Flavor Insight: Key Lime

February 7, 2020
Dessert Flavor Ingredients Trends Indulgence Keto
Click Here for the full report!

Most well-known for its use in the Key Lime Pie, key limes are smaller and rounder than the traditional lime and grown in subtropical North America. The Key Lime has a bolder, slightly floral aroma and is known for its sharp and incredibly sour taste. From 2018-2019, key lime flavored new products are growing globally with 69% growth. In North America (the top region for key lime) it’s no surprise that we are seeing 114% growth for the same timeframe. Let’s take a closer look at the various forms of Key Lime on the menu, in social media and in new products.

Social Listening Summary

We conducted a social listening analysis on key lime covering the previous six months. An overview is provided below.

  • 24 mentions per hour

  • 78% Female Voice

  • Keywords: pie, graham cracker, ice cream

  • Key Consumer Interests: 76% food & drink; 56% desserts & baking; 23% humor & satire

Top Posts:

  • Facebook: Blackbird Bakery’s Key Lime Cake with Key Lime Curd and Key Lime Buttercream Frosting.

  • Instagram: Recipe for a veggie stir fry with a Key Lime Sauce.

  • Pinterest: Recipe for Key Lime Cupcakes.

On Food.com, 427 recipes appear when you search for key lime. Recipes include mostly baked goods with the ever-famous Key Lime pie as the majority of the recipes, but other recipes include: Key Lime cheesecake squares, Key Lime muffins, Key Lime cocktail sauce, Key Lime martinis and margaritas.

A Delightful, Bright Taste:

On December 10, 2019, the Boston Globe featured a recipe for loaf cakes that include key lime juice. They state that “citrus brings a delightful, bright taste to cold weather baking.” The rind of three limes and bottled Key Lime juice are included in the cake and the cake is topped with the glaze while still warm to maximize the Key Lime flavor.

Key Lime on the Menu: Q3 2018-Q3 2019

376 Key Lime mentions on the menu

Casual Dining is the top restaurant segment, with dessert, entree and beverage the top three menu sections with the most key lime-flavored items. Desserts account for 69% of all key lime-flavored menu items.

Menu Mentions:

  • Tuna Tartare is served with golden beets, avocado, Thai chilies and a Key Lime Mustard at Cut 432 in Delray Beach, FL.

  • Key Lime Old Fashioned Soda at Andy’s Frozen Custard with locations in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas.

  • Wood Grilled Salmon is basted with Key lime butter and served with fresh vegetables at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill in Newark, Delaware.

  • Key Lime Pie on a Peppery Ginger Crust as Agave Restaurant in Atlanta, GA.

Key Lime Festival of Key West

The Key Lime Festival is a yearly tradition for those who live and Florida as well as those that come from far and wide to celebrate. This year it includes four full days of culinary tastings, pie eating contest, cocktail sip & stroll, Key Lime rim tasting, Key Lime Scavenger Hunt and Key Lime cookbook signing and Champagne reception.


Key Lime Global New Product Introductions 2014-2019

215 key lime flavored new product introductions


  • NORTH AMERICA is the top global region for key lime new product introductions with 65% of all new products.

  • SPOONABLE YOGURT is the top product sub-category globally for key lime flavored new products.

  • CAKE is the top flavor paired with key lime.


  • True fruits greatest hit Vol. 1 Smoothie: Made with 99% fruits, including puréed pineapple, pressed apple, pressed orange, puréed banana, puréed cashew fruit, pressed key lime, a dash of spirulina extract and puréed mint leaves. | Germany

  • Ahmad Tea Key lime pie green tea: The 100% natural product is a blend of green tea with lime pie flavour. It features a light golden infusion with a garden citrus aroma, the traditional sweetness of Chinese green tea, and a creamy lime aftertaste. | Russia

  • Yves Thuries Key Lime Chocolate Macaron-Shaped Confections: Made with key lime juice and a hint of natural vanilla. This product is produced in France with a special coating process that gives a shiny and crunchy outside, and a smooth inside texture. | France

Key Lime North America New Product Introductions 2014-2019

140 key lime flavored new product introductions

  • NORTH AMERICA is showing 114% growth from 2018-2019 of key lime flavored new product introductions.

  • SPOONABLE YOGURT is the top product sub-category for key lime flavored new products.

  • CAKE is the top flavor paired with key lime.


  • Betty Crocker Chilled Treats Key Lime Mousse Mix: A mousse mix that is mixed with milk and ready in 5 minutes after being chilled. 63% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would purchase this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. |USA

  • Wegmans Organic Super Yogurt Pre & Probiotic Blended Key Lime Lowfat Yogurt: Made with other natural flavors, 1% milkfat, vitamin D added and probiotics. 60% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would purchase this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. |USA

  • Halo Top Key Lime Pie Light Ice Cream: A summer 2019 limited edition flavor. 49% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would purchase this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. |USA

The Takeaways

The interest in Key lime spans beyond North America and is showing growth globally. For those posting about Key lime on social media: key interests are food & drink and desserts & baking. This refreshing flavor adds a bright complexity to dishes beyond pie and baked goods and has been spotted in cocktails, yogurt, teas and even chocolate. The question is: is key lime on your Flavor Radar?

Click here for the full report!

You deserve more. Let’s get started.

What does true partnership look like? You deserve a flavor partner ready to turn these trends into the tangible.

Let FONA’s market insight and research experts get to work for you. Translate these trends into bold new ideas for your brand. Increase market share and get to your “what’s next.” Our technical flavor and product development experts are also at your service to help meet the labeling and flavor profile needs for your products to capitalize on this consumer trend. Let’s mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution.

From concept to manufacturing, we’re here for you — every step of the way. Contact our sales service department at 630.578.8600 to request a flavor sample or chat us up at www.fona.com/chat

Sources in full report