Super fruit power? Pitaya on the 'hot list' for sports nutrition innovation across LATAM

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / alan64
© Getty Images / alan64
Pitaya or 'dragonfruit' is an increasingly popular flavor in Latin America and holds great promise for use in sports nutrition products like pre-workout beverages and protein waters, says Synergy Flavors.

In its recent 'Flavors of the Future'​ report, the ingredients major identified 17 flavors from Latin America and North America that held promise in sports nutrition – a market Synergy Flavors said was being fueled by a growing middle class, particularly in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Argentina.

The report  identified seven flavors of interest for LATAM's sports nutrition market: taro, pitaya, tiramisu, açaí, alfajores, tres leches and papaya cream.

“Combined with an increasing global interest in Latin American cuisine, and the spotlight of recent sporting events shining on Brazil, many sports nutrition manufacturers are looking for the next big flavors from these regions,” ​Synergy Flavors wrote in its report.

Pitaya potential in RTD category

Speaking to FoodNavigator-LATAM, Alexandre Massumoto, marketing research lead at Synergy Flavors, said pitaya (or dragonfruit as it's also known) was a growing flavor in Latin America and had great potential to move mainstream in the near future.

“Dragonfruit has been a traditional fruit from Latin America for decades now, but we have recently seen a growth in dragonfruit-flavored products in the market,” ​Massumoto said.

It was being used in a “good variety of different applications”, ​he said, including white teas, sorbets and energy drinks but held interesting potential for sports nutrition, given its association as a 'super fruit' and range of nutritional benefits.

“The sports nutrition market is one of the fastest-growing markets in the industry and this will bring a lot of innovation for flavors in the next few years,”​ Massumoto said. “...Dragonfruit works very well with protein waters and pre-workout beverages overall. The taste of dragonfruit is subtle – often described as a faint, sweet taste – so it offers a great opportunity for pairing with stronger, more distinct flavors as well.”

Synergy Flavors also identified the root vegetable taro as an 'emerging' flavor for sports nutrition, although noted it was still “ahead of the curve, new to consumers and generally too novel to be on menus”.

The icing on the cake?

Acai © Getty Images alexander ruiz
Acai © Getty Images / alexander ruiz

The remaining flavors - popular fruits or desserts in Latin America - also presented opportunities for sports nutrition manufacturers to innovate with, Synergy Flavors said, especially given how established they were in other product categories.

“We can definitely expect growth in the mainstream flavors in sports nutrition applications. Açaí and tiramisu are mainstream flavors in many other food and beverage segments and we expect them to enter and grow in the sports nutrition market space very soon,”​ said Massumoto.

Açaí, he said, would work particularly well in pre-workout beverages and tiramisu flavor in protein snacks.