All types of peppers remain popular, though regional chiles enable marketers to differentiate products.
The flavor shift
Research shows that ongoing multicultural changes in the U.S. and a desire for authentic recipes are expanding the condiment category with exotic flavor profiles. For Daniela Barreto, manager and chef of Brazilian-themed Estadio Grill in Chicago, it is a combination of three tropical fruits — açaí, passionfruit and guarana — that serves as a backdrop for her exotic secret “Brazinha” hot wing sauce.
“Sophisticated chile pepper and fruit combinations are quite popular,” said Jean Shieh, marketing manager for Sensient Natural Ingredients. “Consumer preferences are shifting from burning heat to medium/mild heat with interesting background flavors.”
Roger Lane, marketing manager of savory flavors for Sensient Flavors, said that increasingly those flavors are floral.
Floral flavors, such as cherry blossom and lavendar, are sprouting in sauces.
“Floral notes are beginning to trend across the sauces category,” he said. “We’ve seen their popularity grow in the beverage segment with hibiscus, cherry blossom and lavender, and all three of these flavors compliment sauces. Their subtle flavor notes are difficult to identify, but create a premium experience.”
Judson McLester, executive chef and ingredient sales manager for McIlhenny Company, agrees.
“The subtle trend is to merge overlying flavor trends with the familiar, while also providing a unique tasting experience,” he said. “Product familiarity and most of all, memorable flavor delivery are paramount considerations.”