Traditional autumnal flavors will remain popular this fall, while other trends seen throughout 2019, including botanicals and citrus, will roll into the new season. As the new school term starts and Halloween, Thanksgiving and Diwali are on the horizon, a new wave of flavors comes to the fore, while the traditional tastes of fall get a modern makeover. FoodIngredientsFirst speaks to experts in the flavors field, who also highlight how consumers are continuing to seek indulgent and premium ingredients.
In the US market, today’s consumers are more advanced than ever and know more about food and beverages than at any other time in history, says Dylan Thompson, Marketing & Consumer Insight Manager at Symrise, Flavors Division North America. “That means that they are demanding products that are inherently healthy or better for you with higher-quality ingredients. When they want to indulge, they want to go all-out with premium ingredients and over-the-top concepts.”
However, he adds that modern technology has led consumers to have a shorter attention span. “They have a desire for new and novel things, delivered frequently and fast. That’s why limited-time offers (LTOs) have been reinvigorated, which fulfill the consumer desires around the anticipation and excitement surrounding new flavors.”
The start of the new school year also triggers a mental switch in US consumers, according to Laurens Reiber, Global Innovation Program Director at Re-Imagine Natural, part of International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF). This, in addition to autumnal traits of warmth, coziness and indulgence make consumers aware that we’re entering the latter half of the year and that Thanksgiving is around the corner.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Brexit is a hot topic and impacting broader consumer confidence, as well as consumption habits. “Consumers are spending more time at home cooking and consuming their own food, rather than eating in restaurants. Additionally, throughout Europe in general, we haven’t experienced a long summer heatwave, so for some, it looks and feels like autumn already,” continues Reiber.
Traditional flavors, including pumpkin spice, will continue to be an on-trend choice. Reiber notes that gingerbread, caramel, pumpkin, rosemary and cinnamon are all classic autumn tonalities. There will always be a place for classic autumn profiles as they remind us of times gone by, like moments shared with family when we were younger, he adds.
“The taste profile of pumpkin spice fits perfectly in the range of on-trend indulgence flavors. Young consumers especially love these types of flavorings,” explains Florian Buttmann, Product Management Ingredients at WFSI – ADM Nutrition. Thompson agrees, noting that pumpkin spice definitely isn’t going away and continues to reach new categories every autumn.
“We expect pumpkin spice to remain fashionable and spread to an even wider range of categories. As with most flavors, it’s all about the details, meaning that finely balanced nuances make all the difference. For example, the taste profile of pumpkin spice has a totally different sensory effect in coffee than in baked goods,” Buttmann continues.
This month, pumpkin spice even entered the canned meat category. Limited edition Spam Pumpkin Spice will be available from September 23. The product is touted as being a unique blend of the iconic “meat in a can” and seasonal spices including cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg.
The appeal of classic ingredients is driven by consumers seeking a means of escape from the hectic pace of life through an indulgent snack, according to Buttmann. Chocolate flavors are ideal for this, with other dessert flavors such as cookies and cream, strawberry cheesecake and tiramisu also proving popular. Thompson adds that other mainstream flavors like maple-cinnamon are also primed for growth.
“We are expanding our broad portfolio in the indulgence area even further with new developments. For example, new coffeehouse flavors for syrups are available in ‘caramelized pecan,’ ‘caramelized apricot’ and ‘butter toffee’ varieties. These stimulate the senses in a special way and briefly whisk consumers away to a world of indulgence,” Buttmann notes.
Classic flavors with a modern touch
Trends seen throughout the year are also entering the autumn flavor trend, with many traditional offerings being reinvigorated. Orange has long been a classic autumn flavor, but the trend is taking a deeper hold in light of the citrus-crazy summer.
Reiber notes that there is no single orange or citrus profile, with consumers seeking variation from Valencia to Yuzu. Buttmann adds that there is great potential in citrus as it is well suited to products that aim to impress consumers with natural, fruity freshness.
“There are new developments here in the nonalcoholic beverages segment, in particular, but citrus flavors can also be found in numerous other categories. Having acquired the Florida Chemical Company and the Ziegler Group, ADM now has an unparalleled citrus portfolio,” Buttmann continues.
Additionally, IFF is launching a new portfolio this autumn, which will include craft smoke and grill, hops, citrus and botanicals, such as a new sustainably produced turmeric extract.
Building on the botanical trend taking on a seasonal twist, Reiber cites pumpkin and rosemary; cinnamon and fig; vanilla chai (with cinnamon); and orange, carrot and turmeric, as key examples. “The turmeric trend in the last few years has resulted in western consumers becoming more accustomed to its earthy, dry taste profile. As a result, consumers are expecting the turmeric profile to stand out more when it’s featured as a notable flavor in food and drink products.”
Thompson agrees that turmeric will continue to be popular thanks to its connections to the natural and holistic health space. “It will likely be paired with other flavors like chai, ginger, coconut and lemon. We also see cardamom continuing to grow as more and more Indian influence is making its way into the retail food and beverage world.”
Global influences are impacting all flavor trends at the moment, including autumn and other emerging occasions. “Consumers see dishes that they want to try via social media, the internet and their favorite food shows. Those concepts and ingredients are quickly making their way to mainstream faster than ever before,” Thompson continues.
Reiber agrees, noting that traditional autumnal festivities are no longer confined to harvest, Halloween, and Thanksgiving observances. “As we continue to experience global influences, we are also seeing cultural festivities such as Oktoberfest and Diwali make an impact on culinary trends and supermarket offerings. Previously, such festivities were marketed to a specific demographic, but now they’ve become more mainstream. Examples include hops profiles used in flavored waters, snack and savory categories, and vanilla chai used in the baked goods and confectionery categories.
Other emerging occasions include “back to school” “tailgating” and “Pink October,” which will be essential in driving new flavor trends, according to Thompson. “For back to school, think about things inspired by school snacks and lunch. This includes new takes on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, twists on apple, and healthy treats. For Pink October, think pink teas like strawberry, hibiscus and rose, as well as pink lady apples, pink fudge and ruby chocolate.”
“Trending autumn profiles provide lots of opportunities to create food and drink products with more sophisticated, culinary accents because during this season, we’re naturally inclined to spend more time at home, cooking for and eating with friends and family,” concludes Reiber.
By Katherine Durrell
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