With events of 2020 making an impact on all areas of F&B, the flavor sector is expected to be no different. For the next 12 months, flavors will be making bold statements in NPD as the world recovers from the anguish of the COVID-19 pandemic. FoodIngredientsFirst speaks with key suppliers in F&B, who share their insights on the ever-evolving category.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Jeffrey Schmoyer, global head of human insights for Taste & Beyond, says that the pandemic has driven extraordinary and fundamental shifts in consumers’ F&B behaviors and attitudes, many of which are likely to stick in the future.
Turning to flavors in hard times
“COVID-19 has accelerated and created several new dimensions we are just now coming into focus which will stay for years to come,” he explains.
In line with the company’s flavor forecast for 2021, Schmoyer reveals Firemich wanted to “take a moment to honor the notion that in all of the challenges consumers faced this year, food and drink, and cooking and using natural ingredients have been one of the bright spots.”
“Families have gathered around kitchens and dinner tables, shared and supported each other through emotional moments, and used food as a source of strength and wellness,” he comments.
“So we choose ginger and yuzu as our two superheroic ingredients that particularly honor those needs and will stand the test of time in the years ahead.”
Ginger makes headway
For Kerry, ginger is also a standout flavor. Notably, the pandemic has impacted cultures worldwide, and the trend everywhere is toward comfort foods, tastes and beverages.
“We’ll see some interesting flavors, such as spicy ginger, make headway as consumers try interesting new flavors while staying close to home,” says Coralie Garcia-Perrin, global strategic marketing director for Sweet Taste at Kerry.
In the US specifically, spicy ginger as a twist on ginger is an emerging unusual taste experience to watch out for, according to Melissa Muldowney, global strategic marketing director for Savory at Kerry.
Moreover, Kerry’s research on Proactive Health identified that 39 percent of consumers associate ginger with immune support. “Product developers should take a close look at spicy ginger flavors that provide heat for their new winter beverages and foods,” adds Leigh-Anne Vaughan, global strategic marketing director, Taste, Kerry.
“Manufacturers should keep an eye on spices – masala chai, chili peppers, spicy ginger, and so on – that bring a sense of heat to the product,” she notes.
In Latin America, pistachio, ginger, gingerbread, maple, and salted caramel, among others, are emerging flavors to keep an eye on, says Roberta Viglone, marketing manager for Taste in LATAM at Kerry.
“Product developers should watch to see how consumers react to these flavors and be ready to respond quickly,” she adds.
Last week, Kerry revealed that gingerbread flavor was a clear winner in the UK and European festive beverages.
In November, FoodIngredientsFirst reported that nostalgic and comforting flavors would take center stage and lift spirits this holiday season. Key flavor players spoke about their festive insights on classic winter notes and the surprising twists expected in NPD.
According to Treatt, festive flavor trends in 2020 are influenced more by nostalgia than a novelty, as consumers look for reassuring comforts at this typically tradition-led, family-focused time of year.
Evocative, aromatic spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg will maintain a central place among festive beverages, the UK flavor supplier notes.
For example, wintery fruit flavors like spiced apple and sweet orange will continue to be seen in flavored gins and mulled wine.
While in the US, pumpkin spice flavors will remain popular in RTD coffees and chai flavorings within teas. However, both continents agree that creamy flavorings are a must at Christmas, with luxurious hot chocolates taking their place across the board.
This desire for decadent creaminess may take various forms, though, as the consumer pushes for healthier options that bring a sense of well-being play to the strengths of dairy alternatives such as oat milk.
According to SVZ, one of the key trends for 2021 will be healthy indulgence. Consumers looking for healthy alternatives are not willing to compromise on those nostalgic feelings that will give a sense of normality this year.
Fruity flavors, with their inherent natural sweetness, may not go far enough for health-conscious consumers, who are looking for vegetable alternatives to lower sugar levels while still maintaining the nostalgic feeling of the product.
Much like the rise in pumpkin-spiced food and drink in the autumn, vegetables can make a great addition to Christmassy sweet treats, including using courgette in chocolatey desserts and carrot in traditional fruitcakes, the company notes.
Positive associations with taste
In Europe specifically, consumers’ perception of good health, associated with flavor tonalities – like botanicals such as lavender and basil for sweet applications – are gaining popularity within new product launches, says Christina Matrozou, marketing manager for taste in Europe, Kerry.
“Further to this, botanicals – including rose, violet, hibiscus and lavender – are finding favor with consumers who are searching for comforting products that have wellness associations,” adds Garcia-Perrin at Kerry.
For Dominique Delfaud, marketing director for sensory and consumer research at Mane, spices and botanicals provide flavor intensity and freshness that consumers are craving.
“They also convey rich health and well-being representations in consumers’ minds,” she asserts.
Delfaud expects turmeric will still be top of the list as “an immunity-boosting favorite, along with ginger and ginseng.”
Moreover, saffron, cardamom and tonka will keep rising in 2021 as mysterious flavor icons, delivering a distinctive and luscious signature to food and beverage NPD.
“Among the fruits, one fruit from South America and Africa which will gain significant traction in developed markets is tamarind, with its sweet and sour candy-like profile,” she adds.
Immunity support is expected to play out through 2021, according to Collette Kakuk, vice president for global marketing at Layn.
“Green tea, oregano leaf, olive leaf and echinacea are among some of the key ingredients we forecast will be trending next year,” she says.
“A wide host of botanicals will serve across nearly every industry, including F&B, nutraceuticals, supplements, personal care, and also pet and animal nutrition.”
“We expect to continue to see significant demand for seaweed extract, sea buckthorn, and hemp extracts and CBD in 2021 in addition to continued high demand for stevia and monk fruit as consumers continue to demand sugar reduction,” Kakuk concludes.
By Elizabeth Green