You are working on your upcoming product launches and want to know about the current flavoring trends? You wish to modify the composition of a number of ranges so they fully comply with consumer expectations?
We manufacture food flavorings, mainly sweet ones, and produce caramels used as fillings, called “specialty” caramels. Every other year, we sum up and present everything you need to know about flavoring trends and top notes for the coming years. Throughout the year, we analyze the various agri-food markets (Baking and Pastry products, biscuits, cereals, ice cream, dairy products, candy, beverages and health food) and we summarize the major points in a trendbook.
In this book you will find:
- The major forces behind consu mers’ choice of products
- Flavoring notes which meet consumer expectations
- Possible antagonisms between these forces and how to reconcile them
What are the major consumer trends and how do they show in stores?
In these times of health crisis, we found it important to have a complete overview of every major trend on the agri-food market. Some of them are deep-rooted trends, while others have emerged over the last few years and accelerated during the pandemic.
In order to synthesize, we have compiled every trend in four major categories: the search for pleasure, safety and health requirements, the quest for ethics and the need for convenience.
Search for pleasure
In our field of expertise, sweet foods, this is the prevailing trend, where it all starts. Neglecting it in favor of another trend would be a mistake. It includes Extra indulgence, Exoticism, Innovation and Premiumization. Consumers have always been in search of products providing them with moments of pleasure and escape, and even more so during hard times. It appears everything is allowed (although it actually isn't) to take them on a journey of flavors, textures with pleasing, delightful, sometimes regressive sensations. Surprise, along with innovation, originality, exotic flavors and revisiting classic recipes, are also included in this category. Finally, the selection of more noble ingredients, limited editions, co-branding and packaging are features of an overall market Premiumization that is high among consumer expectations.
Top flavoring trends associated with the search for pleasure:
- warm notes: chocolate, vanilla, caramel, toffee
- nut notes: hazelnut, pecan nut, almond, peanut butter, etc.
- biscuit and pastry notes: cheese cake, macaroon, cookie, lemon pie, etc.
- “new” fruits (lesser known fruits): yuzu, tangor, tayberry, etc.
- floral notes: elderflower, jasmine, rose, violet, hibiscus, etc.
- herbal notes: basil, rosemary, verbena, etc.
- two-taste and three-taste combinations: the association of notes adds a complex, sophisticated touch.
- butter and cream notes
Safety & health requirements
The health crisis has also had a significant impact on the need for more natural and “healthy” products. With the pandemic, preserving one’s health has been a major issue for consumers. We are more and more reluctant when it comes to controversial ingredients and we expect healthy food in order to contribute to a healthy balance. Organic food for instance, which was growing constantly but moderately, experienced a significant boom, especially in certain categories. Marketing claims such as “free from”, “low” and “with added” which are appearing in all segments are also in the same vein. Let’s be careful though and let’s not underestimate the predominance of taste, especially in sectors associated with pleasure such as ice cream, baking and pastry, beverages... Basically, consumers are looking to indulge without harming their health but they are not ready to give up pleasure entirely, hence our leitmotiv: Taste First!
Top flavoring trends associated with safety & health requirements:
- NXFs (natural X flavors). They are organic-compliant in accordance with new EU regulations from January 2022 and allow for Clean Labeling. 95% of an NXF comes from the designated product.
- Active solutions are used to naturally reduce sugar and/or fat content by 30 to 50%. They improve the Nutri-score while enhancing products’ flavor profile
- “Health & Well-being” notes to sustain vitamin-rich, antioxidant and detox ingredients and fruits (citrus fruits, acerola, blueberry, blackcurrant, aloe vera, baobab, etc.), beneficial spices and plants (turmeric, matcha tea, ginger, acai, pandan, etc.)
Quest for ethics
This corresponds to increasing consumer awareness and the search for meaning that goes along with it. The values that products and brands stand for and the efforts displayed by manufacturers have a growing impact on the act of purchase and on consumer choices which, on some segments, can be likened to a plebiscite. The selected product should not be harmful, or as little as possible, to the planet and to humanity. It should not exploit humans, animals or the earth’s resources. This is evidenced in the rise in flexitarism & veganism, in sustainable and short food supply chains and in bulk products. By attracting consumers with its values, the brand enters a deeper, more active relationship with them. Care must be taken, however, to maintain the level of taste expected by a large majority of consumers. With the exception of a minority of activists (set to increase in the years to come), the “average” consumer is not prepared to give up on indulgence. Basically, given comparable tastes, he will choose the more ethical product, for in spite of increasing awareness, taste still comes first.
Top flavoring trends associated with the quest for ethics:
- because the origin of an NXF is identified, there is control over the supply chain. Cocoa and vanilla from ethical supply chains and caramels made with local ingredients are an additional selling point high among consumer expectations. Bourbon Vanilla from Madagascar, SVI-Sustainable Vanilla Initiative, for example.
- NFs and NXFs are used to complement a number of highly acclaimed yet “sensitive” ingredients, whose supply is restricted or complex
- active solutions naturally enhance the taste of plant-based alternatives and protein-enriched products by masking unwanted off-notes
How can antagonist and sometimes contradictory consumer expectations be managed?
We haven’t mentioned the need for convenience in detail since it is not connected with our business expertise, however its existence and its positioning in relation with the quest for ethics is important. We designed this layout to illustrate the contradictions that consumers are sometimes faced with, making things more difficult for manufacturers and their suppliers. Consumers want it all: treat themselves, take care of their health, reduce meal preparation time and avoid harming the planet. But how can you reconcile extra indulgence and health, or environment and nomadism for instance?
Brands are required to innovate constantly in order to reduce or even erase the discrepancies between the various expectations. As a manufacturer of extracts and flavorings, we contribute to this virtuous approach. Our ranges of extracts, NXFs and active solutions make it possible to reconcile indulgence, health and ethics. They represent Clean-Label answers to most consumer concerns. Sugar and fat boosters, powerful, tasty NXFs, plant note extracts and masking agents are some of the many answers offered by Metarom to brands and to society concerns.
Read our case studies for each sector on Metarom.eu
Metarom France is a family-owned SME specialized in the creation, manufacturing and distribution of flavoring solutions and caramels for the agri-food industry. We will be proudly celebrating our 70 years of existence in 2023.
The executive and sole shareholder, Jean-Loïc Métayer, is also the Vice President of the SNIAA, Syndicat National des Ingrédients Aromatiques Alimentaires (National Syndicate of Food Flavoring Ingredients).