Flavor houses are looking to Asia, Africa and Latin America for the next big snack flavors for the U.S. market, reports FoodBusinessNews.
Heat continues to be a top trend, but Asian flavors that balance the five basic tastes – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami – also are growing in popularity. Filipino-inspired food, which combines influences from Spain, China, Japan and Pacific Islands, is on the rise in the U.S., with seasonings and marinades that include soy sauce, garlic and fish sauce. Hot Asian spices like gochujang and sambal look set to emerge in the snack category, as demand for heat continues.
In addition, companies are exploring African flavors, like tamarind and piri piri, for everything from meat marinades to chips and popcorn. Emerging Latin American flavors include aji chili peppers, a Venezuelan avocado-and-chili sauce called guasacaca, and sazon, which blends achiote, cumin, oregano, coriander, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Flavor houses are always a little ahead of the game when it comes to exploring new flavors and spices for the U.S. market, but with an eye on millennials’ more adventurous tastes, snack makers are already starting to develop new ways of looking at heat, spice and exotic flavors.
Last year, PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division released a range of international flavors for its Lay’s potato chips brand that included Brazilian Picanha, Chinese Szechuan Chicken, Greek Tzatziki, and Indian Tikka Masala. Korean foods also have seen a surge in popularity in the restaurant space, and its sweet and spicy barbecue flavors are likely to translate well into snack products.
Spicy flavors have continued to do well in the past few years — moving past the nation’s love of hot sauce — as manufacturers highlight the different flavor notes of chilies and more authentic ethnic flavors.
Changing demographics are driving innovation, particularly as millennials’ purchasing power is starting to increase and as companies aim to target the large and growing Hispanic population. According to Mintel, Hispanic foods and flavors are particularly popular among younger consumers and in households with children.
With consumers looking to eat healthier, but unwilling to forgo flavor in their favorite foods, spices are an easy and often healthy way to do it. Eating turmeric each day, for example, was found to improve a gene that causes depression, asthma, eczema and cancer, according to research conducted by Dr. Michael Mosley of BBC's "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor." Earlier this week, McCormick & Company agreed to purchase Reckitt Benckiser's Food Division for $4.2 billion, adding the iconic French's mustard and Frank's RedHot brands to a portfolio comprised of its line of spices, seasoning mixes and condiments.