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The 17 ready-to-use dry blends offer food manufacturers, foodservice companies and retailers a simple, clean label solution for creating consistent and authentic flavors inspired by some of the continent’s popular cuisines – those of modern Mexico, the Caribbean and the US Southwest.

Fresh takes on popular cuisines
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Daniel Espinoza, corporate R&D chef of OFI’s spices platform, explains how Blends of the Americas is the first in its spice blends series, but it features “several innovations right out of the gate.”

“Our flavors of modern Mexico blends, including Spicy Citrus Coast and Uniquely Yucatán, represent a fresh take on a popular cuisine. Perfect for use in a wide variety of dishes from Mexican cuisine-inspired tacos and carnitas and to use in meat marinades across cuisines, these versatile blends offer new ways to reimagine Mexican classics for the modern taste adventurer.”

The blends can help formulators add a new dimension to snacks and dips, dressings and marinades, and even desserts and beverages, says OFI.In a similar vein, OFI’s US Southwest-inspired and Caribbean spice blends bring a hit of authentic flavor to a wide range of traditional dishes and empower food producers to experiment and create innovative fusion foods, he notes.

“The 17 new blends can help formulators add a new dimension to everything from snack coatings and dips, to dressings and marinades, and even desserts and beverages.”

The launch comes at a time when 50% of US consumers are looking to try new, exciting flavors, as cited by Innova Market Insights in its Top 10 Flavor Trends for 2021.

Shaking up food applications
OFI’s chefs have formulated each blend to help food manufacturers add an “authentic spice kick” to everything from grilled meat, fish and vegetables to traditional stews, sauces, and snacks.

The range of spice blends includes Spicy Citrus Coast, a modern Mexico blend featuring a scorpion chilie kick, ground red pepper and lime; Warm Sedona Sunset, a Southwest blend that radiates sweet heat through turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and green cardamom; and Citrus Habanero Jerk, bringing a Jamaican flavor hit to foods with a blend of allspice, habanero and lime.

Alongside these applications, OFI has also developed a portfolio of seasoned recipes using the blends in collaboration with its nuts innovation team, such as Blanched Almonds with Spicy Citrus Coast.

Traveling through taste
After almost two years of lockdowns, travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders, consumers are looking for new opportunities to travel from home, flags Espinoza.

“A huge part of this is re-creating novel taste experiences consumers would normally sample on vacation, a trend that has raised the profile of meal kits and spice blends that give shoppers a taste of foreign shores.”

“Experimenting with new flavors has always been popular with chefs and committed ‘foodies,’ but the COVID-19 pandemic has truly turned every consumer into a culinary pioneer, searching for the next taste sensation,” he comments.

Bringing dishes to life. The new blends aim to help manufacturers innovate with authentic flavors in new product development.
With more people cooking at home, recreating their favorite restaurant meals, and traveling through new taste experiences, spices play a key role in making these dishes come to life.

“What’s more, US consumers are looking for healthy flavor solutions – clean label foods with immunity-boosting ingredients that taste great. And as more consumers are turning to clean label ingredient lists, spices tick every box for adding a natural depth of flavor.”

Sensory experiences, especially food, took on a heightened importance during the pandemic – and now good tasting, interesting and varied flavors are a higher priority in kitchens around the world, Espinoza highlights.

“Additionally, health and wellness are top of consumers’ minds, and ingredients rich in antioxidants, like spices, appeal to people looking for more functionality from their foods.”

Notably, the surge in plant-based eating also means consumers are looking to alternative cuisines that rely less on meat for flavor. These foods tend to have full flavors and bright colors from a rich variety of spices. Espinoza believes that some consumers have turned to food to help them experience different cultures and replace the sense of adventure they would typically get from holidays.

Flavorsome nations
Commenting on the untapped potential of country and region-specific heat, Espinoza says that OFI sees further opportunity to tap into consumer demand for more adventurous culinary experiences.

“Unfamiliar flavors – and the meanings behind them – are striking a chord with consumers post-pandemic. The result is that flavors with deep historical and cultural significance are soaring in popularity – take, for example, trending cuisines from specific African nations and regions of Mexico.”

He asserts that relatively niche yet highly prized flavor profiles like these need bold, flavorful spice blends to bring them to life. “Before attempting to tap into the considerable consumer appeal these cuisines currently command, formulators must understand their cultural associations and source high-quality ingredients that honor their origins.”

As a chef, Espinoza has dedicated himself to honoring authentic flavors and cooking techniques from around the American continent and beyond – particularly when it comes to his own Mexican American heritage. “These new spice blends do exactly that, on an unmatched scale,” he notes.

The launch comes at a time when 50% of US consumers are looking to try new, exciting flavors.The stories behind the ingredients
Informed by the latest consumer research, the spice blends are bursting with potential for experimentation and innovation, helping food producers deliver a bold flavor kick to everything from snack coatings and cooking sauces to meat rubs, marinades and dips.

“And what’s more, we genuinely understand the stories behind the ingredients we use thanks to our global team of culinary experts, with members hailing from across the regions,” Espinoza adds.

As a key producer of dried garlic and onions and a global supplier for chilies, pepper and tropical spices, OFI’s worldwide network and presence across origins ensures the new spice blends are sourced from the best raw ingredients all year round.

The company maintains complete oversight of growing practices, storage standards and ingredient transportation by working directly and transparently with farmer-partners, helping ensure higher-quality, sustainable spice solutions that food producers and their customers can trust, it says.

Source: Olam Food Ingredients shakes up spice blends by “reimagining” region-specific authentic flavors