COVID-19 brings opportunities for APAC manufacturers to leverage nutrient-rich Yuzu extracts for a healthy halo, says GlobalData

East Asian citrus fruit Yuzu has claimed its place among the ‘superfruits’ for its flavor, nutritional value and potential health attributes. Additionally, it has also become a star ingredient in the food, beverages and beauty formulations across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Against this backdrop, manufacturers can exploit the floral and citrus fragrance of Yuzu for products designed to appeal to the consumers looking for a calming and relaxing fragrance in their food and non-food products, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Yuzu, being a citrus fruit native to northeast Asia, can be found in Korea, China, and Japan. Citrus fruits contain dietary components such as hesperidin, naringin, luteolein, limonene and vitamin C, which confer health benefits that include preventing cardiovascular diseases and improving blood circulation.

According to GlobalData Covid-19 week 7 (5-10 May) survey, almost 73% Indians, 61% Chinese and 53% Australians are always/often influenced by how product impacts their health and wellbeing. The survey also reveals 31% Indians and 43% Chinese buy more of vitamins and health supplements since the outbreak of COVID-19.

The growing popularity of Japanese cuisine and Asian beauty concepts such as J-beauty, K-beauty and C-beauty is driving global awareness about ingredients from the region such as Yuzu. Modern scientific studies are unravelling the food’s value and potential health, and beauty benefits, and paving the way for the application of the fruit in food, beverage, and beauty formulations.

Shagun Sachdeva, Consumer Insights Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Yuzu seems to be a promising ingredient in premium, clean-label, personalized health food and drinks. Beyond food and beverages, it will also find its application in personal care sector, given its anti-aging qualities and its floral aroma making it the right ingredient for skincare, make-up as well as bath and shower products.”

With the ever-increasing internet penetration, growing health awareness and willingness to try new experiences, consumers have taken note of indigenous ingredients such as Yuzu. This has resulted in increased cultivation and usage of the fruit, however production still lags behind demand, as the Yuzu tree takes a decade or more to bear fruit, tends to ripen quickly and lose its prized aroma post-harvest.

Shagun adds: “Due to its rarity, fresh Yuzu fruit commands a premium price, much higher than the other citrus fruits. The price point can be the major factor impeding widespread adoption of Yuzu.”

The trend of consumers managing their health through their diets is driving demand for Yuzu in food and beverages. With its high concentration of nutrients, beneficial bioactive compounds such as antioxidants, and relaxing aroma, it is unsurprising that consumers across APAC are have embraced Yuzu in their cuisine. A host of Yuzu-infused food and beverages are already available in retail stores across countries such as Japan, China and Korea.  In countries such as Australia, restaurants hit by the coronavirus and distilleries have come together to offer Yuzu vermouth to the consumers.

In Japan products such as Yamato Yuzu ponzu, Takara craft chūhai, Akashi-Tai yuzhushu, and KitKat Yuzushu bijofu chocolate wafer bars, while Duwon Yuzu tea marmalade in South Korea are some of the prime examples of products that finds shelf presence.

While Yuzu can be found in a plethora of East Asian products, only a handful of mainstream cosmetics and personal care brands have adopted it. The purported anti-aging, tone-whitening, and rejuvenating properties, and pleasant scent is spurring the use of Yuzu in traditional Asian cosmetics.

Shagun concludes: “Consumer-facing companies are testing new business models, extending their portfolios, and repositioning them to suit the evolved consumer needs. In the current scenario, when consumers are on nutrient hunt, FMCG formulators can rely on this star ingredient to bring a unique, healthy and premium twist in their offerings.”

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