- After filling a customer’s request for mamey-flavored lollipops, French flavor house Aromatech tells Confectionery News it believes there is a greater market for the Latin American fruit. The mamey is roughly one pound, shaped like a mango and has dense bright orange flesh.
- Aromatech developed the mamey flavoring at its U.S. facility and sells it in a clear liquid form. It's currently incorporated in both dairy and confectionary recipes in the U.S., Turkey and France.
- The French company reports the mamey-derived flavor costs slightly more than an artificial equivalent. However, it added that it’s possible to create this cheaper artificial flavor and offer it in powder form.
Exotic flavors are in demand right now in food and beverage applications. Thanks in part to millennials’ adventurous taste palates, ingredients such as blood orange, ginger and jasmine are popping up in new formulations. If mamey fruit can overcome certain challenges that have stymied wider acceptance to this point, it could become the new mango and make its way into the produce section as more U.S. grocery stores.
The first problem is its cost. Prices in Miami for the fruit range from $3 to $5 per pound. Mamey is grown in South Florida and often sold at local bodegas, so there is no major import tax or shipping cost involved. The average fruit weighs one pound, making it an affordable, occasional treat locally. If that same mamey had to hop on a truck bound for Minnesota, its price would multiply.
Another issue is production. It takes two years to produce one mamey fruit — one year for it to grow from a flower to a fruit and another to ripen. Once they are ripe, they spoil quickly. This fruit also cannot tolerate freezing temperatures, so it needs to be exclusively grown in warm climates.
Those fortunate enough to score a ripe one report a decadent flavor similar to sweet potato casserole, complete with brown sugar and honey notes.
While the fruit may not reach kale-like status in American homes, the flavor might have a future in both dairy and candy applications. Aromatech has already found a way to create a natural, liquid derivative of the sweet, small melon. The new flavor has the potential to be a big hit in ice cream, almond milk and candy alike.
The addition of a mamey-flavored candy could help confectionary makers differentiate themselves from the competition and appeal to curious consumers eager to try new ethnic flavors.
The mamey flavor may not appeal to a broad enough consumer base to warrant a nationwide launch, but it could become a niche market hit. Cities with a large Latin American population would likely respond positively to the flavor, as it would be a familiar taste. Mamey would also do well with millennials and Generation Z consumers who are undaunted by a ingredient they’ve never heard of or tried.
Supermarkets, which often struggle to get a steady supply of exotic fruits and vegetables, also could benefit from carrying the exotic item if they could get it. Specialty global produce can attract a loyal customer base as adventurous shoppers seek new exotic foods, according to Progressive Grocer. Other unique fruits found in stores include jackfruit, dragon fruit, yellow-fleshed kiwis, sweet young coconuts, papaya, turmeric, Indian okra, and the wiry rambutan fruit from South East Asia.