Consumers seeking seasonal flavors year-round

by Rebekah Schouten
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Pumpkin spice latte, seasonal flavors
Fifty-three per cent of millennials prefer seeing seasonal ingredients featured in coffee.

NEW YORK — Sixty-seven per cent of consumers enjoy being able to consume specific seasonal ingredients year-round, according to new research from Mintel.

“Seasonal food and drink ingredients present a welcome opportunity for consumers to extend that special holiday feeling or escape the dreary winter days for sunny summer flavors,” Mintel said.

Seasonal flavors create an emotional connection with consumers, Mintel said, as 27% of Americans consider seasonal flavors to be nostalgic. Thirty-nine per cent of consumers associated seasonal flavors with the word “comforting,” 39% with the “special,” 33% with “warmth,” and 30% with “happy.”

Spring appetizer, seasonal flavors
Fifty per cent of iGeneration consumers favor seasonal appetizers and small plates.

“As Americans associate seasonal flavors with being fresh, special and nostalgic, it seems consumers are less likely to connect seasonal with mass-produced items, but rather items that conjure up an image of being homemade and remind them of personal memories,” said Diana Kelter, food service analyst at Mintel. “There is an opportunity for restaurants to leverage seasonal claims in more unique ways and build off of the seasonal experience through the presentation and description of their dishes.”

When thinking about seasonal foods, 45% of Americans are most likely to consider seasonal flavors and ingredients to be fresh, and 78% consider seasonal dishes to be a treat.

Summer salad, seasonal flavors
Fifty per cent of Baby Boomers gravitate toward seasonal ingredients in salads.

Three in four consumers agree that dining out is a great way to enjoy seasonal flavors, with 70% saying they enjoy seasonal menu offerings at restaurants, Mintel said. Forty-two per cent even say they are willing to pay more for a seasonal dish when dining out.

Generations differ in where they prefer seasonal flavors and ingredients to appear. Within the baby boomer generation, 50% said they gravitate toward seasonal ingredients in salads. The iGeneration (ages 10-22) trends toward a shareable dining experience, Mintel said, as 50% of consumers in this age group said they favor seasonal appetizers and small plates.

Winter tea, seasonal flavors
Thirty-four per cent of consumers look for seasonal ingredients in tea.

Beverages are a popular segment for seasonal flavors for both millennials and the iGeneration. Forty-three per cent of American consumers prefer seeing seasonal ingredients featured in coffee drinks, Mintel said, rising to 53% of millennials and 57% of iGeneration consumers. Tea is gaining traction as a seasonal drink as well, with 34% of consumers claiming they look for seasonal ingredients in tea.

“Seasonal coffee drinks are an affordable indulgence that can add a bit of fun to an everyday routine such as the morning cup of coffee,” Ms. Kelter said. “Younger consumers are a core demographic for seasonal coffee drinks as millennials have been more exposed to third wave coffee trends, which includes more elevated offerings, artisan preparation methods and increased flavor trends.”
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