- Flavor companies are increasingly focused on functional ingredients and mixed flavor profiles for 2020 and beyond, which may signal a bright future for hemp, botanicals and cleaner labels, according to Food Ingredients First.
- Agneta Hoffmann, marketing team leader at Bell Flavors & Fragrances, told the publication these flavors can be used to limit sugar and salt content and cover up off-notes, so more of these solutions will be surfacing as a result.
- Younger consumers are driving the trend toward more natural and organic flavors because they read labels and want to know where their ingredients come from, Anu Fisher, marketing analyst at Flavorchem, told Food Ingredients First. "Manufacturers are continuing to develop more natural formulations and brands realize that consumers are willing to pay a premium if they know flavors are organic and sustainably sourced," Fisher added.
Plant-based and functional products are achieving a higher profile in the marketplace, so it makes sense that related ingredients are being introduced to accompany this trend. Some are already known to have positive health effects, such as certain spices that also lend flavor to foods, but more are expected to influence the industry in 2020 — with flavors including yerba mate, matcha and other teas.
A major source of demand for these functional products are younger consumers, including millennials and Gen Zers, who want healthier beverages made from high-quality leaves and botanicals and without artificial flavors.
Yerba mate, for example, is a traditional South American drink made from the leaves and twigs of an evergreen shrub related to holly. It is said to have the energizing effect of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and antioxidants and other nutrients that may have positive effects on the immune system and mental focus. More companies, like Clean Cause, are making beverages with this featured ingredient. More could be coming in the new year.
Along with those functional ingredients, flavor experts say botanical flavors such as hibiscus and ginger could expand beyond traditional products in Asian and African cuisine and ginger ale and ginger beer. Hibiscus may appeal to consumers looking for interesting ethnic food, and ginger has a reputation as a natural cleanser and detoxer.
Non-alcoholic, better-for-you beverages are enjoying rising popularity in the drink space, so botanical extracts are expected to rise along with them. Some of these drinks are able to use unique flavors to help reduce sugar levels in infused and other products, appealing to consumers wanting more natural and less sweet options.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that botanicals are projected to loom large again next year, since they have been building a higher profile for years. Campbell's Culinary & Baking Institute also named botanical flavors as a major trend to watch in 2018, aligning with consumer demand for natural and clean-label ingredients.
Products containing hemp flavors and extracts are also continuing to interest consumers who want a nutritional boost. More CBD items are showing up on shelves every month. CBD oil, powders and seeds are being used to infuse beverages such as iced tea. They're also being added to a wide variety of other foods, including ice cream, salads and milk.
Regine Lueghausen, Symrise's vice president for global marketing, told Food Ingredients First that hemp could "dominate the taste arena in 2020" because its flavor lends itself to snacks, baked goods and beverages. Companies, such as Socati and Bell Flavors & Fragrances, have recently rolled out ingredients in the hemp and CBD segments, potentially stimulating greater interest and access for manufacturers.
However, until the federal government decides how it plans to regulate CBD products, large U.S. food and beverage makers are likely to drag their feet or continue engaging in joint ventures with firms in Canada, where approved CBD products will start hitting the retail market this month and into January. Until then, there will still likely be a variety of plant-based, botanical and functional flavors filling U.S. shelves in 2020.