- Classic, natural and exotic flavors in new combinations are expected to attract consumer attention in 2019, according to ingredient suppliers interviewed by Food Ingredients First. Among those include smokeless smoke where the taste is replicated in the product but without the fire.
- Smoke-type flavors are already found in snack foods, meats and meat substitutes, seasonings, sauces, cheeses, honey and salt. Megan Byrnes, a marketing representative at Gold Coast Ingredients, told the food publication that smoke flavor will be used in dessert and beverage products.
- In addition, botanical flavors like fruits with spice, herbs and flowers will be showing up in beverages, confectionery and dairy, said Florian Buttmann, ingredients product management ingredients for Germany-based WFSI – ADM Nutrition. Younger consumers will be looking for ethnic and street foods drawn from global cuisines, predicted Carolyn Chen, flavor marketing manager at Japan's Takasago International Corp.
Byrnes said the California-based ingredients company is betting smokeless smoke-type flavors will be popular in 2019 — and they are being developed without using combustion byproducts. This means the flavors are more environmentally friendly and are acceptable for use in the European Union.
In recent years, the EU has analyzed smoke flavorings produced as alternatives to traditional wood-fire smoking. These products can be added to a variety of foods to provide a smoked flavor and also to those not traditionally smoked such as soups, sauces or confectionery, according to the European Food Safety Authority.
Bell Flavors & Fragrances has developed a number of smokeless smoke flavors, which it calls "a natural alternative to traditional liquid smoke" that can be customized, provide labeling benefits and reduce food smoking time while carrying the flavor.
The company noted that smoke flavors emerged in the late 1800s and are more commonly used now in foods such as bacon, cheeses and jerky. "Bell seeks to look beyond the norm with its smokeless smoke flavors in applications such as butter, sauces, beverages, fruits, desserts, and various other sweet and savory applications," the company said.
Consumers may be interested in products containing smokeless smoke since they convey a healthier image than products smoked with a wood fire. According to a study cited by Reuters, women who consume more smoked, grilled and barbecued meat and develop breast cancer could be more likely to die from it compared to others who don't eat as many of those foods. In addition, smoking may be the most dangerous of the three cooking methods, the study said, since routinely eating smoked beef, lamb and pork was tied to a 17% greater risk of death from all causes and 23% higher odds of dying from breast cancer.
Still, smoky flavors, whether from a wood fire or developed in a lab, are popular with many Americans. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 75% of U.S. adults own a grill or smoker, and of those, 71% use it to improve the flavor of their food. FONA International said 193 smoke-flavored products were introduced in 2016, exceeding 2015 figures.
As for flavors from botanicals and flowers, which were predicted to be a popular trend this year, their popularity shows no signs of slowing. Ginseng, turmeric and lavender made appearances in teas and other beverages, while products including hibiscus, basil, strawberry and geranium, cherry blossom, blueberry, Montmorency tart cherry and dragon fruit are anticipated this next year. As consumers look to eat healthier but without sacrificing taste, flavor will continue to be a go-to option for many food and beverage manufacturers.