Firmenich’s flavor of the year for 2023 is… dragon fruit: ‘Light, refreshing, sweet, and delicious…’

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

'Our consumer research shows that dragon fruit can sometimes surprise people by not having the strong flavor to match its visual appearance...' Image credit: Firmenich
'Our consumer research shows that dragon fruit can sometimes surprise people by not having the strong flavor to match its visual appearance...' Image credit: Firmenich

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Dragon fruit is making the shift from niche to mainstream, says flavors giant Firmenich, which has selected the fruit as its flavor of the year for 2023 after it exhibited “one of the fastest growth rates of any ingredient we’ve tracked in recent years.”

Native to Central America, dragon fruit (Pitahaya) has a delicate flavor ranging from milder melon and kiwi-like to slightly sweeter berry profiles with notes of beetroot, says Firmenich, which notes that its use in packaged foods is “growing more quickly in foods than beverages, where innovations typically appear first.”

“As much as dragon fruit is on fire in juice bars, markets, and street vendors around the world, the packaged food & beverage world was initially slow to innovate around this trend​,” adds Firmenich, which says dragon fruit is now appearing in everything from teas to cooked savory dishes.

However, this trend is changing, with product launches containing dragon fruit callouts now accelerating in all regions.”

Jeff Schmoyer, Firmenich Global Head of Human Insights, added: “It’s possible that the initial lag in new product innovation is in part related to the challenge of realizing the flavor of dragon fruit. Our consumer research shows that the fruit can sometimes surprise people by not having the strong flavor to match its visual appearance. Instead, the taste is light, refreshing, sweet, and delicious.”

Firmenich, which surveyed 18,670 consumers across eight countries, added that 88% of consumers have heard of dragon fruit, while 56% have tasted it, describing it with adjectives such as ‘bold,’ ‘exotic,’ ‘exciting,’ ‘impressive’ and ‘fun.’

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