Today’s food landscape is defined by a growing commitment to health and wellness, along with a desire for comfort through food.  Consumers also increasingly care about the environmental impact of their purchases and want to support local agriculture.

U.S. grown Montmorency tart cherries are benefiting from this convergence of consumer values, and are now widely available in a range of new food and beverage innovations.

Mintel’s Global New Products Database reveals that product innovations featuring tart cherries are up 113% in the last five years. Montmorency tart cherries are appearing everywhere from snacks and baked goods to functional beverages.

Consumers are looking for more ways to enjoy tart cherries and they’ll even pay extra if they saw tart cherries on the label, according to consumer research conducted by Datassential.  With the trend of “permissible indulgence” growing, tart cherries can help strike the ideal balance of health and comfort.  Nearly 70% of consumers would feel better about purchasing an indulgent food containing tart cherries.

With their distinctive sweet-tart flavor profile, science-supported benefits, premium appeal, and grown in America status, Montmorency tart cherries have become a popular ingredient in diverse applications.

“Consumers’ taste preferences are shifting from sweet to sour, so tart cherries can add just the right multi-faceted sour flavor profile to products,” said Emily Cruz, director of innovation at CuliNex, who helped the tart cherry industry develop product concepts featuring the homegrown superfruit.  “As the food premiumization trend continues, tart cherries are in demand due to the high-quality elegance of this ruby red stone fruit.”


Five Reasons Why Tart Cherries Can Help Hit the Innovation Sweet Spot

Flavor versatility: Tart cherries contain less natural sugar compared to many other fruits, and consumers are seeking flavors that actually are more sour and less sweet.  The acidic notes of tart cherries can brighten up both sweet and savory foods and beverages.

Functional attributes: Scientific research studies have explored the impact of tart cherries on exercise recovery and sleep. Tart cherries are actually one of the few food sources of melatonin and emerging research has explored duration and quality of sleep, insomnia and sleep efficiency.

Premium appeal: The addition of tart cherries helps elevate the eating occasion -- offering a more premium quality to products. Consumers have been seeking premium foods for at-home meals to replace the restaurant experience and the premiumization trend is predicted to continue – especially for health and wellness products.

Pop of color: The ruby red color of tart cherries is due to the concentration of anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol in the flavonoids family.  Bright colors are associated with high nutritional content and add Instagram-worthy visual interest.

U.S. grown: Montmorency tart cherries are grown in America, which is a meaningful attribute for consumers who increasingly care about food origins and want to support local agriculture. Datassential reveals that 85% of consumers would prefer to buy U.S. grown tart cherries vs. imported tart cherries.