Should varietal flavors always be in season?

August 1, 2012
Consumers are seeking out new varieties of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and I think this could be an opportunity for product and flavor development. Think about it: our favorite seasonal fruits and vegetables are harvested at their peak in flavor, make their way to market, and then — it’s over until next year! But what if it didn’t have to be? Consumer interest in varietals and their different flavor profiles is growing, so why not give them a year-round way to enjoy the seasonal flavors they enjoy?

In an interesting twist, the “buy local” trend, which encourages consumers to narrow their scope and support local farmers, has actually broadened their perspective of flavor. As they browse farmers’ markets, looking at locally-grown produce, they see them identified and distinguished by their varietal name. This education into flavor nuances and varieties is taking place all across the country. In fact, many vendors now carry certification for these emerging and unique varietals to validate their authenticity to interested shoppers. This means a lot of people are learning more, exploring more and looking for new flavors!

Fruit varietals in particular illustrate these new adventures in taste that are readily available during the local growing season. The flavors have a sophistication and depth that many consumers now understand and are seeking throughout the marketplace. So, do we need to wait until next season for a Honeycrisp apple, or can a flavor reminiscent of this popular varietal be delivered to adventurous consumers through food or beverage products that are fresh all year-round?