In Foods, Sour Is The New Hot

June 21, 2013

3 Min Read
In Foods, Sour Is The New Hot

WASHINGTONConsumer demand for tart, sour foods is changing the food industry as more companies capitalize on the trend by offering sour-flavored food and beverage products like Greek yogurt, salt and vinegar chips and kombucha, reported Slate.

Industrywide growth of sour foods can't be denied, not only has Greek yogurt expanded from a 1% market share in 2007 to dominating more than one-third of the entire market in 2013, but the trend is in enough demand that sour snacks are inspiring a wide variety of competing mass market pickle-flavored chips from big brand names like Lay's and Pringles.

Consumer demand for intense, bold flavors in nothing new, hot and spicy foods have been dominating the food industry for the last few years. "The growth of sour is a natural extension of America's desire for big and bold flavors," Mary Chapman, director of product innovation for the food consultancy Technomic, told Slate. "Now that hot and spicy foods are well established, people want to taste what happens when sour flavor is cranked up," she added.

The inclusion of international cuisines has enhanced the popularity of sour flavors and snack foods. Asian cuisinesparticularly Thai, have elevated the growth of sour flavors with offerings like sour dipping sauces and spicy soups kicked up notch with the addition of lime juice.

Another reason for the sour food "it factor"it's not sweet. Given the negative attention public health officials and influential food polemicists have brought to sugary foods like soda and corn syrup, the opposite end of their flavor profile is seemingly safer to many consumers. "Taking tart flavor and bringing it forward connotes that sense of 'ok, this isn't a sugar-laden product'," Kazia Jankowski, associate culinary director at Sterling-Rice Group, explained to Slate. In general, consumers perceive sour foods to be healthier, not only because of their sugar fears, but also because of the potential health benefits of the helpful bacteria involved in the fermentation that creates those tart flavors.

Moreover, fermentation itself has become a popular DIY pastime, which only further contributes to the growing market for sour flavors. With the help of social media outlets like Pinterest, pickling as become a star of its own. For example, kombucha, a mildly fizzy fermented tea has become so popular that its grown beyond its crunchy origins to being offered in mainstream convenience stores. Kimchi, a fermented cabbage, has also become increasingly popular spreading from Korean kitchens to Los Angeles taco trucks and even making its way to Michelle Obama's recipe repertoire for White House Garden Produce.

A boom in artisanal sour products is also extending the sour trend. At a recent craft beer and food festival, Savor, thrown in New York by the Brewers Association, brewers from around the country introduced a variety of tart beers and sour beer panel discussions held at the festival drew sold-out crowds. These sour beers are seeing steady market growth. Belgian Sour, for example, is the second-fastest growing style of beer, with sales up 31% in one year, according to GuestMetrics, a company that tracks restaurant and bar sales. Increased demand for sour foods and beverages in all segments of food industry indicate that sour is here to stay.

For more information on innovative, new food and beverage products visit the Image Gallery: SupplySlide Marketplace Sampling.

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