Fruit has long provided a natural sweetness to a wide variety of baked goods. One of the most versatile fruits of the bunch are cherries, which are the star of the show in everything from cherry pie to Black Forest cake and deserve the superfruit label.
Dried and frozen tart cherries, in particular, make great additions to products as they provide an on-trend sweet and sour flavor profile, a halo of potential health benefits, a pop of bright red color and added texture.
Tart cherries are a sought-after ingredient by health-conscious consumers who don’t want to sacrifice taste, according to the Cherry Industry Board of Directors (CIAB). They are able to add the right flavor profile to a range of foods and products. The ingredient has become so popular that new products made with tart cherries have increased by 113% over the past 5 years, according to Mintel’s Global New Product Database.
Sweet products such as ice cream, muffins, and nutrition bars are some of the items that lend themselves to tart cherries as an inclusion. An example of this would be the Rustic Cherry Pie, Cocoa Nib and Artisan Almond Chips, and Kashi Cherry Dark Chocolate Bar.
The health halo of this ingredient cannot be ignored. Tart cherries are a superfruit with many nutritional benefits that appeal to consumers who would feel better about buying indulgent foods with their inclusion. The CIAB claims that tart cherries are one of the natural dietary sources of melatonin, with scientific research having explored sleep duration and quality, insomnia and sleep efficiency following their consumption. Other studies have determined that eating tart cherries is beneficial for exercise recovery, gout attacks, arthritis symptoms, heart health, blood pressure, and gut health.
Because tart cherries help enhance the eating occasion, they provide a higher quality to a finished product. 2020 Datassential Custom Research found that more than half of consumers said they would spend more on tart cherry products, with health-conscious shoppers even more likely to pay extra.
Additionally, there has been an emphasis on supporting local businesses and agriculture in the United States. Montmorency tart cherries are grown in America, a significant quality for consumers who increasingly care about where food comes from and want to support local agriculture.
Another key aspect of using tart cherries as an inclusion is their visual appeal. Varieties of colorful produce are trending on menus as consumers associate bright colors with nutritional value. This, along with the Instagram-friendly look of red tart cherries, makes it a hit for many different items.
With the many sensory benefits they provide, it’s no wonder tart cherries have become a go-to ingredient for product developers.