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Fruit at the Forefront

The Sweet Versatility of Fruit

November 21, 2022


The natural sweetness of fruit lends itself perfectly to unexpected and unforgettable flavor combinations. 

Fruit can be paired with spicy, smoky or savory ingredients, tempering extreme flavor notes with just the right amount of balance. And this formula can be applied to sauces, dips, marinades, seasoning blends—the list goes on. Techniques like smoking, roasting, caramelizing and pickling also help to bring out complex flavor notes from any type of fruit.
Foodservice operators are capitalizing on consumer desire for unique flavors, using everything from well-known produce to fruit from all over the world to enhance menu items across categories. One Chicago independent pairs savory ham, chevre and peach preserves in its staple Peaches and Cream Sandwich. A sausage-centric concept in Austin, TX incorporates dried figs plumped in port wine inside a bacon and duck sausage link topped with fig chutney, caramelized onions and garlic aioli. And a virtual chicken wing brand offers sauces such as Apple BBQ, Mango Habanero, and Spicy Pineapple Teriyaki. But fruits aren’t just for pairing with proteins. For example, a California-based regional chain creates a unique and healthy Sweet Potato, Mandarin & Pistachio side dish.
On beverage and dessert menus, where fruit flavors are inherently found, operators are experimenting with the unexpected. A playful fried chicken concept serves up a seasonal creamsicle made of cream cheese ice cream dipped in a blood orange shell and covered with sprinkles, while a Midwestern upscale eatery features smoked raspberry coulis on its S’mores Cake. This summer gave way to lots of play with lemonades, integrating flavors such as dragon fruit and acai.


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Natural sugar gives fruit a health halo, and brands will showcase the benefits of fruit with packaging callouts that appeal to health-conscious consumers. Expect to see claims like vitamin and mineral content, immunity-boosting benefits and digestive health highlighted.

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With flavors like lemon, lime, berries and apple already mainstream in snacks, brands will add more specificity to their flavor profiles—think yuzu, key lime, kumquat, Ruby Red grapefruit, guava, acerola cherry and more.

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Chefs will continue experimenting with fruit on the menu, turning to global fruits that align with consumer desire to explore international cuisines. Expect to see flavors such as dragon fruit, cherimoya, kiwano melon, feijoa (pineapple guava) and sour plum.


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Chefs and operators are using the sweetness of fruit to balance spicy and savory flavors across the menu. Common applications include fruit-forward sauces and fruit purees that can be used as glazes for proteins. 

Especially in C&U, where consumers are more readily limiting meat than other cohorts,2 and healthcare with its diverse staff, patients, and residents, interesting offerings that can appeal to plant-based, flexitarian, vegan, and vegetarian diners are a must. Items like Lemon Coconut Carrots, Roasted Apples with Cardamom, and Strawberry Avocado Grain Bowls are seen at flavor-forward C&U concepts.

Complex and unique flavor combinations aren’t lost in the meal kit space, where fruit is keeping things interesting while cooking at home. Offerings such as Pear and Arugula Flatbread, Raspberry and Fig Bites, Quinoa and Makrut Lime Bowls and Yuzu-Orange Glazed Trout are found in abundance.

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A colorful salad with green mango, pomelo and Thai makrut lime showcases how fresh fruit flavors bring balance to a dish—complementing the other ingredients including poached shrimp, mint and crispy fried shallots. Watch Chef Jaime Mestan create this depth of flavor in our Thai Shrimp and Pomelo Salad with Crispy Fried Shallots video.

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Good for Consumers, Good for the Planet

As new applications of fruit become more popular across foodservice, protein processing and the snacking segments, we can see the potential for fruit-forward innovation making a tremendous impact from a sustainability standpoint. That’s why Griffith Foods is proud to partner with International Agriculture Group, an organization focused on reducing food waste by striving to use the entire crop of peeled green bananas to produce NuBana™ Green Banana Powder.

Green bananas are naturally rich in resistant starch, making NuBana™ Green Banana Powder a great source of insoluble dietary fiber. NuBana™ is also rich in magnesium and potassium—nutrients that are highly beneficial to consumers’ health yet typically under-consumed. With its naturally occurring nutritional benefits and International Agriculture Group’s mission to reduce food waste, NuBana™ Green Banana Powder serves as an ideal flour alternative for the health of consumers and the globe alike.

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4 TIPS to bring fruit to the forefront of your menu 

“The abundance of summer and fall fruit has long been an inspiration for chefs. Use your creativity to utilize ripe, full-flavored bruised fruit in your recipes.

Infuse water or stocks with apple or pear peel and cores, citrus peel teas or watermelon rind white gazpacho. Find ways to fully utilize your in season fruits that can also be signature recipes as well as adding additional revenue.”

Chef Scott Gilbert, CEC, AAC, HGT

“Fruits are not only healthy for you; they can add a great depth of flavor as an ingredient in you dishes.

Mixing of fruits with chilies, using fruits in sauces, salsa, and glazes provides unique flavors. Whether you use fruits in a sweet dish or a savory dish they are sure to add texture and natural sweetness every step of the way.”

Chef Michael Hornback, MPS, CEC, WCEC, CCA

“Fruits from around the globe are more present than ever as well as the way Chefs are preparing them/ Not only in their natural state but dehydrated, made into syrups, pureed for sauces and even turned into small spherical garnishes for desserts and cocktails.

Charring fruit such as citrus adds a complex element that works well with any type of grilled protein to elevate and enhance the grilling and smoking flavors.”

Chef David Russell, WCEC, CEC, AAC, HGT, CBJ

“Before using dried fruit as an ingredient, rehydrate it in a liquid that will add complexity to the finished dish, for twenty or thirty minutes. 

Think apricots soaked in orange flower water, prunes soaked in Marsala wine or cherries soaked in rum.” 

Chef Mark Serice, Vice President Global Culinary, Griffith Foods* 

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culinary inspiration

Get inspired by these on-trend concepts to create innovative offerings using Custom Culinary® products. 

Harissa Glazed Stone Fruit with Burrata

Harissa Glazed Stone Fruit with Burrata

Seasonal stone fruit grilled and glazed with honey harissa and served with fresh burrata and arugula.

Featuring: Custom Culinary® Harissa Sauce

Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread with Arugula

Flatbread crushed brushed with a fig beurre blanc sauce topped with thinly sliced prosciutto, fresh figs shaved parmesan cheese finished with fresh arugula and cracked black pepper.

Featuring: Custom Culinary® Beurre Blanc Sauce  


Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread with Arugula

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“Beyond the creativity chefs can enjoy developing dishes using a wide variety of fruit. It is our responsibility in part to offer dishes that enable patrons to get their recommended two cups of fruit per day.”

Chef Michael Smith, WCMC, CEC, AAC

“With procurement and supply chain challenges reaching their peaks over the past few years we can continue to keep fruit at the "forefront" of our innovation efforts. Thankfully with the aid of technology and ambitious farming techniques, we are now able to access once-unattainable fruit responsibly and sustainably. Even local fruit that defies seasonality that arrives from radiuses less than 200 miles from our operation.”

Chef Michael Manno

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© 2022 Griffith Foods. All rights reserved.
*Custom Culinary® is part of the Griffith Foods family of companies.

Source: Mintel, 2022 FlavorIQ® Global Trends and Insights Report, January 2022.