Food & Beverage Perspectives
Ethnic Flavors Bolster Savory Foods, Salty Snack Sales

Bold, Ethnic Flavors Bolster Savory Foods, Salty Snack Sales

Foods featuring bold, spicy, and ethnic flavors are of particular interest to consumers seeking food adventures that eclipse the familiar and the mundane in order to take taste buds to new realms. It’s a trend that will continue into the foreseeable future, according to a new report from Packaged Facts.

Foods featuring bold, spicy, and ethnic flavors are of particular interest to consumers seeking food adventures that eclipse the familiar and the mundane in order to take taste buds to new realms. It’s a trend that will continue into the foreseeable future, according to a new report from Packaged Facts.

Consider the popularity of Sriracha, the growing ubiquity of lime flavor or the increasing presence of tomatillo in snacks and sauces. Or, look at unexpected pairings of herbs and spices, like vanilla-cardamom, or cilantro-basil, that are bolstering sauces or desserts.

“There’s an entire world of flavor adventure being explored, and it only continues to expand to new and unexpected places. Sriracha has become a household word, kimchi continues to pop up in savory and dried snacks, and hot peppers keep getting hotter and more diverse," said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.

Bolstered by consumer interest in bold, spicy, and ethnic flavors, savory foods lead the flavor additives market for consumer packaged foods. Salty snacks accounted for 61 percent of flavor sales within the savory segment, and will continue to show solid growth over the next five years. Packaged Facts data show moderate yet consistent growth for savory foods currently, and the segment as a whole is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3 percent during 2014 to 2019 to reach $163 million by 2019. Sales in salty snacks will support a CAGR of 3.3 percent during that same time period, whereas savory entrees and sides will generate a CAGR of 2.6 percent. Condiments, sauces and dressings will grow fastest on a percentage basis, with a CAGR of 3.7 percent.

But Americans still want to be healthy and are wary of foods that come with a long list of ingredients, artificial flavors and artificial additives. Herein lies a big opportunity for the food industry—transitioning food products to recognizable and natural ingredients, including natural flavors and spices/herbs. Shortening ingredient lists and substituting artificial and unrecognizable ingredients with natural or recognizable ingredients continues to be a winning strategy for many packaged food manufacturers.

But changing tastes and preferences poses a challenge for packaged food marketers. Natural ingredients and food additives often impart their own, unexpected flavors and properties to foods. Natural flavors also tend to suffer from limited shelf stability. As a result, many packaged food products recipes must be completely reformulated when transitioning to clean label. This transition continues to drive substantial scientific and market development in the flavor industry. Companies that have positioned to take advantage of the clean-label transition have fared well, and many have done extremely well, posting low to mid double-digit growth in recent years.

Interested in finding out more about how flavors are influenced by emerging global cuisines and evolving consumer preferences? Download the Food Product Design’s “Survival Guide: Flavors" Digital Issue that includes market data offering a big-picture view of flavors use, as well as consumer perception of the ingredients; current cuisine trends, including demand for authentic flavor in ethnic-inspired dishes; and a comprehensive directory of suppliers offering flavors for the food and beverage industries.

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