As the calendar flips to the new year, firms looking to capture consumers’ interest in new healthy product launches must also keep in mind the ground truth—flavour is king. Understanding the macro trends impacting the industry, and then building flavour profiles that support consumer desires offers a path forward for formulators serving the food supplement, functional food and beverage space. Multiple firms are expanding their own traditional 2021 projections to take a holistic view.
Consider Synergy Flavours, which started by identifying five key consumer profiles that will drive trends in 2021, along with sub-trends. These include The Rebalancer, who will focus on positive nutrition, the power of veg, and cutting back; The Game Changer, who will blur the lines, seek the bright and bold, and fuel the craft movement; and The Food Philosopher, aligned with flexitarian, clean label 2.0, and allergen-free. Synergy also selected five key flavours it expects to see grow in 2021; these include Cherry Blossom, strongly trending in bakery, and Chargrilled, seen making inroads in snacks; complete details on the ‘why,’ key product categories and launches available in its free downloadable report.
Bell Flavors & Fragrances also reconstructed its Spark® platform to identify key consumer trends around behavioural values and combined them with tech innovation and market shifts. “The platform speaks to a state of escapism where we are seeing new ways flavors, fragrances and botanicals are being used by consumers to experience the exotic and the familiar from their own homes,” the firm projects.
Of note to the nutraceutical space is Bell’s “Well Balanced’ Spark trend. Inclusive of micro-trends around moods/emotion, self-care and functional ingredients, Bell noted consumers are focusing on optimising their nutrition, personal care and fitness regimes. They note: “Through a new lens of holistic health adopting a comprehensive approach to mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing consciously establishing habits and routines aimed at enriching one’s core values.”
Additional concepts from Bell cover ‘Finding Silver Linings,’ as consumers seek rewards and comfort through nostalgia; ‘Together Apart,’ exploring the way technology is facilitating opportunities for connection; and ‘Escapism,’ which speaks to imagination and multi-sensorial experiences.
Similarly, Flavorchem called out a key trend of ‘Taste Exploration,’ in its 2021 predictions, expecting that “products that offer a heightened sensory experience via adventurous taste combinations and flavor exploration will draw consumers experience cuisine fatigue while stuck at home.”
Flavorchem also went beyond the flavour realm, offering ideas on hot categories to watch, which include revamps on familiar favourites in the breakfast category; incremental growth in plant-based protein solutions; and an emphasis on upcycled ingredients, supporting consumer demands around ethical, transparent and sustainable products.
Novotaste honed in on the flavour segment in its report, with a cautionary note: “Flavour trends cannot be boxed into clear-cut, annual timeframes. … Ultimately, new flavour trends are sometimes surprising or difficult to predict.” Among the trends the firm offered included ‘Fusion/Pairing,’ which called out opportunities for both unique sensory experiences, comfortable well-established tastes, and hybrid profiles; ‘Globally-inspired, International, Ethnic,’ citing key global regions of discovery, an interest in hyper-local tastes, and cross-cultural flavours with surprising combinations; and ‘Flavour marketing,’ addressing the continued interest in mystery, limited edition, premium and even storytelling flavours.
Of particular note for the health and wellness category is Novotaste’s focus on ‘Functionality,’ which spans essential oils, extracts and botanicals, as well as added value ingredients. They state: “Balancing flavour with functionality is key here—consumers want foods that deliver a full sensory experience, from taste to color to texture, as well as clean label positioning. Consumers are taking a proactive approach to nourishing their bodies and minds, and flavor will continue to support the growth of better-for-you offerings.” Expected to see strong growth are beverages with immunity, cognitive and mood-boosting benefits; claims around essential oils; and combinations of floral, herb, and spice flavors with more familiar fruit flavors.