Last Updated on November 26, 2020 by Novotaste
Flavor trends are evolving alongside consumer behavior patterns. As people continue to focus on holistic health and wellness, they are gravitating toward flavors that signal health and seek familiar, nostalgic flavors for a sense of comfort. ADM expects to see trending foods and beverages to feature bold citrus flavors and new exotic tastes with warm undertones for the coming year.
According to Hélène Moeller, global product management for Human Nutrition at ADM, the unprecedented events of 2020 have significantly affected consumer behavior, as well as the flavor industry as a whole.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst during Fi Europe Connect, which is ongoing virtually this week, Moeller says many consumers are drawn to flavors which have a “health halo.”
“This includes citrus fruits with naturally occurring vitamin C, which are also associated with immune function support. Refreshing citrus flavors can also signal feelings of happiness, mental clarity and increased energy,” she says.
With health and wellness at the forefront of consumer behaviors, ADM expects the demand for citrus flavors to expand. “We are the world’s largest citrus oil procurer and processor, providing a portfolio of true-to-fruit flavors including lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit and mandarin.”
Tailored to health
ADM Outside Voice research revealed that 31 percent of consumers are purchasing more items tailored for their health, and 50 percent report a preference for foods and beverages that naturally contain beneficial ingredients.
Innova Market Insights has ranked “Tailored to Fit” as a top trend for 2021, as personalized nutrition continues to be in the spotlight with consumers seeking options that fit their unique lifestyles.
An Innova Consumer Survey 2020 showed that 64 percent of global consumers had found more ways to tailor their life and products to their style, beliefs and needs.
Holistically attractive flavors
Superfoods are another opportunity to add flavor and color along with holistic health benefits, adds Moeller. As such, demand is increasing for citrus flavors and superfruits high in antioxidants.
“For example, rich red elderberry is bursting with antioxidants and turmeric is a bold yellow spice traditionally used to impart color and flavor to food and as a natural remedy.”
The hard seltzer category is on the cutting edge of flavor trends with its combinations of citrus and botanical flavors. “We also see citrus fruits included in baked goods, dairy products, sports drinks and ethnic meals,” she claims.
Balancing flavor with functionality
Home delivery kits are another potential area for more exciting and experimental flavor combinations. “Balancing flavor with functionality is key here – consumers want foods that deliver a full sensory experience, from taste to color to texture, as well as clean label positioning,” Moeller highlights.
“Additionally, warm ingredients like cinnamon and allspice will be holiday favorites. We also anticipate continuing enthusiasm for more exotic and global flavors, such as yuzu, kumquat, cardamom, ginger and curry,” she explains.
Many people choose familiar, nostalgic flavors like vanilla, caramel and mint for their association with comfort and relaxation, Moeller details.
Consumers are taking a proactive approach to nourishing their bodies and minds, and flavor will continue to support the growth of better-for-you offerings.
Classic flavor pairings
“Vanilla can be used to enhance overall taste and as a pairing with superfoods, tropical fruits and other flavors. Blackcurrant and cranberry are popular in baked snacks, with the added benefit of supporting wellness goals.”
ADM finds consumers attracted to familiar tastes like citrus, paired with a more unexpected element like botanicals and spices when exploring new flavor combinations. “For instance, lavender, coffee and chocolate blend into a delightful café mocha, and a hard seltzer might feature blood orange and hibiscus,” states Moeller.
Greater depth of flavor is achieved when combining sweet and umami tastes. For example, charcuterie boards with sweet honey and fruit, salty meats and olives, creamy, crumbly cheeses and crunchy nuts will also stand out.
“Apple pie and cheddar cheese are a classic pairing, while bittersweet and spicy combinations like dark chocolate and ginger are on the rise,” Moeller adds.
Lifestyle changes amid lockdowns
Many people have embraced new or forgotten hobbies during quarantine restrictions and are allowing themselves “permissible indulgences.”
The dramatic rise in home baking is driving vanilla sales, a key flavor in cakes, cookies and pastries.
“Comforting seasonal flavors were released even earlier this year in light of the pandemic, and demand persists for favorites like gingerbread and chocolate peppermint,” Moeller notes.
“We find consumers are also increasingly concerned with responsible sourcing and environmental sustainability. As vanilla continues to trend, and people are conscious of their impact on the environment, brands need to ensure their vanilla sourcing meets this consumer demand.”
Moreover, people want clean label products with wholesome, recognizable ingredients. Each of these trending consumer behaviors impacts the foods and beverages that will take center stage in 2021, she elaborates.
As the flexitarian trend continues to boom, Moeller anticipates increased growth in adopting plant proteins, both as alternatives to animal products or blended with other proteins for more complex yet balanced flavors and functionalities.
“The dairy space was an early leader in plant-forward beverages, from milk alternatives to coffee creamer. Opportunities for innovation lie with developing plant-based alternatives to butter, cheese, ice cream and yogurt that retain the creamy flavor and texture of these products,” she explains.
The growing adoption of “lifestyle” diets is often linked to deeper motivations such as holistic health, environmental sustainability and animal welfare. For instance, ADM research shows 65 percent of consumers want to positively impact the planet through their actions.
Wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients meet the demands and restrictions of these trending diets. “As such, pea protein can be incorporated in a variety of applications without the need for allergen labels and promoting sustainability.”
By Elizabeth Green