SPECIAL REPORT: Flavor Winners for 2016 and Beyond

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14 Mar 2016 --- Well-traveled and highly adventurous consumers are looking for more authenticity and originality from the flavors of food and beverages that they consume, now more than ever. This could be down to the simple fact that options and choice are more readily available to consumers and their curious flavor palates are open to trying out new taste experiences. Supplier flavor portfolios are widening to cover specific flavor amalgamations and with influence from all corners of the globe.

According to Regine Lueghausen, Marketing Director Flavors EAME at IFF “you are what you eat” is reaching a new dimension, particularly for the key demographic of Millennials [aged approx. 18-35 years of age]: “As Millennials long for new experiences and view eating as self-expression, they are open to flavor experimentation and new ethnic cuisine styles. They want to be the first to try and share something new, such as unexpected flavor combinations and exotic ingredients.”
 
Innovators are going beyond and above the obvious flavor trends from previous years. They are delivering flavors that are highly specific in nature, but also those that offer an innovative experience; whether it is unusual pairings of flavors or tastes purely based on childhood memories, the industry seems to provoke an emotional connection to flavor, in terms of the experience itself.
 
This year IFF predicts that the key consumer trends for the industry to watch will be taste authenticity and clear ingredient labeling, together with health & wellness. For authenticity, IFF believes that “true” taste experiences, valuing traditional recipes and quality ingredients are crucial.
 
Many flavor manufacturers are now delivering against these needs through a continuous innovative stream of cutting edge taste solutions, giving consumers a variety of different taste experiences. Givaudan, for example, launched their Citrus Global flavor Collection last week, which highlights the authenticity of citrus fruits, a popular flavor trend and one that captures the diversity and cultural importance of citrus. Consumers have always been eager to explore the characteristics that citrus fruits have to offer.
 
FoodIngredientsFirst takes a closer look at some key flavor trends to look out for in 2016 and beyond.Click to Enlarge
 
Hot and spicy
Hot flavors are increasingly in demand, with consumers being open in new flavor varieties and blends. It’s evident that the hot and spicy trend isn’t likely to slow down.
 
This year it’s all about adding extra heat, with fresh tangy accents, and complex chili fusions. Arabian spice blends like harissa, baharat or ras el hanout are likely to be appearing more frequently on menus as they impress the tastebuds with their authentic and distinctive profiles.
 
Adding smoke to hot flavor varieties and spices is another huge trend to watch out for. Smoky sriracha and smoked pepper, for example, are natural smoke combinations that give the consumer another dimension of heat.
 
Some chili flavors have been around for some time, but now Kalsec has introduced an extension of its specialty pepper varieties, in response to consumer demands for a bolder heat. These new specialty peppers will include cayenne, pasilla and the ghost pepper extract, to name a few. Kalsec’s European Business Developer, Vince Martin believes that spice combinations are endless and various chilies have different tastes and heat delivery. “The Ancho has a typical mild heat and fruity pepper taste whereas the ghost pepper has intense heat with a slight smoke and fruity taste. It is true that the heat does detract from the subtle fruity taste of the pepper but as one adapts to heat the taste becomes more important,” he says.
 
“The beauty of the Kalsec processes is that we capture the true essence of the materials and deliver the full profile to the food,” claims Martin. “The extracts can be from cooked or fresh materials giving characteristic nuances in flavor that are consistent in every delivery.”
 
The new specialty peppers are extracted in the US, using proprietary expeller-press technology that is consumer label friendly. In addition to a complete line of specialty peppers, Kalsec offers a full range of heat management innovations including HeatSync Systems, Fusionary Heat, and ClearCap Super Soluble capsicum. Kalsec provides many clean label options that include naturally sourced spice and herb flavor extracts, colors and antioxidants.
 
Inspired by Brazil
Brazilian flavors were on the menu at the 2014 World Cup and it is likely that they will remain through the 2016 Olympics, which are taking place in Rio de Janeiro this summer.Click to Enlarge
 
Earlier this year, Frutarom launched a range of marinades and BBQ seasonings inspired by typical Brazilian dishes. These include Copacabana which is sweet and fruity and Churrasco which has a deep smoky flavor. The BBQ seasonings also capitalize on the trend for authentic food desires. “The Brazilian range capitalizes on the popularity of Brazilian cuisine,” says Mirjam van Veldhuizen, Marketing Manager at Frutarom. “This development has certainly been accelerated by the Olympic Games this year and this will be evident in an increased interest in Brazil and the Brazilian cuisine.”
 
