Fruit Flavor is the Real Hero of Hard Seltzer  

Over the last few years, one segment of the beverage industry that grew much faster than expectations is hard seltzer. What once seemed like a product limited to a pandemic-era spike in interest has now become one of the most popular types of beverages on the market. Why have hard seltzers turned into a go-to drink for so many? It may be because they have a similar alcohol content to beer but with far fewer calories. But it may also be because of the endlessly creative array of fruit flavors that are used to make them.

What is Hard Seltzer?

Hard seltzer is a type of beverage that generally has three main components: alcohol, carbonated water, and some kind of flavoring. The alcohol can vary from brand to brand, but it is typically made by fermenting malted barley or cane sugar. The flavoring in hard seltzer also varies by brand, and some use artificial fruit flavoring while others use real fruit juice. In the beverage industry, they are considered “flavored malt beverages” with about 4-6% of alcohol by volume (ABV).

Another reason hard seltzers have become more popular is the fact that they tend to have relatively low calorie and carbohydrate count. A regular beer, for instance, has about 150 calories and 15-30 grams of carbohydrates; the same sized container of hard seltzer, by contrast, has only about 100 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrates. This perception of hard seltzers as “healthier” is a major factor in the rapid growth of the hard seltzer market that is estimated to be worth upwards of $10 billion over the next few years.    

Where Does the Fruit Flavor Come From?

When most hard seltzers first came on the market, they were typically made with artificial flavorings synthetically derived from chemicals. Since they’ve exploded in popularity over the last several years, however, more manufacturers are turning to flavorings that are derived from actual fruit juice. The motivation for this shift is at least in part because of the increased interest in healthier foods and drinks that has become a common trend throughout the food and beverage industry. More consumers than ever expect real fruit products to be used so they can get both the flavor and the health benefits.

Indeed, many manufacturers have actually switched to using real fruit as a way of increasing sales. Because even though hard seltzers are relatively new on the scene, they’re already competing with another new popular product: ready-to-drink cocktails that tend to include a distilled spirit with a fruit juice base. This has meant there is an across-the-board increase in the use of fruit juices, essences, extracts, and purees to meet the demands of consumers’ ever evolving tastes and preferences. Using real fruit gives manufacturers the opportunity to create more flavorful and colorful beverages that consumers can taste and see.

What Are Some Common Fruits Used for Hard Seltzer?   

People have been using carbonated water as a drink mixer for a very long time, and fruit flavors have always been a natural choice to accompany the fizzy effervescence. The combination of bubbly water and bright fruit flavors make for a refreshing beverage that evokes images of summer days. Almost any fruit can be a tasty addition to a hard seltzer, but some categories of fruits seem to be perennial favorites: 

  • Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit are consistently some of the most popular flavors for hard seltzers and a number of other beverages. Citrus fruits tend to add a light and tangy twist that pairs well with the kind of alcohol used in a hard seltzer. Also, not only do these crisp flavors go well with carbonated water, they also pair well together; lemon and lime, for instance, are a classic combination that gets used over and over again.
  • Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are widely loved for being sweet and juicy with usually a little bit of tartness. Virtually every kind of berry can add a refreshing burst of natural sweetness to a hard seltzer. Also, like citrus fruits, many berries can be put together in different combinations to create a variety of robust and well-balanced flavors.
  • Tropical fruits: Another category of fruit that has become increasingly popular in recent years is tropical fruit. Tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and passion fruit infuse a hard seltzer with flavors that are exotic and which conjure images of sun-kissed beaches and palm trees. The natural sweetness and aromatic profile of such fruits add a unique and delightful twist to any hard seltzer.  
  • Stone fruits: Stone fruit as a category may not be quite as popular as some other choices, but some of the flavors have become similarly familiar, especially when blended with other fruits. Examples include peaches, apricots, and cherries; they each have a distinctive flavor that blends well with the light and bubbly nature of hard seltzers. These fruits bring both a touch of sweetness and subtle tartness to the beverage. Stone fruits are also known for their fragrant aromas, adding an enticing element to the overall drinking experience.
  • Apple varieties: Apples are a versatile fruit, and the many different varieties also have a wide range of flavor profiles that all work well in a hard seltzer. In fact, rather than just “apple flavor,” more manufacturers are selecting specific varieties (like Granny Smith) because of their well-known taste. Apple-infused seltzers offer a crisp and familiar taste that appeals to a wide range of consumers and can additionally be paired with other fruit flavors.

Trust FruitSmart for Premium Hard Seltzer Ingredients

Hard seltzers are just one of the many applications for the fruit ingredients available from FruitSmart. Our produce comes from only the best growers around the country, and we transform those raw materials into high-quality, ready-to-use ingredients. Regardless of your needs, our innovative and service-oriented team is excited to partner with you and help you deliver excellent final products for your customers. If you’d like to learn more about FruitSmart and how we can help you develop your next winning recipe, please contact us today to speak with one of our team members.

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