Layering on the flavor

by Allison Gibeson
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In today’s world of convenience and cooking at home more, marinades are a way of dressing up meals to provide unique flavors at home.

Laurie Harrsen, director of consumer communications for McCormick & Co., Inc., Hunt Valley, Md., said marinades make sense for today’s consumer because they are easy, don’t require measuring, and provide instant flavor for all types of meats, seafood and vegetables.

“(Marinades) are so easy and convenient ... it’s more of a pour on the flavor and go,” Ms. Harrsen said.
Various ethnic flavors, including South American, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian and Caribbean are becoming more popular for seasonings and marinades, she said. The Lawry’s brand has flavors such as Sesame Ginger, Caribbean Jerk, Havana Garlic & Lime, Mexican Chile Lime, and Hawaiian.

Deep Foods, a Union, N.J.-based producer of Indian cuisine, makes Tikka Masala and other Indian-flavored marinades.

“Our palate is seeking bolder flavors, more interesting flavors ... our population continues to grow and be more diverse,” Ms. Harrsen said. “The younger generation is growing up on ethnic foods.”

Ms. Harrsen said consumers often will expand their palate to include more ethnic flavors. Doing so provides the opportunity to try unfamiliar flavors in combination with tastes that are familiar at restaurants. In such flavor combinations, consumers find they enjoy various ethnic tastes.

In addition, restaurants are boosting the trend of marinades in other areas as consumers often try various types of flavored foods at restaurants and then find they like a particular flavor and try making it at home, Ms. Harrsen said. A consumer may not have felt confident enough to experiment with a particular flavor at home as a method of introduction, but if the consumer has had the flavor in a restaurant they may feel more confident in trying it.

“Eating at home is continuing to explode … people want to still have those great flavors when they were eating out,” Ms. Harrsen said.

Lawry’s also has restaurant-inspired flavors such as Buffalo BBQ and Signature Steakhouse Marinade, and McCormick Grill Mates has Chipotle Pepper, Mesquite, and Tomato Garlic & Basil varieties.

Marinades help in home cooking, too, Ms. Harrsen said. She pointed to the growing trend of consumers buying less expensive cuts of meat and then using marinades to help add flavor.

Ms. Harrsen said many consumers are looking for more flavor than just a marinade. With that in mind, they may marinade a meat, then add a brush-on sauce and finally serve the entree with a relish or dipping sauce. She said the flavors used in each layer may be different but in the end complement each other.

For example, a marinade may have an Asian influence, but a consumer may add a barbeque sauce along with it. Marinades also are being used as a dipping sauce after cooking the food.

“Marinades are part of multiple flavor steps in cooking,” Ms. Harrsen said.

She said grilled fruit has been an emerging trend, and marinades are being used to flavor the fruit as well.

Another flavor trend includes incorporating flavors from cocktails into marinades and replacing vinegars and other liquids in marinades for spirits. McCormick Grill Mates has Mojito Lime and Brown Sugar Bourbon marinades and Lawry’s has a Tequila Lime marinade.

Two of the most recent marinade flavors from Lawry’s include Szechuan Sweet and Sour BBQ and Tuscan Sun-Dried Tomato. Both may be used in grilling, broiling or baking meats. McCormick also recently introduced Grill Mates products such as Brown Sugar Bourbon and Mexican Fiesta marinades as well as an Applewood Rub and a Smokehouse Maple Seasoning blend.

Looking ahead to 2011, Ms. Harrsen said McCormick is planning to emphasize alcohol-infused marinades, ethnic flavors, restaurant flavors at home and regional BBQ in its products.

“When we develop our flavors and seasoning blends we start with the consumer experience in mind, but the thinking behind ingredient development is a lot more intricate than it may seem,” said Mike Veal, vice-president of marketing for Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings, a business of ConAgra Foods, Omaha. “A processed Indian tandoori chicken strip for example not only requires a carefully balanced blend of Indian spices but also a rich grilled chicken note in the protein and a top note of char from the tandoor — all with adherence to any labeling requirements or processing concerns such as warmed notes from the microwave. We integrate flavors and seasoning blends into customized ingredients for our customers so they are able to deliver more authentic taste experiences.”

Spicetec is a supplier of flavor systems to specific customers, and its work includes topical, injection or tumble marinades and brines as well as rubs, glazes, sauces and gravies.

“Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings works with customers to develop custom marinades,” Mr. Veal said. “For authentic protein flavors we use reaction-flavor technology from real meat in our U.S.D.A.-certified flavor facility. With these quality source ingredients we can accurately pinpoint the flavors that distinguish a roasted beef from a grilled steak, for example. With these base flavors we can integrate flavors and seasoning blends to add just about any flavor experience, from Mexican carne asadas to Moroccan steak marinades.”

According to the Global New Products Database from Mintel International, Chicago, there were 1,639 new products launched in 2009 under the category of sauces and seasonings. That was down from 2,016 in 2008. So far in 2010 through Oct. 5 there were 1,778 new sauces and seasonings introduced.

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