Van Veldhuizen adds: “It is essential that seasonal products such as marinades match the current flavor trends in order to be successful. With our marinades and seasonings, we cover several trends, which show that we are responding to consumer demands.”
 
Hugh Evans, Marketing Manager at Synergy believes that the Brazilian trend could be a prelude to a greater interest in South America as a whole. Evans says: “Indigenous Brazilian flavors, such as passion fruit, have become a key element in dishes at prestigious restaurants across the UK, passion fruit flavors are making their way onto supermarket shelves too, with new product launches including passion fruit flavored tea, soft drinks, dressings and desserts.”
 
The rise of the South American flavors has been favored by a rising number of consumers looking for a well-travelled taste, tangy taste varieties from Argentina and the likes of the hot chimichurri pepper are sure to be at the top of the menu.
 
The rise of Japanese flavors
Japanese foods and flavors have been growing in popularity for some time. The rising consumer interest in global cuisine has allowed for Japanese influence to take prominence in the flavor industry. Mike Moses, marketing manager for Nagase, explains to FoodIngredientsFirst that traditional pairings of flavors have been a vehicle to introducing Japanese flavors globally, he says: “One of the main reason wasabi became well known is because of its traditional pairing with sushi and this is now evident as the wasabi flavor has been involved with a variety of product launches such as potato chips.”
 
Yuko Kobayashi is the food ingredients marketing associate at Nagase and she believes that flavors such as matcha and hojicha have maintained popularity within Japan over the years, despite the age and gender of the consumer. Kobayashi also notes that seasons play an interesting role on what is popular: “One of the major influences that drives the popularity of these traditional flavors is their connection with the seasons, for instance ‘cherry blossom’ flavor in the spring,” Kobayashi adds, “A good comparison could be the popularity of pumpkin spice in the autumn in the US.”
 
The Japanese flavor yuzu has an unusual yet bold citrus profile and is very popular in beverages, confections and spices. Citrus is one of the most popular flavors worldwide, and yuzu has proven it has a place in the running where consumers want flavor profiles that play on favorites but with an exotic twist. Citrus notes combined with fragrant and refreshing aromas is what makes yuzu so appealing. Also coined a superfood (when) this could also play a role in its popularity: “These flavor trends are in-line with consumer demands with products that meet their demands for wellness and indulgence,” adds Moses, “Other Japanese fruits, such as persimmons, could appeal to consumers globally as well.” 
 
Kobayashi maintains that flavor is an extremely important part of product development in Japan. “Flavors can be grouped into Japanese traditional flavors, fruit and vegetable flavors, as well as western flavors,” she adds, “In Japan, flavors close to the ingredient itself are popular, as opposed to artificial-tasting flavors.”
 
Vegetarian “meat” flavors
As savory flavor trends continue to emerge throughout the food industry, Gold Coast Ingredients’ R&D Team has focused heavily on new, specialty lines of vegetarian savory flavors. The goal of this expansion is to provide consumers with precise meat and poultry flavor profiles without the use of animal proteins or animal products.Click to Enlarge
 
Vegetarian flavors benefit vegetarian consumers who want to avoid meat whether it is for personal, dietary or possibly digestion purposes, without compromising on taste. Vegetarians may not eat meat, yet the market is booming with meat substitutes made from vegetables, soy and other bases.
 
Gold Coast Ingredients are responding to the demand for vegetarian flavors for breakfast and snack products.
 
“A major benefit of our 100% vegetarian flavors is that we work directly with a rabbi to make all of our flavors kosher,” says Marketing Coordinator Megan Trent, “Pork meat products can never be kosher, but our vegetarian pork flavors give customers the capabilities to keep their products kosher certified.”
 
Gold Coast Ingredients vegetarian flavors are available for vegetarian and non- vegetarian consumers, yet are formulated for many reasons says Trent: “Another advantage of our vegetarian flavors is not having to bring actual meat products into their production plants and dealing with extra USDA regulations,” she says. “Handling and storing meat means more GMP constraints, specs, microspecs and other documentation. “Our vegetarian meat and poultry flavors help companies avoid potential issues due to meat products,” explains Trent.
 
There are a number of flavor themes which have been prevalent for years, but the demand for authenticity in particular has truly driven flavor innovation to a new level. Well-traveled Millennial consumers in particular are looking for novel flavor experiences that take them back in the country/region of inspiration. The rise in vegan and vegetarian products is also creating new demands from flavor houses, who are looking to partner on the winning products of tomorrow.
 
by Elizabeth Kenward
 

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