Citrus is everywhere. This unique, timeless, versatile fruit fits into our daily lives and shapes a variety of products that we all know and love.

As you go about your day, you most likely eat, drink, or smell something citrus. Beverages, foods, household cleaners, and perfumes—all of them contain citrus. Some are obvious, like a glass of orange juice in the morning. Others might take you by surprise. No other fruit that is so closely associated with freshness has ever been so popular. Discover the many facets of citrus and what makes these juicy fruits the secret stars among all fruits.

50%

of all beverages are at least partially citrus-based

4

stages comprise the dynamics
of refreshment

58

ingredients define the taste of cola

What Drives Refreshment?

Our Beverages Refreshment Study was specifically designed to explore how consumers across Europe and the Middle East perceive refreshment within non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, as well as hot teas. We wanted to decode the key rules of refreshment:

  • What creates the impression of refreshment?
  • How can you drive greater refreshment across key categories?
  • How to create the world's most refreshing drink?

Key outcomes from this insightful study include: refreshment is a moment between two states, from uncomfortable to comfortable. Refreshment takes you from thirsty to rehydrated, from stressed to relaxed.

Water stands alone as the greatest driver of refreshment, but the second greatest source is fruit. Lemon and lime ranked the highest across most markets. With their almost contradictory tastes—between bitter, sour, and sweet—it creates a physical effect in the consumer which, in turn, drives refreshment. Citrus fruits deliver a “sting” to the mouth and prompt alertness.

Refreshment is a journey, and taste is only one element. The road to refreshment involves many emotional dimensions: from the sound you hear when you open the packaging to the beverage's ability to take you from a negative to a positive state.Claudius Kohrt, Marketing Director Beverages EAME at Symrise

The refreshment journey

  • Pre-drinking: seeing and hearing is believing
  • The first sip: sets the tone
  • The taste: strikes a balance between sweet and sour
  • The aftertaste: confirms the refreshment’s quality

The Fruit Spectrum

Although lemon and lime are the most refreshing fruits across many countries, there are still a few exceptions. This knowledge allows us to cater to the preferences of consumers in individual countries, meeting their specific needs. Examples include forest fruits in Scandinavia, oranges in Spain, and peaches in Egypt.

  

The idea of what makes a beverage refreshing varies from country to country. Our study's findings allow us to provide our customers with tailored insights to make their products the most refreshing, depending on demographics, occasions, and brands.Claudius Kohrt, Marketing Director Beverages EAME at Symrise

The Many Faces of Bergamot

There are many lesser-known citrus fruits around the world, and bergamot is one of them. Few would be able to name it or trace the scent back from so many of its products. Bergamot has a familiar yet different citrus taste, combining a classical fresh citrus profile with a wide array of other sensory notes. This is reason enough for us to make it more prominent.

Bergamot is a fragrant, yellow fruit around the size of an orange and a prime example of citrus' versatility. Considering some of its characteristics, bergamot is unlikely to be a consumer’s favorite:

  • It should not be consumed as fresh fruit, and the juice is hardly digestible because of its sour and bitter taste.
  • Bitter oranges share these traits, yet they are popular as marmalades. Only a few would make marmalade out of bergamot, though: it is far too floral for this.
  • Compared to other citrus fruits, bergamot is not visually appealing, making it an unsuitable garden ornament.

So Why Do We Love Bergamot?

The secret is in its peel. It has one of the most distinct citrus peel oils. Its taste has millions of fans worldwide when combined with black tea to form the famous Earl Grey. Its smell is known to all fans of Eau de Cologne, and it is a key ingredient in most male and female perfumes around the world.

The Secret Uses of Bergamot

  • Earl Grey tea
  • Premium perfumes
  • Skincare creams
  • Deodorants
  • Bergamocello liqueurs

Cola’s Secret Taste

Citrus is an essential part of cola, and it has been the driving force behind its refreshing qualities for decades.

Rumor has it that there are huge safes in the headquarters of major cola producers, protecting some of the world’s biggest trade secrets: the formulas of a black liquid that generations of consumers have fallen in love with. Cola has been a consumer favorite for more than 100 years and access to its secret recipes would surely make one rich. But that might not necessarily be true. Our technical teams can split the beverage into two distinct elements: citrus and botanical. This is interesting because cola has always been positioned as having a refreshing taste profile, yet the botanical element actually has the opposite sensation—warming cinnamon and vanilla notes, among others. This combination creates cola's complex, delicious flavor.

Cola is where our competences meet: the refreshing citrus is mixed with warming vanilla notes, mellowed by the process. Add a few other botanicals, like cinnamon or cassia, ginger and cola nut, plus caramel for the color, and you have your well-rounded indulgent side that balances the fruity fresh citrus taste.Günther Zach, Vice President Beverage Innovation at Symrise

Zesty refreshment meets comforting indulgence. This contradiction is central to cola’s global success. Its taste is complex with many ingredients and sensory contrasts— this has made it a consumer favorite for decades.