So far, several companies this year have predicted what they think will be the most popular flavours and colours in bakery and confectionery: ADM identified four trends it believed would be most popular with personal health figuring among them, and market research company FMCG Gurus revealed insight into consumer preference for new and unusual flavours and colours.
Throwing their figurative hat into the ring, privately-owned taste and fragrance company Firmenich has announced their 2023 Flavor of the Year as dragon fruit, in a celebration of consumer desire for exciting new ingredients and bold flavour creation.
“This marks our 11th Flavor of the Year, which is something our customers have come to look forward to each year. Dragon fruit’s bold vibrancy is a perfect choice as we embark an exciting year of change,” said Maurizio Clementi, ad interim President, Firmenich’s Taste & Beyond division. “Our in-depth ghuman insights have identified the strong shift towards wellbeing and sustainability in people’s food and beverage choices, as well as newly-emerging elevated expectations in terms of taste… Everything we do is rooted in nature and deep consumer understanding.”
“Dragon fruit’s subtle flavor creates a wonderful opportunity to bring the exceptional creativity and expertise of Firmenich’s Flavorists to the fore, providing the perfect canvas for them to dare to imagine bold, exciting and delicious new taste combinations,” added Jeff Schmoyer, Global Head of Human Insights at Firmenich.
As part of its human insights capability, the company’s forecasting team identified a post-pandemic rise in dragon fruit in every major city in the world, showing up across diverse markets and food service venues as well as product applications.
According to Mikel Cirkus, this is part of a decade-long trend for boldness and discovery in food and drink, as the pandemic increased the pace of this trend.
New product innovation has followed with on-pack claims such as bold and exotic rising by 38% since 2017, and the use of three- and four-way flavour combinations in products rising above 25% of all food and beverage launches.
Firmenich’s consumer research shows that consumers are excited about dragon fruit and in a survey of 18,000 plus consumers across eight countries in the world, 88% of consumers have heard of dragon fruit and 56% have tested it. With regards to consumer perceptions, dragon fruit is associated with adjectives like bold, exciting, impressive and fun.
“Dragon fruit may be still a ‘rare’ fruit flavour for consumer packaged goods (CPG) food & beverage brands, but it is no longer rare to consumers,” explained Jeff Schmoyer. “And in fact, this has translated to one of the fastest growth rates of any ingredient we’ve tracked in recent years. Given the small base and fast growth, it is certainly our boldest Flavor of the Year choice yet from a predictive foresights perspective. It’s possible that the initial lag in new product innovation is in part related to the challenge of realising the flavour of dragon fruit.”
In bakery, dragon fruit can be used as a food colouring, as in Vietnam pink bread was created as a means of selling unsold dragon fruit in the wake of the pandemic.
“For this reason, Firmenich believes that its flavour creativity will play a key role in amplifying the taste and celebrating combinations of dragon fruit with other flavours,” Mr Schmoyer concluded.
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