Sep 13, 2016 Category: Sensient Flavors
Sometimes the best inspiration is found in unconventional places. And what’s more unconventional—not to mention adventurous—than finding food sources from plants, roots and herbs right in your own city?
Taking the “eating local” trend to a whole new level, Sensient Flavors’ consumer insights specialists strapped on their hiking boots to forage edible goodies and inspire ideas for the annual 2016 Trends to Taste flavor predictions. Guided by a well-known and respected Chicago-based forager, the group crawled under bushes, trekked around ponds and dug in the dirt to uncover high-quality local produce—the very same items that are popping up on menus of what are arguably the hottest restaurants in the Windy City.
“We were surprised by how many wild, fresh and edible foods—from sassafras root to parsnips, wild mint, juneberries, lamb’s quarters and wild mushrooms—we were able to find right in the heart of the city,” said Sarah Diedrich, marketing associate at Sensient Flavors -North America, who is one of the consumer insights specialists responsible for predicting flavor trends for Trends to Taste. “Because of increased consumer interest in eating local, renowned restaurants are following suit. Many are using foraged food on their menus, which is affecting consumer eating behavior and preferences.”
Urban foraging has picked up momentum from trends in consumer thinking that cause people to infatuate with natural ingredients that stem directly from Mother Earth. Urban foraging produces ingredients that are unparalleled in terms of freshness and quality, which has propelled the practice to growth in a consumer market that desires fresh, quality ingredients. Modern consumers aren’t looking for ingredients that have been truck-shipped across the country; they are looking for locally produced, unmodified ingredients that grow in their immediate surroundings.
“During our initial research for the 2016 Trends to Taste flavor predictions, we began to notice a larger, overarching shift in consumer thinking,” said Lauren Williams, marketing manager at Sensient Flavors - North America. “Consumers are increasingly interested in connecting with the natural world around them and tasting it is a really engaging element of that understanding. That, combined with consumers’ adventurous palates—especially those of Millennials—made the concept of foraging for this year’s predictions a natural evolution for our annual research process.”
Ready-to-drink (RTD) teas and coffees are growing in both the retail and convenience store spaces. Tea brands have an opportunity to incorporate botanical ingredients to offer consumers an exotic flavor experience while boosting nutrition. And coffee brands have an opportunity with cold-brew, as it may very well be the craft beer of coffee. What's really brewing, however, are new flavor fusions. But the question remains, are consumers willing to venture out and try new flavor combinations, or are RTD teas and coffees limited to the basics like chocolate coffee and herbal tea?
Flavors are finding partners, but not on a romantic match-making website. Food and beverage product developers are combining them in spicy, sweet and zesty ways. Sea salt is being paired with more than just caramel. Coconut water is providing multiple benefits in juice blends. Pumpkin, citrus and cinnamon are other potential partners in flavor formulations.