I.F.T.16: The next big flavor trends

by Monica Watrous
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Guanabana flavored products
Products launched in the United States featuring soursop included Fage Total 0% mango-guanabana nonfat Greek yogurt and Glaceau VitaminWater Zero strawberry-guanabana enhanced water.

CHICAGO — The next salted caramel may be soursop, said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insights at Mintel, Chicago. Also known as guanabana, soursop is a tree fruit native to parts of Latin America and has a flavor that is described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with notes of sour citrus and a creaminess similar to that of coconut or banana.

Here’s why Mintel expects the flavor to expand in the United States.

Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel
Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insights at Mintel

“It’s from a country that is close by (Mexico), and from a country that is in the minds of many consumers in the U.S., which is Cuba,” Ms. Dornblaser said. “The flavor profile is very familiar to consumers. The product itself looks different, so success might come in prepared products.”

During the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition, held July 16-19 in Chicago, industry experts from Mintel and Innova Market Insights discussed emerging flavor trends.

“Why is thinking about flavor important?” Ms. Dornblaser said. “Consumers like intense experiences.”

McDonald's chocolate fries
Consumers are drawn to experiences in foods, such as McDonald’s McChocolate Potato.

Fifty-eight per cent of U.S. consumers last year said they like to try new recipes, up from 52% in 2008. Millennials in particular are open to experimentation; 35% said food should be fun to eat, compared with 21% of non-millennials. And the leading product attribute consumers said they look for in food and beverage is taste or flavor, ahead of value, health and convenience.

“Consumers are much more about collecting experiences than collecting things,” Ms. Dornblaser said. She cited examples of unexpected flavor combinations introduced in global markets, including McDonald’s McChocolate Potato, which was offered in Japan and features the fast-food chain’s french fries drizzled with two flavors of chocolate syrup.

Mintel charted the expansion of such wildly successful flavors as sriracha and salted caramel to identify what factors support the growth of an emerging flavor trend. Sriracha, for example, has demonstrated the potential to expand across geographies and product categories. The popular hot sauce has turned up in snacks, meals, spreads, beverages and bakery products in recent years. Launches this year include mustard and dry seasonings featuring the flavor.

Sriracha flavored products
Launches this year include mustard and dry seasonings featuring sriracha.

Similarly, salted caramel products continue to increase year over year since debuting in 2008. The flavor has been featured in breakfast cereals, dairy, snacks, desserts and ice cream, ready-to-drink beverages and confectionery from large and small companies alike, illustrating “this is a flavor profile that has a lot of staying power,” Ms. Dornblaser said.

As for soursop, Latin America and Asia lead the way in global product introductions. Products launched in the United States over the past couple years have included Fage Total 0% mango-guanabana nonfat Greek yogurt and Glaceau VitaminWater Zero strawberry-guanabana enhanced water, and Mintel predicts future innovation will feature the flavor in juices, sorbets and yogurts.

Salted Caramel flavored products
Salted caramel has been featured in breakfast cereals, dairy, snacks, desserts and ice cream, ready-to-drink beverages and confectionery.

“Some things to think about when identifying flavor trends are to take a look at what’s going on in other countries around world,” Ms. Dornblaser said. “If you’re formulating for the U.S. market, think about where consumers are traveling to more often or if there’s interest in that cuisine. Take a look at what’s out there and what could come to the U.S. market.”

Read on for more emerging flavor trends discussed at I.F.T.

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