Flavor Insight: Prickly Pear

October 4, 2021
Flavor Trends
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Named for its pear-like shape and size, the prickly pear (also known as the cactus pear) is the fruit of the cactus and is native to the United States, Mexico and South America. This fruit has a melon-like aroma and a sweet but somewhat less impactful flavor. Prickly pear is making a comeback after several years of decline, especially in the alcoholic beverage category. We are spotting a 60% increase in new product introductions globally and a 67% increase in new menu items from Q2 2020-Q2 2021. Let’s take a closer look at prickly pear and see where it is appearing on the menu, in new products and social media.

Prickly Pear Social Listening Summary

We conducted a social listening analysis on prickly pear covering the previous 12 months. An overview is provided below.

3,135 mentions in the past year

51% male—key consumer voice

Popular Post

Blog: Iconiccocktail.com posted a blog: “Prickly pear is Arizona’s THING just like Maine has their lobster, Philly has their cheesesteaks, and Wisconsin has their curds. The valley of the sun has been blessed with little pink gems that grow like wildflowers. If you live here in Phoenix, September is the month when you can’t miss them in the wild.”

45 prickly pear recipes on foodnetwork.com

On Foodnetwork.com 45 total recipes appear when searching for prickly pear. The recipes include mostly beverages from prickly pear coolers, prickly pear martinis, margaritas, iced tea and sangria. Food recipes include prickly pear sorbet and even a recipe for quince and prickly pear croquembouche.

7 Prickly Pear Recipes That Are Full of Fruity Flavor

In an August 2021 article from Allrecipes.com, they highlight prickly pear recipes that are full for fruity flavor. “Prickly pears (a.k.a. cactus figs), the edible fruits that grow on the nopales cactus, are as delicious as they are gorgeous. With a sweet and bright flavor that’s hard to describe (some people say it tastes like watermelon!), this fresh ingredient adds fruity flavor to everything from cocktails to jams and jellies. In this collection of our best prickly pear recipes, you’ll find fantastic new ideas to add to your recipe repertoire.”

Prickly Pear on the Menu

Casual dining is the top restaurant segment, with beverage as the top menu section with the most prickly pear flavored menu items. Beverages account for 89% of all prickly pear flavored menu items.

CASUAL DINING: Prickly Pear Margarita with Patron Silver Tequila, Cointreau, prickly pear juice, lemon and lime juices at Jinga Bistro in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

CASUAL DINING: Summer Salad with seasonal greens, jicama, fresh mango, crisp green apple, prickly pear vinaigrette at Kachina Southwestern Grill in Westminster, Colorado.

FINE DINING: Tres Leches Cake described as three milks cake, moist sponge cake, prickly pear Chantilly cream with seasonal fruit at Reposado Restaurant in Palo Alto, California.

Consumer Awareness of Prickly Pear

Prickly pear is gaining consumer awareness according to Datassential’s Flavor Tool, it is in the 32nd percentile among all food and flavors, meaning that consumers love prickly pear more than 32% of all other items.

  • 16% love or like it

  • 60% know it

  • 26% have tried it

  • Most popular in the West & Midwest regions of the United States

Prickly Pear Global New Product Introductions 2015-2021

102 Prickly Pear Flavored New Product Introductions


  • EUROPE is the top global region for prickly pear flavored new product introductions.

  • JUICE DRINKS is the top product category globally for prickly pear flavored new products.

  • ORANGE is the top flavor paired with prickly pear.

Products of Note:

Rockstar prickly pear flavored Energy + Hemp drink: A prickly pear flavored energy drink that contains hemp seed extract, caffeine, B-vitamins, guarana, ginseng and taurine. | Germany

Sanpellegrino Orange & Prickly Pear Sparkling Water: This flavor variety has been added to the range and contains 16% juice. | Costa Rica

Teekanne Green & White Tea Selection: Contains a variety of flavored green and white teas. One flavor vareity includes: prickly pear green tea. | Poland

Prickly Pear North America New Product Introductions 2015-2021

21 prickly pear flavored new product introductions


  • NORTH AMERICA accounts for 21% of the prickly pear flavored new product introductions.

  • ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE is the top product category for prickly pear flavored new products in North America.

  • ORANGE & MANGO (separately) are the top flavor paired with prickly pear in North America.

Products of Note:

It's Jerky Y'all Prickly Pear Chipotle Plant-Based Jerky: A tender jerky made from certified non-GMO soy and all natural ingredients. This hand-made product features a flavor that represents a region in Texas and contains 18g of protein. | USA

New Mexico Prickly Pear Jelly Orange Marmalade: Cactus grown in East Albuquerque. Contains prickly pear, fresh oranges, cane sugar, pectin and organic lemon juice. | USA

Karbach Brewing Ranch Water Hard Seltzer Variety Pack: Described as the perfect blend of hard seltzer with lime and agave, contains 90 calories, 1g of carbs and less than 1% juice. One of the flavors in this variety pack is prickly pear. | USA

The Takeaways

Prickly pear is making a comeback around the globe. Europe is the key region for new product introductions and North America accounts for 21% of all new prickly pear flavored products. Even in the past 8 months of 2021, there has been growth with new prickly pear flavored items both in new products and on restaurant menus. Beverage leads the way and accounts for 6 out of the 10 top product categories. The question is—is prickly pear on your Flavor Radar?

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Sources in full report