Flavor creativity inspiring the “tastes of tomorrow”: Eastern appeal, regional spices and unusual combinations to rise
26 Oct 2022 --- In the wake of increasing consumer awareness around sustainability and nutrition, appealing food flavors are becoming ever more crucial to development. With price hikes and supply issues impacting choices, consumers can be strategic in how they choose to invest in taste. With so many offerings available, flavor manufacturers are vying for the number one spot. FoodIngredientsFirst explores the burgeoning flavors scene with insights from ADM, Silesia, Kalsec and Synergy Flavours.
Hélène Moeller, vice president, global product marketing, flavors at ADM, says the company is “acutely aware of the need to meet stringent cost constraints, which requires a different kind of flavor creativity.”
Anja Müller, communication and social media specialist at Silesia, explains that COVID-19 and the change in the geopolitical situation have contributed to a “massive shift in world markets.”
“Supply chain disruption and lack of labor for crop-dependent products continue to affect raw material sourcing. This requires more than ever the adaptation of flavors in close cooperation and consultation with our customers,” she underscores.
Shifts to purchasing power
Müller also expresses that consumer purchasing power must not be forgotten when it comes to flavor creativity. “It is precisely in this interplay that it is important to develop state-of-the-art flavors, which requires a high level of creativity.”
Flavors generate taste experiences and today have to face a wide variety of challenges, such as “economic pressure, rapidly changing market conditions and growing consumer demands for natural products,” she notes.
For ADM, consumers will still hunger for fantastic flavor experiences with little to no compromise on taste – “which is where flavor creativity can shine,” addresses Moeller.
She states that this may mean finding more efficient ways to deliver consumer-preferred flavors for existing applications or helping retailers create national brand equivalents for private-label versions of consumers’ favorite products. “We anticipate offerings, such as cola, cereal, snacks and beyond, will show market and consumer shifts as prices rise.”
Expression through taste
Consumers are on the hunt for new ways to express themselves. Moeller underscores flavor as a “key piece” to this exploration, enabling a surge of opportunity for flavor creativity across applications.
“There is an undeniable motivation for discovery. Globally, 74% of consumers express a desire to try new flavors from around the world. From transportive regional spices like adobo or za’atar to fantasy flavors like mermaid or yeti and zingy fruit-forward notes like passion fruit or calamansi. Consumers want to see bold options in store aisles and are captivated by experiential offerings.”
The thirst for new experiences in beverages, including sparkling waters, carbonated soft drinks, hard seltzers and ready-to-drink teas, can provide an easy way to do just that, she remarks.
“For instance, new colas with limited-edition, experiential profiles, such as earthy, smokey and fruity notes that hint at the feeling one gets when stargazing at a campfire continue to pop up in the marketplace,” continues Moeller.
Meanwhile, snacks and confections should also allow a bit of shopper trial-and-error. “Often consumers are delighted by an opportunity to try potato chips or snack clusters with a unique flavor profile, especially as it’s just a quick bite rather than a whole meal. From kimchi chips to ginger lemongrass jellies, snacks and confections offer a world of possibilities for intriguing flavor creation,” she adds.
Cuisines from the East can offer consumers more complex and exciting tastes. For Paola Bassi, marketing director of Europe at Synergy Flavours, this has manifested in a broad scope of geographically sensitive customer research, such as the company’s annual report for the sports nutrition industry, Flavors of the Future.
“We work with data partners to generate a longlist of flavors that fit within a region and then forecast their popularity. This year’s edition centers around East Asian flavors and predicts jasmine, lychee and Japanese melon will continue to grow going into 2023,” she comments.
“We foresee Japanese and Korean flavor profiles becoming more established globally, with some less well-known flavors such as salted egg custard making potential market impact, mirroring the indulgent salty sweetness of already sought-after flavors such as salted caramel.”
The company is also highlighting how popular media has the potential to encourage consumers to try less recognized food and drink in a short time period.
“Netflix sensation Squid Game is a prime example of popular culture impacting the F&B industry, as it led to greater awareness of, and desire to try Dalgona cookies which are central to one of the episodes. We look forward to seeing which flavors will go viral next,” Bassi reveals.
