Firmenich has revealed its 2022 Flavor of the Year, Magical Botanical, formed by the flavor player as it responds to a transformed society’s need for enhanced well-being and creativity.
“We tapped into the creativity of Firmenich’s global flavorists to create something entirely new, inspired by the healing notions of botanicals,” says Emmanuel Butstraen, president of Firmenich’s Taste & Beyond division.
“This is our 10th Flavor of the Year, something our customers have come to look forward to.”
“To help serve the consumer-driven diet transformation with F&B products that are better for people and the planet, we aimed to develop a creation which embodies this transformation.”
This year also unveils a sensory partnership between Firmenich and global color authority Pantone. According to Firmenich, the concept of Magical Botanical draws its inspiration from the latest Pantone Color of the Year 2022 and the transformative power and magical nature of botanicals, ushering in a new era for flavor creation.
This also marks the first time Firmenich has created a new flavor by blending various natural elements for its Flavor of the Year launch.
Core botanicals and culinary herbs
The Magical Botanical flavors were designed around a core of botanical ingredients and culinary herbs of natural origin and traceable sourcing. They are also known for their healing and immunity-supporting powers, says Firmenich.
Company creators paired the ingredients with “dynamic elements of surprise and delight, transforming them into great-tasting flavors.”
The resulting flavor collection was designed to inspire new creativity in various applications across sweet goods, savory foods and beverages.
Capturing emerging themes
Firmenich and Pantone have chosen to introduce entirely new creations as the Firmenich Flavor of the Year and the Pantone Color of the Year, respectively.
“Like Pantone Very Peri, Firmenich’s Flavor of the Year aims to capture the emerging themes we’re seeing in the world around us by translating new trends and consumer emotions into positive sensory experiences,” explains Mikel Cirkus, global creative director, Taste & Beyond.
“For 2022, we have tuned in to the global transformation and heightened focus on well-being. Over the last 18 months, our collective experience of radical uncertainty has sparked a great transformation. From this, our perspectives, priorities and expectations are changing.”
Still unsure of what the altered landscape holds, people are embracing its possibilities with hope, he flags.
According to data from Innova Market Insights, botanical ingredient usage in F&B launches is diversifying across categories.
Sauces and Seasonings continues to be the top category with the highest number of botanical ingredient applications in 2020. Sports Nutrition is the fastest-growing category for botanicals with an average annual growth of +16% (Global, CAGR 2016 to 2020). Sports Nutrition is the fastest-growing category for botanicals.
“Growth in products that announce botanicals on front of pack has been exceptional, with over 1,300 launches expected this year and accelerating growth of 29% CAGR since 2017,” says Firmenich’s global head of human insights, Jeff Schmoyer.
Brands are calling out botanicals across a vast array of categories. Hot drinks, alcoholic drinks, and baked goods are the most common applications. He also explains that a substantial number of brands are talking about botanicals on pack in applications from sauces and snacks to juices, dairy, and nutritional drinks.
“However, now even confectionery and desserts are making new forays into using botanical blends as flavor and as ingredients, as a way to connect with consumers’ desire for natural, healthy transformations to their diets.”
“In sensory terms, this is driving growth in the use of flavor notes that we classify as flowery, herbal, and tea tonalities across these same categories,” adds Schmoyer.
Over the past decade, the use of combinations of flavors had been on a steady increase in launched consumer packaged goods, cresting at 45% of all launches in 2018,” he remarks.
“We’ve seen a slight slowdown in the launch of multiway blends during COVID-19 as manufacturers focused on single hero ingredients with benefits, such as Firmenich’s 2021 Flavor of the Year. However, there are clear indicators that consumers themselves have become considerably more creative at home in the kitchen and are hungry for more interesting and complex flavors outside the home as well.”