Will maple tap some of pumpkin spice's popularity?
- Maple is poised to take over as fall’s most popular flavor, according to Market Watch. The seasonal favorite flavor pumpkin spice may be leveling out — new items with the flavor are flooding the market, but sales aren’t keeping up. The number of pumpkin spice products sold online have jumped 49% year-over-year, but sales have only grown 21%.
- Conversely, maple is booming in the beverage market. It's up 85% in nonalcoholic beverages and up 14.6% in alcoholic beverages in the last year.
- Seasonal items and limited time offers are increasingly important for sales, as consumers are on the lookout for the next big thing. Dunkin Donuts has already tapped in to the trend by adding maple pecan iced coffee to its fall menu.
As kids head back to school and leaves start changing colors, food flavors are switching from summer’s light fare to fall’s comforting notes. Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Lattes officially went on sale Sept. 5, signaling an unofficial start to fall for many consumers. This year, though, pumpkin spice is getting some seasonal competition from maple.
Pumpkin spice is the clear market leader. The variety of pumpkin spice food is truly staggering. KIND created a new pumpkin spice bar, General Mills released pumpkin spice Cheerios, Lindor made pumpkin spice truffles, and the California Fruit Wine Company even produced a pumpkin spice wine. Maple hasn’t inundated the market to the same level, but it certainly has the potential to do so. On the show floor at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore last week, many startup companies offered maple beverages, snacks, syrups and confections.
Maple has seen tremendous growth in beverages. Maple water — sourced from the sap of maple trees— is having a moment, and has the potential to triple its market share by 2020. In the hard drink category, there is now maple vodka produced by Vermont Spirits. This is in addition to the plethora of maple whiskeys, produced by big brands such as Crown Royal, Jim Beam and Knob Creek.
Brands that are branching out into maple would be smart to tout its overall nutritional value, with 40 antioxidants and low calorie level for a sweetener. In addition, making a a limited-time seasonal item would add to its allure. One of the reason’s Pumpkin Spice Lattes have such a following is because there are precious few months when they can be ordered.
If marketed wisely, maple could also help pumpkin spice stay relevant. As a rising tide lifts all boats, a new interest in maple could sustain the popularity of other fall flavors.