Spotlight on regional peppers
Meanwhile, Anna Cheely, chef and lead scientist at Kalsec, expects to see “a continuation of the excitement of global food combinations and regional peppers continue to be sought after.”
“Not only are customers looking to make Thai curry, but they want the bird’s eye chili, for example. They are looking to make these dishes more authentic than ever,” she adds.
This also relates to the popularity of Latin American food trends, including the Aji Amarillo pepper, which is an essential part of Peruvian cuisine.
Many additional Mexican peppers also have the potential to become well-known by the average consumer and therefore sought after, such as guajillo, pasilla and Chile de árbol. These Mexican chilies are also becoming increasingly popular based on the consumer looking for more authentic dishes in the category, according to Kalsec.
Sauces bring the flavor
Additionally, sauces and marinades are solutions that can easily upgrade a simple meal – especially in an economical way, highlights ADM.
“Consumers can mix things up in their everyday meals with sauces and premade marinades that take inspiration from global flavors and cuisines, such as citrus chili, yuzu kosho, bibimbap and bulgogi,” notes Moeller.
Meanwhile, Cheely agrees that sauces, dressings and dips are “pretty exciting right now.”
“They are such a blank canvas and can be used for multiple end applications,” she explains. “Quick-service restaurants and fast food chains can use one sauce from a dip for fries, tossed with a wing, or combined with another sauce in-house for a quick limited-time offering to attract new and existing customers.”
There is so much potential for further creativity in this category, and it’s an “open avenue for marketing to use and reuse concepts without needing to innovate an entirely new concept or prototype,” notes Cheely.
Joey Gwisdalla, a market research specialist at Kalsec, highlights some examples of flavor combinations that could come to fruition in the coming months. “These may surround the use of botanicals more in conjunction with savory flavors – consider something like a blackberry BBQ sauce or a habanero and cinnamon cocktail.”
Meanwhile, Synergy’s recent analysis of Michelin-starred dessert menus in the UK revealed how chefs are becoming more creative with their offerings, and exciting new combinations such as pear and verbena, rhubarb and basil, and rose and lychee are offering consumers a creative twist on traditional flavors.
“This shows us that consumers are looking beyond traditional flavors for more exciting variations, and combinations with herbal and floral ingredients offer one way for manufacturers to elevate their current product offering,” explains Bassi.
Moeller argues that cocktails and mocktails are “particularly fun formats for consumers to try new flavor profiles and combinations.”
“We’re especially seeing a move toward lighter and brighter notes, and cocktails are at the forefront of this shift, incorporating the earthy sweetness of ube (purple yam), vegetal carrot and uplifting mint,” she details.
Upgrading existing favorites
Moreover, provenance can also play a role in allowing manufacturers to offer a wider variety of flavors – for example, a lemon-based beverage can be elevated by formulating the product with a Sicilian or Calabrian lemon flavor solution or an intriguing chinotto to give the existing flavor an additional layer of complexity.
“Even for long-time flavor favorites such as vanilla, manufacturers can go a step further and look into the different types of vanilla available and experiment with different varieties to examine whether an Indonesian, Tahitian, Madagascan, or Mexican vanilla flavor profile is better suited to a product. This meets the market desire for fresh takes on familiar flavors,” continues Bassi.
ADM’s Moeller anticipates more combinations of decadent dark chocolate enlivened by spicy curry or floral lavender, particularly as dustings on popcorn and pretzels or in hot beverages.
“Other similar combinations may include the familiar, balsamic notes of Madagascar vanilla with tropical mango for muffins and puddings or woodsy thyme for savory sweet potatoes,” she adds.
Notably, with the colder months approaching, Silesia’s Müller says that classic winter notes combined with new flavors, such as “a classic raspberry flavor with a creamy taste.”
“Coffee flavors are also deemed as all-rounders for various applications at any time of the year,” she adds. “Further, new technologies can increase the degree of flexibility and recreate original flavors more authentically,” Müller concludes.
By Elizabeth Green
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