What it is: Chinese citrus
Number of new products worldwide*: 46
How it's marketed: As a yup-scale citrus scent. The name is being slapped on everything from restaurants to blogs and record labels. But no food breakouts yet.
In its favor: Chinese mysticism holds that it brings good luck. Boil the skins and leaves to prepare a ceremonial bath, which will purportedly ward off evil spirits. Tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit. Currently infiltrating our consciousness through such products as Illuminations Orange Pomelo Candles.
Hurdles: Too frou-frou. And not enough people know about that whole warding-off-evil thing.
Odds of becoming the next pomegranate: 100,000: 1
What it is: A red berry from China
Number of new products worldwide*: 40
How it's marketed: Mystical Tibetan superfood that's the secret to chi, or life energy. In other words, catnip to aging yuppie boomers.
In its favor: "They have a mild flavor [between a cranberry and a cherry], a pink color, and they're very cute," says Marc Halperin, culinary director of the Center for Culinary Development. Plus: 18 amino acids, more iron than spinach, and more beta-carotene than carrots.
Hurdles: Cost. An 8-ounce bag costs $10. Also, "they're too potent to munch like Doritos," says Christopher Daugherty, CEO of Essential Living Foods, a goji supplier.
Odds of becoming the next pomegranate: 8:1
(pronounced guar-a-NA or guar-AH-na)
What it is: A fruit from a shrub native to Venezuela and Brazil
Number of new products worldwide*: 412
How it's marketed: The secret that keeps Brazilians dancing all night.
In its favor: As marketers add "energy" to a wider variety of foods besides beverages, guarana, a natural stimulant akin to caffeine, is a good mixer. It's already an ingredient in a large number of energy drinks. Also, there's the Brazil factor. "It's risqué," says Tom Vierhile, director of Productscan Online. "They gave us the thong, you know."
Hurdles: Most companies use it for the stimulant, not the flavor, relegating it to sidekick status and rarely a starring role.
Odds of becoming the next pomegranate: 5:1
What it is: A palm berry found in South American rainforests
Number of new products worldwide*: 50
How it's marketed: The triple play—tastes good, good for you, good for the planet.
In its favor: "You could eat açaí and nothing else," says Ryan Black, founder and CEO of Sambazon, a major açaí purveyor. He's referring to claims that açaí has two times the antioxidants found in blueberries, as well as Omega fatty acids, protein, and fiber.
Hurdles: "The taste is polarizing," says Productscan's Vierhile. Indeed, not everyone likes what can be a chalky, unsweetened-chocolate berry flavor.
Odds of becoming the next pomegranate: 3:1
* New stock-keeping units (SKUs) worldwide from January 1, 2005 to September 5, 2006, food and beverage only
Source: Productscan Online
"I think we'll be moving from South America and China to Africa," says Vierhile. "We're not as familiar with African flavors and travel there isn't as prevalent." Monkey-bread fruit pulp, anyone?
A version of this article appeared in the November 2006 issue of Fast Company magazine.