Beverage trends: Spotlight on provenance flavors, hard seltzers, tropical tonalities and savory sips
29 Mar 2021 --- In time for spring, beverage innovators are shining a light on uplifting flavor profiles including the tropical tonalities of watermelon and guanabana. Italian provenance flavors are also in the spotlight, with new premium-positioned offerings inspired by Calabrian lemon, Italian blood orange and Sicilian chinotto essences.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, these formulators are also taking inspiration from consumer perceptions leaning toward savory and bitter profiles as a way to appeal to health perceptions. And among sugar reduction strategies, Cacaofruit is proving to be an ideal sweetener replacement, while adding zest to cocktails and thickness to smoothies.
Meanwhile, there continues to be a growing demand for more “adult” low- or no-alcohol soft drinks that offer the flavor complexity and sophistication of their alcoholic equivalent.
Hard seltzers surge on
Hard seltzers – attracting “virtually every player in beer,” according to a recent report by Rabobank, is pegged as a key driver within the alcohol reduction trend – with an ABV of around 4 to 5 percent, much less than that of a spirit or wine.
“We are seeing a lot of innovation in this field – from different bases being used, to exciting new flavour combinations, including cocktail profiles,” details Vicky Berry, business development manager at Synergy Flavours.
The key to flavor selection here is ensuring a light and refreshing taste that fits with the positioning of this new category, as well as incorporating interesting, “adult” profiles, that support the premium feel.
“Brands will be looking to create core flavor profiles like lemon-lime, cherry and grapefruit, as well as taking a twist on these by adding botanical notes; like geranium, lavender and rose,” Berry highlights.
Consumers are increasingly looking for a story behind their beverages, with natural cues – such as hand-picked, focus on specific regions, specifying varieties and a focus on organic. These are all key indicators that tend to be associated with more premium products, Berry notes.
“Including information about the origins of beverage ingredients, such as Seville orange or Madagascan vanilla, helps them to understand more about where the product comes from, and this transparency ultimately results in greater trust in the company and its products.”
Tropical tonalities in spring drinks
While consumers have been actively traveling through tastebuds to avoid “food fatigue” this year, Bösch Boden Spies highlights the tropical tonalities of watermelon and guanabana among interesting flavors trending in beverages this year.
“Watermelon is low in calories, consists mainly of water and is high in lycopene and beta-carotene,” says Pamela Ahrens, product manager at Bösch Boden Spies.
“It adds a very vibrant color and a smooth texture to smoothies and cold pressed juices. With its both known and exotic flavor it is the perfect ingredient for a healthy and nutritious summer drink.”
Guanabana on the other hand, is a tropical fruit that is still largely unknown in Europe. “It originates from the northern area of South America, but is cultivated throughout the tropical region of the Americas,” explains Ahrens.
“Its flesh is soft, cream-white and the flavor is on a range between pineapple and strawberry, blended into sour citrus notes. It has a very unique taste and smooth mouthfeel and brings in an exotic new flavor to customers craving for new taste experiences.”
Other low-processed or cold-pressed juices with original taste profiles, such as passionfruit, raspberry and boysenberry, are also pegged as the “winning champions” in beverages this year.
Italian provenance citrus range
Keeping in line with demand for offerings of fresh and zesty springtime flavors, Synergy has a new Italian Provenance citrus range, which taps into consumers’ need for premiumization and increased product transparency.
“Processing the highest quality fruits directly from nature using our traditional extraction techniques enables us to deliver natural and authentic citrus profiles and solutions that meet the specific application requirements of our customers,” says Berry.
“The extract range includes Calabrian lemon, Italian blood orange, Italian bergamot, Sicilian blood orange, Sicilian mandarin, Sicilian lemon and Sicilian chinotto.”
Further to the traditional lemon and lime profiles, Synergy is observing a wave of “next generation” citrus profiles, with blood orange, mandarin, pink grapefruit, yuzu and clementine all becoming more prevalent.
“We anticipate further layering of citrus flavors, with the next generation citrus profiles being combined with what could be considered ‘core’ citrus flavors – i.e., mandarin and grapefruit, pink grapefruit and lemon, yuzu and orange,” Berry forecasts.
Pea protein for functional hydration
With the “Plant-Forward” trend dominating product development, adding more clean protein to beverage portfolios is a significant benchmark.
Kerry’s ProDiem Refresh is positioned toward this goal. The pea-based ingredient is a vegan protein that delivers a clean and refreshing taste in low pH beverages including waters, juices and energy drinks.
“As a pea protein hydrolysate with optimized solubility, stability and clarity, ProDiem Refresh offers a clean taste and light texture to deliver maximum refreshment in a variety of applications,” notes Renata Ibarra, RD&A senior director of beverages at Kerry.
“Plant proteins represent a good sustainable ingredient from different angles. Kerry’s ProDiem Portfolio is aligned to our sustainability goals, making accessible formulations under our Sustainable Nutrition platform.”
Sweetening naturally with Cacaofruit
Another prevalent trend within the beverage space is the demand for more natural products and less sugary options.
Targeting these formulation criteria, Bösch Boden Spies is experimenting with Cacaofruit pulp as a natural sweetener that brings a natural thickness into beverages, like smoothies. It also adds a fruity and zesty taste, applicable for cocktails and soft drinks.
For centuries, the Cacaofruit has been valued for its seeds (beans) to produce cocoa, whereas 70 percent of the whole fruit was discarded. Today, Bösch Boden Spies has partnered with Cabosse Naturals to develop a process to extract the juice, concentrate and the pulp of this exotic fruit.
The juice and smoothie market has shown how more savory flavours, such as those from vegetables, can distance products from the negativity associated with sugar, notes Berry at Synergy.
“Combining a savory profile with a more accepted fruit is another way to help consumers accept savory as a profile within beverages,” she explains. “We see this in products like juice shots, which deliver quick doses of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.”
As an example, Berry highlights the recent Katsu smoothie launch from Wagamama, which contains a tasty combination of apple, banana, and pineapple, with a somewhat controversial addition of their signature savory Katsu Japanese curry sauce.
The beverage has been created as part of a mental health campaign with YoungMinds.
Bitter-toned beverages were also previously highlighted by Innova Market Insights as being on-trend, with flavors such as spinach, kale, celery and Brussels sprouts, increasingly in evidence across health-positioned launches.
Gins have also been particularly popular over the past few years and are still seeing further differentiation via a growing variation in flavors, colors and formats.
Resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Bösch Boden Spies has observed a strong growth in ingredients which have a positive impact on both immune health and mood. This is in line with two of Innova Market Insights’ Top Trends for 2021, “In-Tune with Immune” and “Mood: The Next Occassion.”
“Two interesting ingredients are Acerola – the ‘vitamin C world champion’ from Brazil – and Cranberry,” notes Ahrens.
“The Acerola cherry has one of the highest natural vitamin C contents of all known fruits – roughly 30 times higher than orange juice, which makes Acerola an ideal product for strengthening the immune system. And so does cranberry, with its high amount of antioxidants.”
“Through the pandemic, this well-established fruit experienced a new boost. Both fruits are quite sour, but therefore add an interesting taste to both healthy drinks and alcoholic beverages.”
By Benjamin Ferrer
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