Botanicals breakthrough: Industry innovation

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02 Aug 2017 --- One food trend that is undeniably shaping 2017 is botanicals – how substances obtained from plants are giving a major boost to new products across multiple platforms. You can read the first part of the report here

Plants for flavor
Plant-based ingredients are also being applied for their flavorful properties. Herbs and botanicals are trending in soft drinks launches, where they function as a healthy alternative, while natural energy alternatives are being sought, with ingredients such as guarana and maca benefiting from the trend. 

There was a 36 percent hike in global soft drink products with herb flavors in 2016 compared with 2015, according to Innova Market Insights.

Further evidence that botanicals provide new flavor sensations can be seen in new product developments in the beverage space. Take the naturally sweetened The Fruit Lab Green Tea with fresh lime and mint flavor (Netherlands) or the Pure Leaf Tea House Collection Organic Black Tea with a hint of blackberry and sage (US), as just two examples.

Even soda giant Coca-Cola has created a version with ginger – known for its exotic, spicy-sweet and refreshing flavor with stomach settling benefits – for the Australian market. 

Fresh flavors from fresh produce & flowers
Synergy Flavors has just added new British Cucumber essence to its Synergy Pure range which the company claims is perfect for beverage applications because it delivers the fresh flavor of cucumber with the added benefit of a British provenance claim.

Synergy’s proprietary processing technology uses gentle, reduced heat processing and vacuum evaporation techniques so that the Synergy Pure essences retain the authentic flavor of the raw material being used. The technique effectively maximizes the ingredient’s natural sensory properties, while minimizing the degradation of healthy, naturally present nutrients.

“The market demand for all natural, clean label products is well documented and continues to grow. The demand for cucumber products is also growing, yet British stocks are dwindling. Synergy’s cucumber essence provides a consistent, reliable, natural product,” says Hugh Evans, Marketing Manager for Europe and Asia at Synergy Flavors.

“Synergy’s expert applications team has developed a number of innovative applications that showcase the new essence so that you can make British cucumber the star of your range. Mouth-watering and refreshing, they include British cucumber & mint sorbet, British cucumber and strawberry yogurt, British cucumber tzatziki dip, British cucumber gin, and British cucumber and apple flavored water,” he explains.

Flowers are more commonly associated with medicinal tea but are also finding new applications in a wide spectrum of beverages due to their exotic appeal, with hibiscus featuring in Innova’s top ten better for you beverage list. And according to Innova Market Insights data, global soft drink products with flower flavors jumped 107 percent in the 12 months between 2015 and 2016.

Botanicals in alcohol & mixers
The gin revival can partially be attributed to the natural botanical boost. All gins include juniper as an ingredient, while other botanicals used are coriander, angelica, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom, cinnamon, grains of paradise, cubeb berries and nutmeg. Typically a fine gin contains six to ten botanicals.

Martini claims 100 percent natural ingredients went into the development of its new drink, Martini Riserva Bitter which is part of the Martini Riserva Speciale range. Martini claims to have used three rare botanicals including saffron, angostura and columba for the drink to give it a unique and special taste profile. 

The alcohol mixer area is very much following the principles of adding value, premiumization and delivering more than the traditional tonic water, according to Paul Collins, Director of International Sales and Marketing at GNT. 

“In this space botanicals particularly come into play as do infusions, this is a key area for color since this will lead to a color/flavor relationship. Other ideas incorporate the “play” element where a color/flavor booster can be added by the consumer at the point of consumption and we see this as an exciting area for further development,” he explains. 

Looking ahead
Other areas to look out for moving forward that offer foods that are “in tune with my body” will include those exploiting the benefits of herbs and botanicals that are steeped in tradition in India (Ayurvedic) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (China). These are being relayed to western markets and for many, offer a more natural preventative alternative to pharmaceutical products. This trend is likely to grow as the idea of personalized nutrition and well-being gets stronger amongst Western consumers. 

By Gaynor Selby

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