Speaking at the Research Chefs Association conference in San Antonio, Texas last week, Sloan presented Technomic data, suggesting that “fruity” became US consumers’ second-favorite flavor profile last year, up from seventh place in 2009. But while fruity flavors have become more popular, consumers have been less adventurous in their tastes.
“Superfruits are not doing too well,” she said. “The beverage market has always been the barometer…For the last two years, superfruit flavors have fallen. It’s going back to more traditional fruit-like flavors.”
In particular, she said that aҫai has gone from being in the top five most-used flavors in new beverage products in 2009, to 19th position in 2011. Pomegranate took the number one spot in 2008-2009, but had slipped to 18th last year.
Meanwhile, mango and coconut have been the fastest movers up the list, while the top three flavors in 2011 were apple, berry and orange.
Speculating on the reasons for the demise of superfruit flavors, Sloan said: “The people who were buying them were very trendy. It’s a very specific consumer group.”
She added: “People who were buying superfruit drinks weren’t buying them because of the taste.”
In terms of their antioxidant content, consumers are also looking to other ingredients, including herbs and spices, which may have much higher antioxidant values than superfruits or other foods considered to be antioxidant-rich. One teaspoon of cloves has around the same level of antioxidants as half a cup of blueberries, Sloan said, while one teaspoon of oregano could be equivalent in antioxidants to a bar of dark chocolate.