Flavor Insight: Hibiscus

July 8, 2020
Flavor Trends
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Hibiscus is a tropical plant or bush with large brightly colored flowers. When the dried petals are steeped in hot (or cold) water, they release a tart, almost-cranberry like flavor and a deep red-violet color that looks more like cabernet than chamomile. Over the past 5 years, hibiscus has been showing growth around the globe with a 78% increase in new products since 2014. Europe is the key region for growth with 35% of all hibiscus flavored new products. Let’s take a closer look at the various forms of hibiscus on the menu, in social media, and in new products.

Social Listening Summary

We conducted a social listening analysis on hibiscus covering the previous 12 months. An overview is provided below.

2.4  mentions per minute

70% female voice

Key Consumer Interests:

  1. 60% Food & Drink

  2. 35% Desserts & Baking

  3. 24% Humor & Satire

Top Posts

Instagram: @sunsol_muesli from Melbourne, Australia posted a recipe for “The most extra cake: strawberry hibiscus shortbread tart, with the most beautiful details... and it happens to be vegan!”

On Food.com, 44 recipes appear when you search for hibiscus. Recipes are mostly beverage and include hibiscus tea, hibiscus punch and hibiscus sangria. Other non-beverage recipes include: hibiscus nectar cake and hibiscus flower enchiladas.

Hibiscus Sorbet

In the June 2019 issue of Saveur magazine, they highlight a sorbet recipe from La Tropicale in Paris which is meant for beginners. This sorbet does not include fruit but includes “dried hibiscus flowers and fresh ginger make for a sweet-tart, slightly spicy sorbet that's utterly irresistible.” The recipe is simple with only three ingredients and the ability to control the overall sugar content for a refreshing dessert.

Harissa on the Menu: Q4 2018- Q4 2019

1,016 Hibiscus Mentions on the Menu

Fine Dining is the top restaurant segment, with beverage, dessert and appetizer the top three menu sections with the most hibiscus-flavored items. Beverages account for 83% of all hibiscus-flavored menu items.

Menu Mentions:

  • Hibiscus Apple Cider features a vitamin rich hibiscus flowers, crisp apples and a touch of caramel at Argo Tea, nationwide.

  • Chicken Al Pastor features crispy melted cheese, hibiscus and chipotle tinga, avocado, pina habanero pico at Puesto in La Jolla, California.

  • Corn Hibiscus Dessert features a hibiscus meringue, corn pudding, and ‘charred milk’ ice cream at Le Bernardin in New York, NY.

21% of US consumers would like to see items with floral flavors on a menu when dining out. - Mintel

Hibiscus Global New Product Introductions 2014-2019

1,215 Hibiscus flavored new product introductions


  • EUROPE is the top global region for plum new product introductions with 35% of all new products.

  • TEA is the top product sub-category globally for hibiscus flavored new products.

  • RASPBERRY is the top flavor paired with hibiscus.

Outdoor Organic Nutrition Organic Cherry, Almond and Hibiscus Nutritional Bars: Created and cooked in the French Alps with Guérande salt, and is described as a concentrate of complete natural energy to go outside to play. | France

Nestle Nesfit Skimmed Yogurt with Red Fruits, Oat and Hibiscus: Made with wholegrain oats and fruit and is free from lactose, fat and added sugar, is a source of fiber and protein, and contains 6g of protein per package. | Brazil

Goodleaf Berry & Hibiscus Flavored CBD Infused Sparkling Drink: This African botanical spring water contains broad spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) which is known for its calming properties and said to hydrate the body and nourish the mind. | South Africa

Hibiscus North America New Product Introductions 2014-2019

151 harissa flavored new product introductions


  • NORTH AMERICA accounts for 12% of all hibiscus flavored new product introductions.

  • TEA is the top product sub-category for hibiscus flavored new products.

  • RASPBERRY is the top flavor paired with hibiscus.

La Croix Naturally Hi-Biscus Essenced Sparkling Water: This product is free from calories, sweeteners and sodium. 39% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would purchase this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

Wallaby Organic Aussie Greek No Sugar Added Peach Hibiscus Whole Milk Yogurt:  Naturally flavored and contains with 4.5% milkfat and 11 g protein. 39% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would purchase this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

Lady May Sweets and Confections Blueberry Hibiscus Gourmet Gummy Teddies:  Made with real fruit juice and premium ingredients and 100 calories per serving. 35% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would purchase this product, the same as its subcategory. | USA

The Takeaways

Hibiscus is showing consistent growth over the past 5 years and new products are being introduced around the globe. We are also spotting growth in hibiscus flavored menu items, with fine dining as the top restaurant segment and beverage accounting for 83% of all hibiscus flavored menu items. For those posting about hibiscus on social media the words green (as it relates to the inclusion of hibiscus in juice), iced, drink, delicious, and ginger are the words most often associated with posts about hibiscus. The floral flavor profile adds a unique top-note beyond beverages and is being introduced in yogurt, ice cream and even confectionery products. The question is—is hibiscus on your Flavor Radar?

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Sources in full report