.

Citrus flavors represent more than 55% of the global beverage flavor market, said Vikrant Lal, beverage category manager for Symrise, Holzinden, Germany.

"Every component of a flavor we produce must be from the named fruit," Mr. Lal said. "So if, for example, a hurricane wipes out most of the grapefruit crop in Florida like in 2004-05, making natural grapefruit from the named fruit becomes very difficult since all the citrus processors around the world compete for the remaining supply. It requires our flavor chemists and analytical groups to come up with creative solutions to match our existing product offerings."

The market for citrus flavors has grown as consumers increasingly desire to live healthy without forgoing enjoyment as well as desire to return to simple things, including pure tastes and natural ingredients, Mr. Lal said.

Mr. Lal added that the future of citrus will be fueled by consumers’ continued desire to have fresh flavors that also provide a functional benefit. The challenges will be maintaining authentic taste and providing the right value for the money.

The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, offers Vault, a citrus-flavored beverage designed to provide refreshment and an energy boost. PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, N.Y., also offers a Diet Pepsi Lime flavor and the Sierra Mist lemon-lime carbonated beverage. Citrus is even making its way into waters with Pepsi offering Aquafina Sparkling in a Citrus Twist variety.

In addition to being popular in beverages, citrus flavors have expanded and increasingly are making their way onto the plate in combination with other foods.

Wixon, St. Francis, Wis., has identified macro flavor trends, including ethnic flavors and flavor fusion, and the company sees citrus flavors playing a role in each of the trends.

When it comes to ethnic flavors, Wixon said lemon is popular in many different cuisines around the world, and it is a top French, Greek and Italian flavor.

With flavor fusion, Wixon said many chefs are fusing different flavors to create new dishes, and this especially is seen with various ethnic cuisines. Mixing a citrus flavor along with another flavor in an ethnic dish is a way to expand flavor and menu options.

Flavor fusion also may be seen in applications such as marinades and sauces. According to the Global New Products Database from Mintel International, Chicago, there were various marinades launched in 2008 involving citrus flavors, including lemon and pepper; lemon; tequila and lime; tangerine and sesame; citrus and chipotle; and soy sauce, orange and onion.

For sauces, Wixon offers flavors such as chipotle citrus, lemon pepper, tomato and roasted garlic lemon, mandarin orange Chantilly, Peruvian sour orange, roasted chili lime, stir fry lemon, and Szechwan orange. For snacks, chili lime, chipotle lime, and salsa and lime are some of the flavors offered. For vegetable and salad dressings, Wixon offers an Oriental orange flavor.

To expand its citrus work Symrise opened the Symrise Citrus Showroom located at the company’s North American Flavor Headquarters in Teterboro, N.J. The company also has a Global Citrus Center in Sorocaba, Brazil. The Brazilian center is in the world’s prime citrus-growing region as 50% of the world orange and lemon crops are sourced from Brazil.

Andrew T. Blum, Symrise’s director for North American Citrus, said local and regional trends are considered when planning global citrus flavor strategies. Symrise said citrus flavors represent about 20% of the worldwide flavor business.

Symrise has a Naturally Citrus! application that allows for custom creation. It is application-driven and has the ability to replicate the freshness of citrus fruits. The application has three pillars with one being it is unique and makes distinctive flavor profiles. It also is fresh and processed and manufactured near the areas where the materials are naturally sourced, and is authentic with the company using encapsulation and multi-concentrated oils for support.

Mr. Lal said there is a growing trend of individualization in flavors with consumers having specific wants and needs within individual product segments. Overall, consumers want natural products with authentic fresh flavorings, he said.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, June 23, 2009, starting on Page 43. Click
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