KANSAS CITY — Another fall brings another flurry of pumpkin spice product launches. Will food and beverage companies ever run out of new ways to incorporate the flavor into their products? Opportunities remain to be pursued in baked foods.

“The trajectory of pumpkin spice has been impressive, growing from a niche coffee shop flavor to a seasonal pop culture staple,” said Doug Resh, director, commercial marketing for T. Hasegawa USA, Inc., Cerritos, Calif. “As pumpkin spice evolved from the cafe to the grocery store in recent years, through countless packaged food and beverage products, the flavor has become a ubiquitous representation of fall for many North Americans. Despite the steady flow of new product introductions featuring pumpkin spice, the flavor continues to gain momentum each year. In the grain-based foods category, we’re seeing increased applications for pumpkin spice in products like cereal bars, crispy rice desserts, pancake mixes and bread.”

Pumpkin spice has appeared in cereal, energy bites, bread, popcorn and more, said Jennifer Zhou, global director product marketing, flavors for Chicago-based ADM.

“We’re also seeing producers of pumpkin spice-flavored offerings extending their seasonality earlier and past the traditional holidays,” she said. “Plus, novel uses of pumpkin spice may be seen by combining it with other spices such as cayenne or turmeric, creating captivating snack crisps or biscuits.”

However, she pointed to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) showing the number of product launches with pumpkin spice/pumpkin spice flavor in North America in 2022 was the same number as 2021.

“While pumpkin spice will keep aficionados enthralled when delivered in intriguing formats, manufacturers should explore other fall or holiday-related nostalgic experiences, such as apple pie, for inspiration or to create similar affinities for consumers’ favorite baked goods in other seasons,” Ms. Zhou said.

The pumpkin spice trend is evolving and far from exhausted, said David Banks, senior director of marketing for Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Northbrook, Ill.

“Consumers crave warming spices and enjoy the feeling of knowing an upcoming holiday is on the horizon and not surprisingly, strong emotions attached to both,” he said. “Pumpkin spice will always be a mainstay, but in order for it to stay relevant and desirable season after season, creating a spice utilizing elevated, yet simple twists is a must. Limited time offerings (LTOs), especially in grain-based foods like bakery items, are seasonal trophies.”

Benjamin Stanley, senior corporate chef and manager of sweet applications for Bell Flavors & Fragrances, listed ways to get creative with pumpkin spice:

• Pumpkin 5-spice with notes of pepper and star anise

• Pumpkin chai spice with notes of black tea and cardamom

• Create smoky background notes by using smoked vanilla or chipotle pumpkin spice to add a bit of heat or evoke fall campfire flavors

• Develop a savory version by combining it with nuts and create an Egyptian pumpkin spice dukkah

• Experiment with flavor combinations like pumpkin spice and caramel, pumpkin spice and french toast, or pumpkin spice praline pecan.