A global world of taste
Life before the pandemic may seem a distant memory to some. Cocktails with friends, coffee and cake in a bustling street café were fond pastimes before the COVID-19 outbreak. The trend scouts at Esarom believe that the meaning of sensory flavors and experiences has evolved. But is it rather a question of newly acquired taste preferences?
Pre-pandemic, consumers were used to everything being available everywhere and at any time. Exotic fruit and spices from around the world evoked a sense of adventure, as consumers sought new eating experiences and taste combinations. In search of new trends, the modern consumer could pluck a taste experience from anywhere they imagined, and it could be eaten from the comfort of their home, wherever that may be.
Regionality does not mean that we should renounce the taste of other cultures, says Winter. “Other worlds of taste bring diversity, let us dream of other countries even if we cannot travel and visit them. This refreshes us. It sweetens our everyday life, which is simple and uncomplicated,” she notes. “Despite the focus on regionality we remain open-minded, curious and globally linked and love the taste of the world.”
Consumers will still crave adventure, albeit from inside their own homes. Winter highlights the opportunity to bring the world to people’s homes, through taste and flavor. “Taste experiences and adventures can bring variety and excitement into their diet, and they can also offer special moments during the day. For example, lunch with the family can become a high point of the day or dinner for two can become a romantic event which can evoke the senses and create a unique experience in everyday life,” she says.
Additionally, the steadily growing health-conscious consumer will push foods and beverages with functional ingredients, according to Winter. “The taste of superfoods and fruits are in line with this,” she comments. “Goji, açaí, cranberry or local ingredients such as blueberries, cowberries, currants, aronia and hemp are all local superfoods with a long tradition of experience and revival.”
Nostalgia in uncertain times
Consumers are opting for nostalgia where they can, according to Winter. “Nostalgic and retro products can give people a good feeling, fantasizing about ‘the good old days,’ and they also offer a feeling of safety in uncertain times.”
The taste of local and regional fruits and vegetables always has a place in market trends. “Apple, for example, has a healthy image. People know it and like it, and it is one of the most popular fruits and well-known flavors. An apple is ‘at home’ in every part of the world,” Winter muses. “There are so many varieties from sweet to slightly sour or tart, apple blossom, apple pie, and so on, meaning there are many possibilities for F&B producers.”
Meanwhile, claims around organic foods or ingredients, create a sense of quality and trust for consumers, asserts Winter. “Regionally produced food might be more appealing as consumers want to support local businesses and economies, or they might even have a relationship with the producer,” she continues.
When the coronavirus crisis settles, Winter believes that food items that we have known before will be seen and evaluated differently by consumers. “We will taste more consciously because we will have become more attentive to the world and the food we eat,” she explains. “We will continue to combine good taste with indulgence and joy of life and many among us will appreciate this more than ever before,” she asserts. “Taste is and remains the most important criteria of decision when food and drinks are concerned.”
Meanwhile, authenticity and trust in products will stand out and if people can afford them, premium products will increase, says Winter. “The fact that more people are staying at home instead of going to bars and restaurants means that they still want to enjoy food and beverages at home that ignite the senses and create an appealing and overall eating experience. Moreover, if money is low, private label products from discounters will become more interesting to consumers,” she notes.
Seeking adventure and “moments of joy”
With flavorings, nearly everything is possible, says Winter. “The food industry has a chance to offer great moments through food, which can become more and more important every day when there are limited events that happen throughout the day.”
Moreover, indulgence will become necessary. “We think more about how food can give us moments of joy in everyday life – we will crave for special moments, for something extraordinary – many things we used to do are not possible or difficult and the food that we eat can make us curious or help to compensate.”
Additionally, with limited ingredients, taste and flavorings can bring the world into people’s homes. Seasonings can transform a dish when some ingredients, fruits, or spices are not available, Winter details.
On the one hand, people will purchase familiar products and ingredients, things they are used to because they feel safe, they trust the products and ultimately, they know what they get.
On the other hand, they would like to have something different, that sparks some adventure, she highlights. “It all also depends on the shopping situation – if you go to the supermarket and try to be there for as little time as possible, you may not use the time browsing, but instead buy what you came in for and not venturing for anything new,” she explains. Furthermore, when it comes to online shopping, in most cases, Winter says many purchase products they are already familiar with. This reduces the need to return as consumers will already be sure they like them or can use them.
Realities about climate change and sustainable sourcing have come to the fore time and time again, yet Esarom says the demand of consumers has always been at the core of many decision-makings.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, there have been temporary and limited availability of certain ingredients through supply chains, trade agreements and transportation, Esarom highlights. This raises the question: Is coconut water from overseas, for example, a necessity?
Winter also expects consumers to become more conscious, sustainable and even more responsible when it comes to making food choices. “If people have enough money to have the choice of what to buy, eat and drink, they will care more about responsibility and sustainability,” she reveals. “Good for me” and “good for the planet” will remain critical trends after industry moves forward following the pandemic.
Making decisions more consciously, thinking about sustainability, preferring regional products, having a “relationship” to the supply chain will all ultimately make us more responsible about waste and throwing things away, Winter asserts.
“If we can not afford everything we want, we have to be careful about spending money, we will also try and avoid wasting food and we will try to get the most and the best out of everything we have,” she states.
Product safety is also an important topic, enthuses Winter. “To give safety, we need transparency – where does it come from, how was it produced, who is standing behind it, and so on,” she explains.
This is also interlinked with Innova Market Insights Top Trend for 2020: “Storytelling,” which flags an increased focus on ingredient provenance and brand storytelling platforms to emphasize the taste and quality of products, as well as sustainability efforts. Provenance platforms can communicate a whole range of messages to the consumer, including taste, processing methods, cultural and traditional backgrounds, as well as the more obvious geographical origin.
By Elizabeth Green