Expect to see chocolates and candies made with notes of violet, maqui berry or saffron soon. That’s according to FONA International’s 2019 Flavor Trends report.
The ingredient company highlighted a number of flavors it expects to see in 2019 (see infobox), including pink peppercorn, Tahitian vanilla, white cranberry, and jackfruit, among others.
And Sodexo echoced a lot of those flavor predictions. The company says it expects to see a lot of exotic fruits, herbs and plant-based proteins, according to Sodexo’s senior director of culinary innovation, Kevin Cecilio.
“Many of these trends bring new flavors and culinary experiences to our guests, who would not normally find yuzu or caraway flower in their local grocery stores,” Cecilio explains. “Diners want to try new dishes, especially because of the variety of food they see on social media every day. They are very aware of what they are eating and where it originates. They want to try ingredients that wouldn’t have been on their radar previously.”
FONA International Flavors to watch in 2019:
Up and coming:
- White Cranberry
- Piri Piri
- Macadamia Nut
- Blood Orange
- Tahitian Vanilla
- Maqui Berry
- Pink Peppercorn
Specifically, they predicted that exotic citrus will be popular in 2019.
“The coming year looks to bring bright citrus flavors from exotic fruits such as kumquats, pomelos, yuzu, ugli fruit, bergamot and meyer lemons. These fruits, which were often only found in specialty stores, are becoming more accessible,” Cecilio says. “For example, yuzu is an essential ingredient in ponzu sauce, and pomelo, which can be found in drinks and desserts.”
Sodexo also predicts that seeds and nuts will gain popularity. Specifically, seeds can be mixed with chocolate to make a healthy dessert. Meanwhile macadamia nuts, pecans and Brazil nuts are all trending.
Keera Perumbala, marketing associate, sweet flavors, at Sensient Flavors, says 2019 promises to be exciting as current trends continue to gain momentum and interesting new products show up in the market.
“Edgy flavors and bold colors turn ‘over the top’ into the new norm, and this is being emphasized in food and drink with attention-grabbing ingredients that create sensations and elevate the consumption experience,” Perumbala says. “This is particularly true in the sweet goods category, where candies are seeing extreme flavors, colors and experiences coming together.”
Flavor trends also are being shaped by consumers’ desire to engage with products and brands at a more intimate level. They prefer brands that support altruistic causes, like sustainable sourcing, and donating part of their proceeds, etc.
“This pursuit for transparency is extending to their food and beverage choices as well, as they are looking for cleaner ingredients in their food and even indulgences such as confectionery that support their health-focused lifestyles,” Perumbala says. “More products are created with ingredients that are traceable, and having provenance claims can be the nudge that a casual browser needs to engage with a particular product. A ‘Brazilian orange’ carries more appeal than an ‘orange.’”
Even the FDA is taking note of the natural trends. The agency recently banned seven artificial flavors typically used in ice cream and candy, including: synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine. The flavors were commonly used as imitations of natural mint, citrus and cinnamon flavors. The seventh flavor, styrene, which was delisted, is no longer used.
And what should companies do to replace those flavors? Well the FDA suggests turning to the natural sources of those flavors.
“Each of these synthetic substances has a natural counterpart in food or in natural substances used to flavor foods,” the agency says.
In fact, the FDA even said the move was specifically in response to two food additive petitions, which were signed by various advocacy groups, such as the Breast Cancer Fund, the Center for Environmental Health, and the Environmental Defense Fund, among others. The petitions showed that six of the seven flavors caused cancer in laboratory animals.
It was an especially interesting move because the FDA even said that its own research had shown that the flavors were safe when used in the small amounts seen in most food.
“While the FDA’s recent exposure assessment of these substances does not indicate that they pose a risk to public health under the conditions of their intended use, the petitioners provided evidence that these substances caused cancer in animals who were exposed to much higher doses. As such, the FDA is only revoking the listing of these six synthetic flavorings as a matter of law. The FDA has concluded that these substances are otherwise safe,” the agency says.
And the move toward natural also dovetails with another trend impacting flavors — food as medicine.
“Food as medicine is a concept well-established and practiced in the east in countries like India and China for centuries. In North America, however, this is a rapidly growing trend for the past few years, as lack of trust in big pharma is driving more people to buy into it,” Perumbala explains.
The products, which help consumers de-stress, and otherwise cope with modern life, tend to feature botanical herbs and flavors. And gummies and chocolates are specifically positioned to suggest relaxation.
There are also a number of products focused on gut health, which tend to feature flavors like turmeric, ginger and other adaptogens such as ginseng or tulsi. And, products are also taking advantage of natural energy and antioxidant sources by featuring ingredients like Guayusa, yerba mate or elderberry extracts.
“Added functionality in food and confectionery ingredients is the way brands are trying to differentiate themselves in the increasing sea of other natural options,” Perumbala says.
And Sensient is responding to these demands with its own clean label portfolio, with a line of pure plant extracts that provide flavor and function, vegan and organic flavors and ingredients.
“Some of our unique extraction processes create 100 percent pure plant extracts free from any carriers or trace solvents that can also be a natural source of caffeine, polyphenols and other functional elements that consumers are looking for,” Perumbala says.
Indeed, it seems there’s nothing flavor can’t do these days.