As today’s food and beverage trends evolve, U.S.-grown tart cherries are cropping up in more innovations. Consumers increasingly value the unique, sweet-tart flavor and nutrition benefits of this superfruit.

In fact, new tart cherry product introductions are up 94% the last six years (Mintel Global New Products Database), and consumers are looking for even more ways to enjoy this superfruit. Seven out of 10 consumers surveyed agree tart cherries can be used in a variety of food and beverage items (Datassential).

This is spurring product development teams to innovate with the ruby-red stone fruit and launch a myriad of snacks and beverages for health-conscious consumers. From energy bites to meat snacks to drinking vinegars, tart cherries pair well with both sweet and savory ingredients. They easily enable product development teams to strike the right balance in a variety of flavor profiles.

While tart cherries are increasingly featured in functional beverages and health-positioned products, they’re still a favorite ingredient in confectionary products and baked goods. With the trend of “permissible indulgence” growing, tart cherries can help product developers achieve a health halo to these sweets while increasing purchase intent. An analysis by Datassential found that nearly 65% of consumers would feel better about purchasing an indulgent food containing tart cherries.

5 Reasons Tart Cherries Hit the Sweet Spot for New Innovations

Flavor versatility: With consumers increasingly seeking sour, less sweet flavors, tart cherries provide the ideal sour-sweet flavor profile for both savory and sweet product applications.  Because tart cherries contain less natural sugar compared to many other fruits, they’ve become a favorite ingredient for keto desserts and snacks. Even desserts are moving to a savory side, and tart cherries can help strike the right complexity and balance.

Superfruit benefits: Tart cherries, which contain natural melatonin, have been the focus of multiple sleep studies exploring the quality and duration of sleep, insomnia and sleep efficiency. Other studies have explored tart cherry consumption on exercise recovery, gout attacks, arthritis symptoms, heart health, blood pressure and gut health.

Leverage today’s trends: Sour or tart cherries allow product developers to tap into today’s food and beverage trends that most appeal to consumers. From clean ingredient labels to plant-forward products to those looking for less-sweet functional food and beverage options, tart cherries help innovations connect to the latest trends.

Vibrant red color: The bold, bright red color of tart cherries is due to the concentration of anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol in the flavonoids family. The color red in food and beverage innovations communicate high nutrition content, a dynamic sensory experience and intense flavor profiles.

U.S. grown: Tart cherries are a specialty crop in the United States – primarily grown on small, generations-old family farms.  Montmorency is the varietal most commonly grown in America, and this is meaningful attribute for consumers who increasingly care about food origins and want to support local agriculture. Locally grown produce is associated with better quality and a lower carbon footprint compared to imported foods.

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