Firmenich, a privately-owned fragrance and taste company, announced its 2023 Flavor of the Year, dragon fruit, celebrating consumers' desire for exciting new ingredients and bold, adventurous flavor creation.
This is the second consecutive year of a sensory partnership between Firmenich and Pantone®. The global color authority has just launched its 2023 Color of the Year, PANTONE® 18-1750 Viva Magenta™, which it describes as a "brave and fearless, a pulsating color whose exuberance promotes optimism and joy."
Native to Central America, where it is known as Pitahaya, and thriving in tropical and subtropical climates across the world, dragon fruit's flesh is rich in antioxidants and high in calcium. Dragon Fruit grows from a climbing cactus, making it a drought-resistant and naturally low water-use crop, requiring only a quarter of the water to grow compared to that of an avocado.
Much like the mystical creature that inspired its name, dragon fruit is fierce in appearance, with a scale-like skin in bold hues ranging from fiery yellow to bold magenta. However, its delicate flavor belies its imposing armor. With several different types varying in both color and taste, dragon fruit ranges in flavor from milder melon and kiwi-like to slightly sweeter berry profiles with notes of beetroot.
Part of its industry-leading Human Insights capability, Firmenich's Trenz™ forecasting team spotted a post-Covid rise in dragon fruit across almost every major city in the world. While always popular within niche segments, the exotic fruit began showing up more universally across diverse markets and food service venues, as well as product applications, from the more intuitive juices and smoothies to less traditional formats like tea and cooked savory dishes.
Firmenich's renowned Emotions360 consumer research offered a second clue. This proprietary in-depth study of natural ingredients identified that people are very excited about dragon fruit. In fact, Emotions360's latest wave, which surveyed 18,670 consumers across eight countries around the world, indicated that 88% of consumers have heard of dragon fruit, and 56% have tasted it. In terms of consumer perceptions, dragon fruit triggers associations with adjectives like bold, exotic, exciting, impressive and fun. Given this positive association, it's not surprising that the same consumers ranked dragon fruit in the 90% percentile among all ingredients with a high likelihood to rise in popularity in the future.