April 17/Rockville, Md./Marketwired -- Beloved, wholesome fruit is moving beyond its everyday snack and juice roles to inspire a host of new products that offer good health, flavor adventure or even an artisan experience. However, beyond all the natural, nutritious and flavorful qualities of fruit, both its versatility and important cultural role make it a uniquely attractive vehicle for food and beverage advances on multiple fronts, according to "Fresh Takes on Fruit: Culinary Trend Mapping Report," a joint publication of the strategic food and beverage agency CCD Innovation and market research publisher Packaged Facts.

"Fruit is and will continue to be omnipresent. Fruit plays a role in every daypart from breakfast to late-night snacks. Fruits go from the produce aisles to the snack shelf and freezer case. It is transformed into beverages, condiments and baked goods of all kinds. They also appeal to all ages and demographics," says Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD Innovation.

"Fruit is part of everyone's story and is a key element to wholesome living," Egan notes. "Fruit connects us to nature and our own cultural background and identity. Who doesn't have nostalgic memories of favorite fruits and fruit-laden foods from childhood?"

"Fresh Takes on Fruit: Culinary Trend Mapping Report" features strategic insights to guide food industry players on tapping into trends to successfully innovate around fruit. For those taking an artisanal approach to fruit, such as preserves and natural beverages of all kinds, explore seasonal and regional fruit varieties. Those addressing Latino or Asian audiences should not only leverage tropical fruits, but also remember that today's flavor lovers and adventurous eaters are also seeking out new fruit experiences. Likewise, tropical takes on fruit-based American classics can capture the imagination of multicultural consumers. And, of course, outstanding nutritional profiles seal the deal for consumers of all ages.

The report breaks down fruit trends by tracking development across CCD Innovation's proprietary Trend Map, outlining key trends and what to expect from them in the future to support both innovative and traditional brands in foodservice and consumer packaged goods.
• Stage 1 - Craft Cider: Move over small-scale, craft beer -- artisan alcoholic cider is the next big brew. Beyond the pastoral feelings evoked by small-batch ciders, craft cider appeals to consumers who are increasingly health conscious about what they eat and imbibe.
• Stage 1 - Fruit Preserves 2.0: With attention being paid to pickling and preserving, a renewal of nostalgia-driven interest in old-time techniques is playing out among top chefs and hardcore DIY home cooks determined to jar everything edible for the pantry, whether preserved lemons, blackberry-thyme jam or pickled plums. But make no mistake, these are not your grandma's preserves or pickles.
• Stage 2 - Sugar from Fruit: Monk fruit and coconuts are now being transformed into attractive sweeteners with low calories, low glycemic index scores and impressive nutrient profiles. Both natural sweeteners have been getting attention from food industry media, bloggers and health-conscious consumers as they move into the marketplace.
• Stage 2 - New Varietals & Hybrids: Varietal fruits and novel hybrids are gaining in popularity as shoppers focus quality and variety. It's not enough now to sell consumers lemons, oranges or strawberries. Savvy eaters are focused on specific varieties -- whether Meyer lemons, Cara Cara oranges or Seascape strawberries -- and their distinct flavor profiles along with qualities such as ease of peeling, lack of seeds or textural advantages.
• Stage 3 - Fruit + Botanical Beverages: The addition of botanical flavor notes to fruit-flavored beverages adds a fresh twist in this category, where a thirsty public is eager to experience more complex flavor combinations and enjoy alternatives to conventional sodas. Beyond taste, these additions add potential health benefits that appeal to consumers searching for elixirs in a bottle or tea bag.
• Stage 4 - Super Tart Cherries: The expansion of tart, sour cherries into juices, snack bars and trail mix is just the beginning of where this nutrient powerhouse can go, with or without the health claims. Not only does this good-for-you-ingredient taste great, but tart cherries also add a premium feel to foods as well as a hint of nostalgia.
• Stage 5 - Mango Mania: Mango madness has firmly set in thanks to the juicy tropical's broad appeal to multicultural consumers, flavor lovers and health-seekers. Whether in savory or sweet applications, mango's versatility happily expands across CPG and foodservice menu categories.