Flavorchem unveils clean label flavor range as hard seltzer trend fizzes up
26 Aug 2021 --- US-based flavor and fragrance company Flavorchem is helping brands tap into the booming hard seltzer trend with a new line of clean label flavors. The launch features both singular flavors and fruity combinations that are non-GMO, kosher, vegan and allergen-free.
“Hard seltzers are so popular right now. Some liquor stores have entire aisles dedicated to them,” Niki Hernandez, R&D manager and senior flavorist at Flavorchem, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“When you walk the aisle, you see such a range of branding and flavor options. We noticed the trend and wanted to mimic this in a clean label format.”
The line includes Pomegranate, Juicy Pear, Watermelon, Honeydew Melon, Raspberry Lychee, Spiced Orange Cranberry, Tangerine Lavender and Lemon Tea.
Innova Market Insights reports that the top five flavors for Flavored Alcoholic Beverages and Hard Seltzers between October 2019 to March 2021 were fruit flavors. Refreshing lime and lemon flavors dominated NPD in this period.
Hard seltzers take off
The hard seltzer category has had an exponential growth trajectory in recent years as it continues its meteoric rise in the flavored malt beverage (FMB) space, according to Flavorchem.
The flavor company relays that hard seltzers outperformed all other FMB segments in 2020 with a recorded US$6.8 billion in sales – a 68.2 percent increase – representing 40 percent of the category’s overall dollar growth.
This rapid growth is supported by Innova Market Insights, which found flavored alcoholic beverages and hard seltzer launches took a sharp upward turn over the April 2020 to March 2021 period, accounting for 12 percent of alcoholic beverage launches. This figure is up from 6 percent in the previous 12 months.
Moreover, a recent report by Rabobank revealed that hard seltzers are seeing “massive levels” of innovation with great potential for growth in markets where they are still emerging, such as Europe and Asia-Pacific.
Hard seltzers’ rapid success in the marketplace is driven by its better-for-you image, notes Flavorchem’s marketing analyst Rebecca Shurhay.
“These beverages typically contain fewer carbs, calories and sugar, along with a cleaner label - thus attracting younger demographics who are the driving force of the ‘Mindful Drinking Movement.’”
“Millennials and Gen-Z’ers gravitate toward hard seltzer because of its associated health halo, flavor versatility and the convenience of its ready-to-drink nature. Many hard seltzer brands also have an active social media presence which presents several opportunities for fun and creative ways to stay engaged with younger drinkers and promote new launches,” she adds.
Innova Market Insights reports the most frequent claims worldwide on Flavored Alcoholic Beverages and Hard Seltzer launches include “gluten-free,” “sugar-free,” “vegan,” “low/no/reduced calorie” and “low/no/reduced carb” (October 2019 to March 20210).
Moreover, “gluten-free” was the top positioning in most markets, except for Asia, where “sugar-free” came in first.
Flavorchem’s new flavor line is also Prop 65 ingredient-free, this refers to a list of ingredients known by the state of California in the US, that are linked to cancer.
Crisp and sweet
With innovation booming in the category, there is no singular way to craft a seltzer bound for success.
“We saw two main challenges when formulating the hard seltzers; the type of alcohol and the type of sweetener used,” affirms Hernandez.
“Some alcohols were crisp and clean, which allowed the flavor to easily come through while others used more fermented, yeasty tasting alcohols.”
Moreover, consumers are divided on which sources of sweetness they prefer. ADM’s Outside Voice research reveals that 30 percent of consumers believe natural sugars are best, leaning toward natural ingredients like cane sugar, honey or fruit. Conversely, 13 percent are satisfied with most types of sweeteners and sugar.
Hernandez affirms that sweetener variation is widespread throughout the seltzers category.
“Sweetener levels [in hard seltzers] vary from no sweetener at all, to a few grams of sugar, to high-intensity sweeteners,” she describes.
“Any of these variations can be overcome by selecting the right flavor to blend all of the elements together.”
Subtrends bubbling up
What’s next for the hard seltzer movement? Shurhay pegs premium and branded seltzers as the next emerging trend.
“Spirited seltzers featuring vodka, whiskey and tequila are emerging within the hard seltzer space as brands like Jack Daniels, Bacardi and Molson Coors innovate with new product concepts.”
She also highlights that craft hard seltzers, in tune with the craft beer movement, along with variety flavor packs and seltzers containing added nutritional benefits, are other sub-trends to watch.
In one of the latest hard seltzers iterations, PepsiCo partnered with Boston Beer to create Hard Mtn Dew, a beverage with the bold, citrus flavor of Mountain Dew with an Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of 5 percent.
By Missy Green
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.