Flavour innovation remains vital, says new report

A new report from Innova Market Insights reveals that flavour is, on average, the most important factor in food and drink choices, as three-quarters of global consumers ‘love to discover new flavours’. The report also says that interest in novelty and variety is high, so it is not surprising that food and drink innovators continue to experiment with taste profiles and to use flavour as a valuable marketing tool.

Such is flavour’s importance in food and drink development that many of Innova’s Top 10 Trends for 2020 are having a clear bearing on its evolution. For example, more detailed flavour descriptors and an emphasis on provenance reflect the number one trend ‘Storytelling: Winning With Words’ theme, while growing diversity in the produce and botanicals used in flavourings is part of the number two trend ‘The Plant-Based Revolution’.

‘Hello Hybrids’ is another major theme, with more and more flavours crossing over into different food and drink categories. Additionally, the report says that seasonal and ‘edition’ flavours can help to invigorate brands and are a good way to trial new tastes on the public (‘Brand Unlimited’).

Generationally, Innova found that Millennials are the most adventurous in their attitudes to flavour, while Boomers are the most conventional. Gen Zs are less interested in experimenting with taste. “When asked if they like new, mixed or seasonal flavours, Gen Z agreement was generally at least 10 percentage points lower than that of Millennials,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “But there is still an element of boldness when it comes to genuine novelty, with 45% of Gen Zs agreeing that ‘the crazier the flavour, the better’, a much higher percentage than is found among the over 45s and over 55s.”

Looking ahead, flavour innovation will remain an essential part of food and drink NPD and key themes will include the diversification of authentic international flavours, further exploitation of the wider plant world, ‘permissible indulgence’ in the health and wellness areas and ongoing hybridisation. Meanwhile, sustainability and the sourcing of flavours, including the raw materials that go into making them, will also become a more prominent issue and could well impact on future consumer choice as well as industry practice.

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