Less is more
When we say “less is more,” what we really mean is simple living, never stretching beyond the means and creating more value for life. Something of this sort is happening currently in the beverage sector. This term “less is more” seems to have been caught on with consumers as they now prefer less sugar, low-calorie beverages. Concern for self-health is a new normal and beverage flavour manufacturers seem to have recognized this evolving sensorial trend, but the real challenge is “less sugar” should match the sensorial properties of “full sugar” beverages.
With an increasing number of consumers now valuing health and nutrition as their top priority, this trend has hugely impacted the beverages market. But the real dilemma is that the majority of these consumers aren’t willing to compromise on their taste. So, providing taste solutions becomes a critical factor for flavour companies.
Disrupting market, pushing innovation
This disruption in trend has forced the flavour companies to push for innovation and come up with those taste solutions that can attract more consumers. Artificial sweeteners can be one of the alternatives. But the current clean label trend makes it really difficult for food manufacturers to use artificial sweeteners or additives. Natural extract with authentic mouthfeel is what consumers demand and the flavour houses strive to meet this demand.
Taste modulation is now being used to counter a few of these challenges. Natural flavours combined with flavour modulation can replace the lost sweetness due to less sugar content and provide consumers with the same “full sugar” experience. They have also been experimenting with substituting sugar with other ingredients such as pear, elderflower, coconut and dairy products. This complimentary flavour combination seems to provide the same sweetness with less sugar content. This trend has also opened up doors for complex flavours like herbal, sour and savoury flavours, which are traditionally supposed to be out of the “sweetness category.”
Most of the flavour houses have already doubled their effort to fulfil this sugar-reduction trend and have either improved their existing flavour profile or have developed new functional flavour profiles, such as sweetness enhancer or mouthfeel modifiers.
Parallel to this trend of sugar reduction in beverages, another trend gaining momentum is “better-for-you” or healthy indulgent beverages. New beverage flavours like herbs, spices, florals, and superfruits have become very popular as consumers associate them with naturalness and clean labels. Universal or traditional flavours like citrus and fruits flavours are also fast gaining momentum in the beverage sector. These flavours can be termed as the highest beneficiaries of naturalness and clean labels trends. As health and wellness are gaining huge traction, the ginger-flavoured beverages have gained popularity because of the perception of it being an immunity booster with lots of other health benefits.
The new world of floral flavours
Another emerging global trend is beverages with floral flavours. Flavour companies have already accommodated and incorporated this new surge and have introduced beverages that support sleep hygiene and mood management. Botanical flavours like rose, lavender and cardamom combined with sweet, bitter and herbal flavours are a big hit in the better-for-you category with its deepest infiltration being the beverages sector.
Turmeric on rising
The rising domains of superfood have provided a booster for various traditional as well as domestic flavours. Increased use of turmeric (because of anti-inflammatory properties and the colour it provides) in beverages and ice-creams is the most relevant example of this.
Classic citrus flavour
Traditionally, citrus has always been perceived as a classic flavour. The rising interest in light and vibrant flavours by consumers has led to an increase in citrus flavour being paired with many other usual and unusual flavours. Honey and vanilla can also be categorized as classic flavours which consumers perceive as natural.
The best source is nature
The consumers are now highly appreciative of knowing what contains in their food and prefer to read the labels before buying any product. Due to this reason, most of the brands now prefer to use known ingredients with natural flavours. Flavour houses are catering to this rising consumer preference by using consistent and cost-effective ingredients. They also have been successfully supporting the clean label trends by providing food manufacturers with simple and authentic, back-to-nature and cost-effective flavour profiles. They are focusing on making the best use of what nature has to offer by simplifying the process to preserve the natural essence.
Quality ingredients with less calorie content
As quality indulgence is on the rise, plant-based beverages and gut-enhancing probiotics are making their presence felt in the beverage industry. Consumers have now moved beyond the traditional flavours like vanilla or chocolate and now prefer more sophisticated flavours. But as the liking for classic flavours still remains, flavour companies are trying to balance this out by pairing traditional flavours with sophisticated flavours. As today’s consumers are ready to explore, the formulators strongly feel that a proper mix of nostalgic and new/bold flavours can be a huge market success. Salted caramel, cinnamon, and chocolates can be easily blended with dairy products, colas, coffee, yoghurt and energy drinks. Also, if they are able to provide flavour profiles like peanut butter, caramel, maple, chocolate, nut or marshmallow with healthy indulgence and low-calorie content in the beverages sector, then this will open up a bigger window of opportunities.
Healthy indulgence trend is here to stay and it will keep on growing as consumer awareness grows. If food and flavour manufacturers are able to provide a healthy mix of sensorial delight and guilt-free beverages, then it will mutually benefit both parties (consumers and manufacturers).
Interesting new flavours
Consumers are responding positively to international food and beverages products. Nut milk like almond, cashew, oat and coconut are becoming increasingly popular globally. New beverage flavours like turmeric, coconut, avocado, cinnamon and ginger have already seen a rise in popularity among those customers, who traditionally seemed to be hesitant to try out new flavours.
The most important factor is that today’s consumers have an emotional connection with flavours with the capability to embrace a broader variety of flavours. They just don’t want healthy products, but they also seek sensorial delight. Their concept for diet is now firmly linked to betterment in overall well being and this is only possible with transparency and innovation in ingredients from sustainable and environment-friendly resources.