Consumer appeal: Ethnic and street flavors trending in culinary preferences, soups and sauces gaining momentum

Consumer appeal: Ethnic and street flavors trending in culinary preferences, soups and sauces gaining momentum

21 Aug 2018 --- Culinary trends have evolved dramatically. With the plant-based trend still going strong, consumers are looking for innovative ways to take the benefits of plants into their daily lives and innovation that relies on decadent flavor application, from desserts to alcohol or flavors that evoke indulgence, will also continue to grow and remain paramount to the needs of today's modern consumer. As a result, manufacturers are creating an abundance of flavorful and healthy options. Consumer preferences are somewhat shifting and opportunities for a more adventurous blend of flavors are emerging. Today’s connected world creates an opportunity for new ethnic flavors, street food inspired meals and the revival of culinary classics.

Innova Market Insights has reported an average annual growth of 20 percent in food and beverage launches with global flavors (Global, 2013-2017), with growth in platforms such as chili, herb and floral flavors. 

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Food truck and street food flavors have
been a source of inspiration for NPD.

In 2017, 23 percent of the new product launches tracked with an ethnic flavor were private label brands relative to 19 percent in 2013. NPD based on world flavor ranges have become increasingly popular, especially for the snacks and ready meals sectors. 

Food truck and street-food flavors have been a source of inspiration for NPD for retail, according to Innova Market Insights. According to recent data, there has also been a 24 percent growth in food & beverage launches with a food truck or street-food claim (Global, 2017 vs. 2016).

There has also been a revival of classic flavors and cuisines, which are being reworked from comfort food to restaurant quality dishes. More consumers also are choosing to recreate dishes from around the world in the comfort of their own home. 

One area that is seeing an abundance of NPD is the soups & sauces category. Consumers desire the convenience of ready-to-eat sauces and soups packed with a diverse range of flavor origins. Within this context, ethnic flavors will continue to top of the agenda. Although classic recipes lead the market, there is also an increased demand for premium and convenient products across the globe.

Five key trends driving innovation within the soups & sauces space are:

  • Fermented Opportunity: Consumers are increasingly aware of the processing their foods endure to make it to the table. Techniques perceived as being more “natural,” such as fermentation, help to provide reassurance.
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    Mother In Laws Sesame Gochujang
    Fermented Chile Sauce (US)
    Fruity Bittersweet Flavors: In the middle of sour and bitter flavors, fruit notes emerge bringing a lightly sweet flavor twist to soups and sauces. 
  • Lighter Enjoyment: As public concern for sugar and salt intake increases, manufacturers are answering with lighter versions of traditional products. 
  • Spices Give a Flavor Twist: Manufacturers are paying more attention to the authenticity of their recipes. Experimentation with spicy flavors provides this authentic flavor touch to the products.
  • Feels like Homemade: Tradition is the backbone driving soups and sauces as homemade claims on pack continue to rise. These products bring family meal flavors back to the table.

Innovation is key to maintaining the interest of consumers. For example, 67 percent of Japanese consumers increased their consumption of table and cooking sauces because there is more variety and novelty available in the market, according to Innova Market Insights. The market researcher has reported a 12 percent average annual growth of soups launches with an ethnic and exotic claim (CAGR, 2013-2017).

Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report also highlights the need for accessibility, authenticity and transparency as consumers explore ethnic menu items. The company recently revealed that 32 percent of consumers are willing to pay extra for authentic ethnic fair, 44 percent always prefer completely authentic fare, while 23 percent say their preference changes based on the cuisine and 36 percent like to explore regional varieties of mainstream ethnic cuisines to try new foods and flavors. 

This trend is pushing operators and suppliers to add new, exciting ethnic varieties on menus, but they must also be mindful of consumer preferences and demands when doing so. Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report finds that consumers want to be informed about ethnic options to ensure that their expectations of authenticity – a term that changes meaning per person – are met. 

“Everyone’s definition of authentic is different, so when it comes to ethnic fare, it’s vital to clarify the flavor profile and ingredients upfront, so consumers aren’t surprised or disappointed in their order,” Kelly Weikel, Director of Consumer Insights at Technomic, explains. “Additionally, ethnic options must feel accessible rather than intimidating and this can be achieved through providing flavor and sourcing information about each ethnic dish.”

African and Middle Eastern flavors are also predicted to have a bright future as they offer fresh, wholesome, healthy, rich and aromatic notes. Herbs and spices are the stars of the show and they are often used in local delicacies such as cheese, fruits and coffee.

FoodIngredientsFirst recently published its Top Ten Trends for African and Middle Eastern flavors which can be viewed here.

Meanwhile, with the hype around the soccer World Cup this summer, flavors and cuisines from the hosting country were under the spotlight. Russian cuisine is a diverse collection of different cooking traditions and includes soups, salads, pickled foods, meat and fish dishes, stews, and dumplings. On the innovation side, suppliers have been capitalizing on the interest in Russian flavors and cuisines. You can view more on this here

Earlier this month, Schwartz launched a new Street Food Seasonings range in response to the growing consumer trend for world foods. The UK, in particular, has seen a rise in popularity of street-food markets, where consumers enjoy on-the-go, versatile and authentic world flavors. Matched with their audience’s desires to recreate recipes from scratch at home, this new series of seasonings is the perfect fix for adventurous millennials seeking quick, easy and tasty meal ideas, according to Swartz. 

Nic Yates, UK Head of Marketing at Schwartz tells FoodIngredientsFirst: “Our Flavour Forecast for 2018 identifies a number of potential future trends – we anticipate that we will see a movement towards East African, Japanese Izakaya and Venezuelan cuisine, amongst others,” Yates reveals. 

“Ingredients such yuzu citrus, furikake (seaweed and sesame based seasoning) and sansho pepper are already appearing on menus which means it’s only a matter of time before people will want to use them in their homes,” he concludes.

By Elizabeth Green

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