Last Updated on February 16, 2021 by Novotaste
Consumers are snacking more than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic and are increasingly looking for healthier options that feature simple, all-natural ingredients.
According to Chaucer Foods, these trends are impacting the ice cream and dessert category through superfood inclusions, plant-based ingredients and authentic fruit and vegetable flavors that appeal to a more label-conscious consumer.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Cecile Gauriau, global confectionery sales manager at Chaucer Foods, says creativity and decadence will remain at the core of dessert trends in 2021.
“Consumers are becoming more adventurous with their dessert choices and are looking for new and interesting flavors, textures, colors and formats in their dessert and ice cream products,” she notes.
According to Chaucer Foods, there are three key trends influencing dessert innovation in 2021:
- Premium options feature functional, natural ingredients
Functional ingredients are gaining momentum in the ice cream category as consumers look for products focusing on holistic health and wellness. Functional ingredients bring added benefits, such as probiotics to aid digestion and fruit inclusions that deliver essential nutrients and natural sweetness.
- Product developers give old favorites a creative twist
Classic flavors and formats are still prevalent within the ice cream category, but consumers also show a growing preference for extravagant and inventive options loaded with toppings, fillings and inclusions. New colors are also taking center stage as product development teams strive to create desserts with a “wow” factor.
- Sophisticated flavors for mature palates emerge
As consumer tastes evolve and become increasingly adventurous, product developers will continue to look beyond classic flavors toward bold savory, sour and spicy notes for unique and buzzworthy flavor innovations.
Appeasing the senses
Ingredients such as Chaucer Foods’ sweet baked ingredients and freeze-dried fruits are ideal for product developers looking to deliver natural flavor, vibrant colors, authentic textures and functional benefits to ice cream and other frozen treats.
Overall, Gauriau flags a desire for indulgence. “We are seeing product developers prioritize natural ingredients in dessert formulations to meet consumer demand for healthy, yet indulgent treats,” she comments.
In the ice cream market, there is also a growing focus on the visual appeal of products. The use of colorful ingredients, such as freeze-dried fruits or sweet baked ingredients, as a garnish or inclusion is increasing as product developers strive to meet consumer demand for adventurous and healthy desserts, explains Gauriau.
For many consumers, food has been a source of comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, Chaucer Foods has seen a significant increase in ice cream consumption and frozen desserts over the past year, Gauriau confirms.
“However, though consumers are buying more desserts, they’re also seeking out healthier options,” she notes.
“A lot of the dessert and ice cream category growth has resulted from various brands expanding healthier, clean label or vegan options. Consumers are discovering that many of these healthier treats are a way for them to indulge without feeling guilty.”
Tapping into holistic health
Today, consumers are much more focused on their holistic health and wellness, but they also crave indulgent dessert products, says Gauriau.
“As a result, many new ice cream and dessert launches feature low-calorie, reduced sugar and free-from claims, as well as added functional benefits like probiotics, proteins and fiber to meet the consumer demand for guilt-free desserts.”
Gauriau has also seen a growing interest in plant-based ingredients in ice creams.
“Fruit ingredients, in particular, have seen increasing interest from consumers and product developers as a way to add color and nutrition to desserts.”
Sweet flavors at the fore
In general, new flavors inspired by global cuisines, alcoholic beverages, tea, botanicals and spices generate growing interest among consumers as they become more adventurous.
Meanwhile, product developers can leverage fruit ingredients to create these sophisticated flavor profiles in ice cream and other dessert products.
“For example, pairing strawberry and cardamom together offers consumers a sweet, classic flavor with a kick of complimentary spice,” Gauriau says.
Chaucer’s R&D team is currently expanding its sweet baked topping and inclusion options through concepts inspired by traditional and indulgent recipes such as brownies, waffles and banana bread.
“We are also looking to deliver these in vegan options for free-from dessert and bakery applications,” Gauriau maintains.
“In the frozen dessert category, our R&D team is experimenting with new blends and flavor combinations of our freeze-dried fruit and vegetable powders.”
Sweet baked ingredients and freeze-dried fruits are natural and add texture, crunch and interest for indulgent desserts. Unlike other drying methods, freeze-drying locks in an ingredient’s authentic color and flavor and preserves almost all of the nutritional value of fresh fruit.
“Also, our sweet baked ingredients are made with authentic ingredients and contain no additives or artificial preservatives. Both ingredients can be incorporated directly into ice cream or used as a decoration for crème brûlée, ice cream sandwiches, cheesecakes and more.”
“By incorporating natural and authentic inclusions like Chaucer Foods’ sweet baked ingredients and freeze-dried fruits, product developers can fulfill competing demands for more functionality and creativity in desserts,” Gauriau concludes.