Flavor fusion fury intensifies
Suppliers continue to see consumer acceptance for exotic flavors as well as interesting tweaks to classic favorites.
What once was exotic is now nostalgic. And what’s now exotic, well...it’s really exotic. Lemon-lime is just way too boring for candy flavors today. Expect to find blue honeysuckle berry (a cross between a blueberry and blackberry) and pawpaw (a mango and banana cross) flavors before you know it.
While consumers might not demand these extreme flavors immediately, this is where the confectionery industry is moving towards, Sensient Flavors’ 2013 flavor trend list predicts. Moreover, these bold, flavor combinations will help confectionery companies in the long run.
“The combining of two, three or even four different flavors, to create one unique, fantasy flavor helps brands distinguish themselves from one another,” says Charles Dodson, director of global mint product management and strategy at A.M. Todd, a division of Wild Flavors.
However, like any new flavor, fusions have to be presented in a familiar fashion, one that does not turn consumers immediately away. Dodson says the best way to introduce fusion flavors to a market, specifically the North American market, is by using berry flavors as a base.
“In North America, there is focus especially on berry combinations like berry watermelon and berry tangerine,” says Dodson.
“These combinations are a great way to introduce slight changes in traditional flavor profiles and give them an added twist without scaring off consumers with too exotic names,” says Frederic Schulders, Silesia Flavors’ sales and marketing director. “As long as the strawberry and the blueberry are in the name, the consumer feels safe!”
Standing alongside fusion flavors is a relative subgroup – morphing flavors. Silesia Flavors, which established itself in fusion flavors by using its 1+1=3 fusion concept, believes shifting flavors will also become a prevalent trend in the upcoming year.
“Having a flavor change into a new one gives confectioners a very wide scope of new opportunities,” says Schulders. “Having multiple flavors to mix, and even putting them in the same package opens the confectioners’ abilities even more.”
In addition to fusion flavors, indulgent and nostalgia flavors will be at the top of the trend this year. Seventy-five percent of experts say chocolate will provide the most surprising flavor combinations, according to the National Confectioners Association’s 2009 Industry Trend Report, which forecasts trends through 2014.
“Demographics patterns have shifted and aging Baby Boomers have been replaced by a population willing to try non-traditional flavors,” says Ed McIntosh, marketing manager at Flavorchem. “They’ll try anything from mixtures like sweet and salty, to more regional flavors.”
Keeping with the trend, Bell Flavors is marketing rich, nostalgic flavors like peanut butter, hot chocolate and rhubarb for its 2013 year.
“Familiar and ‘old school’ confections are becoming even more popular as a way of relief from hectic lifestyles and difficult economic times by reminiscing on ‘the good old days’,” says Kelli Heinz, the company’s marketing communications coordinator.
Additionally, Heinz says international influences will spice up the U.S. confectionery market and add dimension to flavor development.
“Bell sees many Mediterranean flavors continuing to expand in 2013 such as honey cinnamon, fennel seed and Greek yogurt, as the health and wellness trend continues to grow,” she says. “As people are traveling more and learning about global flavors via traveling, dining, television and the internet, they are becoming familiar with exotic and bold global flavors.”
The proof is certainly there. The NCA’s Industry Trend Report states 58% of experts say international spices and ethnic flavors will have a large influence on new U.S. products.
Flavorchem is also following the trend of updating its global flavor offerings. McIntosh says that the brand has recently updated its Hispanic Flavors line to appeal to consumers in both the United States and Latin America. Horchata, guava and flan are just a few of the line’s latest offerings.
While extreme and decadent combinations are headlining the trends this year, they are not overshadowing classic confectionery flavors.
“There’s always emerging ones like mango or your berry flavors, but the classics – mint, cherry, grape, lemon, orange – those flavors are popular every year,” says Dodson.
In agreement with this statement, McIntosh says, “blends of ‘traditional’ flavors such as caramel, mint and fruits will also be making greater inroads this year.”
However, as classic flavors continue to thrive in the industry, natural flavors come back into the conversation. Consumers are increasingly concerned with what they’re eating, following the health and wellness movement across the United States They want to know what their food is made of, and manufacturers are progressively becoming more accommodating to this desire.
“Consumers are looking for ‘clean’ ingredient labels more than ever these days, and confections with a natural flavor will bring more incentive to choose a particular product over another,” Heinz says.
While there is a general agreement on the increased presence of all-natural flavors in the market, there are many who do not see a future where companies make a full transition into it.
“There is always demand for alternative approaches that deal with things like availability,” Dodson says. “And the intensity and uniqueness manufacturers want for their confections may not be available from natural flavors.”
Schulders adds, “Consumers will never compromise on taste, and some flavors simply don’t have the same impact in natural.”
So while natural is certainly in the industry to stay, unless Mother Nature can start making a fruit that tastes like a strawberry and a grape, the artificial side of the flavor market will continue making every fantastical combination consumers could possibly want. Peach guava chews anyone?