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Sharp, fresh and exciting: How citrus flavors can help you deliver what consumers want

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The welcome arrival of spring and approach of summer provide an almost annual ritual as consumer tastes change and move away from the rich, warmer profiles that dominate the seasonal produce of the winter months. As the weather becomes warmer and the days lengthen, fresher flavors become more desirable and citrus fruits, with their bright skins, refreshing taste and associations with warm, sunny climates, are a favorite in everything from sorbet to soft drinks and cocktails. The popularity of citrus flavors can also present a challenge for food and beverage producers – how do you offer consumers the familiar tastes they demand, while making sure your products stand out on the shelf? However, by understanding what consumers are looking for, producers can create products that will help keep buyers engaged, throughout the season. 

Bitter is better

As the shift away from added sugar continues, sour and bitter flavors are becoming ever more popular, allowing citrus notes to shine in a new way. Whereas previously many citrus flavored dessert or snack products would have featured high amounts of sugar or sweeteners, the change in consumer tastes over the past few years has allowed for new, more complex uses of citrus that stay closer to the taste of the raw fruit. Dairy is one such sector that has embraced this trend. The popularity of sharper flavors is as much about seeking new experiences as it is re-discovering classics, however – consumers are now not only looking for traditional lemon, orange and lime, but are seeking out more unusual and exotic sour flavors such as pink grapefruit, yuzu, mandarin, pomelo, kumquat and kaffir lime. To truly excite buyers this summer, producers need to offer authentic, true-to-life citrus flavors that provide a new experience while retaining the on-trend bitter profile.

Adventurous combinations

Linked to this desire for exotic and unusual tastes is the use of botanicals, flowers and spices, which are poised to become more mainstream as flavorings in the coming months. Although bold and exciting, many producers have found that these spicy or overly floral taste profiles can become overwhelming when used on their own. However, by combining them with citrus fruits, producers can offer a greater depth of flavor that isn’t too overpowering. For brands, and consumers, looking to take their first steps into experimenting with more unusual flavors then, citrus offers the best of both worlds – providing great back up without hogging the limelight.

Sophisticated soft drinks

Another way producers can help differentiate their citrus offering is by tapping into the low or no alcohol trend, which continues to grow as increasingly health conscious consumers seek out soft alternatives to traditional adult beverages. This year, buyers are moving away from the sweet, syrupy taste of sodas and looking instead for non-alcoholic drinks that emulate the dry flavor of some cocktails and spirits. Citrus flavors offer this complex, bitter taste profile, while still being refreshing, light and summery, making them the perfect option for developing new adult soft drinks. Fermented soft-drink brewers have already addressed this trend by adding lemon and grapefruit flavors to their typically dry kombucha beverages.

Supporting our customers


As one of the world’s largest citrus oil procurers and processors, ADM is uniquely positioned to support its customers. Our manufacturing capabilities, expansive footprint and highly traceable global supply chain allow us to add value at every stage, from raw materials to expertly crafted ingredients. Thanks to our decades of experience and sophisticated global infrastructure we can actively help our customers by offering security of supply, invaluable technical expertise, agility to assist with reformulation where needed and above all the highest quality ingredients to help your products shine. Visit​ or​ to learn more about our range of true-to-life citrus flavors or contact uryyb-ahgevgvba@nqz.pbz​.

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