Chris Whiting from Synergy Flavours highlights the important thing drivers behind future flavour traits and what to look out for this yr.

The meals business is closely influenced by a spread of sources – journey, social media, international occasions, tradition, celebrities, the checklist goes on. Development-tracking know-how and processes are necessary for figuring out traits as they emerge, however how can producers work to remain a number of steps forward of shoppers to foretell what they may need subsequent?
Synergy Flavours conducts intensive analysis yearly to foretell the rising stars in flavours. Shopper shopping for habits, bloggers, meals writers and futurologists have all helped to tell analysis, which can be benchmarked with actual knowledge from product launches and international search traits. Right here, we clarify the influences that drive future flavour traits and take a look at the traits set to take the high spot in 2021.
What influences innovation?
Staying forward of the curve has all the time been the deciding issue between success and failure inside the meals business; however in right this moment’s world of social media, that is much more acute. The influence of social media and blogs on the meals business is producing a wealth of information for researchers to analyse and pull traits from. There are 377 million Instagram posts utilizing #meals and 39.5 million for #foodblogger, illustrating simply how a lot engagement there’s round meals on these platforms. Knowledge means that Millennials spend 5 days per yr taking a look at photographs of meals on Instagram, whereas 33 % of 18-24-year-olds within the UK use social media platforms to share photos of meals.1
The connection between manufacturers and shoppers has modified ceaselessly. With simpler entry to their most beloved food and drinks merchandise via social media, most of the people has extra say than ever within the path of the market. For this reason understanding them has turn into so crucial to a product’s success.

Because the begin of the worldwide pandemic, extra emphasis has been positioned on meals and drinks that may assist to spice up immunity

There are additionally different elements to think about, similar to comfort. With meals from all over the world changing into more and more accessible, many shoppers are choosing on-the-go choices which might be both able to eat or will be cooked inside minutes. These days, you don’t even must get off your couch, as meals will be delivered to your door via apps similar to Deliveroo, which has seen a serious income development of over 650 % every year since its founding in 2013.2
Along with this, producers should be aware of different challenges and pressures confronted by the meals business, such because the renewed demand for sugar-, fat- and salt-reduced choices. Lowering these elements (or eradicating them altogether) can create challenges when it comes to each style and in addition formulation – decreased fats can have an effect on the construction of merchandise like cake and biscuits, whereas lowering salt/sugar impacts the style, which is why flavourings are so necessary for sustaining the style that buyers love.
Future traits
When researching upcoming traits which might be more likely to affect the business, flavour corporations should work upwards of a yr prematurely – however we couldn’t predict a world pandemic. The meals business was one of many first to really feel its results, with supermarkets experiencing panic shopping for and eating places having to shut their doorways. Since then, issues have settled into the ‘new regular’, however client shopping for and consuming habits have modified – maybe ceaselessly – and it will influence the traits for 2021 and past. In addition to an acceleration of traits that have been already rising, we can even see new traits straight ensuing from the influence of the pandemic. The next are a few of the traits we count on to see in 2021.
1. Immunity and wellness
Because the begin of the worldwide pandemic, extra emphasis has been positioned on meals and drinks that may assist to spice up immunity. This features a rise in vitamin C and basic vitamin and mineral fortification – citrus remained probably the most sought-after fruit throughout the pandemic, as shoppers appeared to bolster their immune methods. Though shoppers are extra within the hyperlink between their weight-reduction plan and immune system, there’s nonetheless restricted (and conflicting) proof to recommend that sure meals can enhance immunity, and the final recommendation is to observe a balanced weight-reduction plan.
Intestine well being is more and more being linked with holistic well being and immunity, and gross sales of kefir merchandise soared by nearly 50 % within the 4 weeks earlier than lockdown began within the UK.3 There has been a rising development of digestive well being claims and nuanced claims in meals, versus simply stating excessive fibre. With digestive well being more and more being recognised as a key aspect of total wellbeing, this development is more likely to proceed with elevated emphasis on psychological wellbeing throughout the present disaster and for a few years to come back. Some shoppers are wanting past this and contemplating different pure sources that supply perceived well being advantages, with 72 % of shoppers additionally expressing an curiosity in vitamin merchandise that comprise ‘health-boosting’ herbs and botanicals.4
Such elements have roots in Chinese language medication, the place spices and herbs similar to turmeric have lengthy been used to deal with frequent illnesses and signs with the idea that naturally sourced merchandise would ship medicinal advantages. There is additionally a rising international curiosity in vitamin and mineral supplementation – both via capsules or food and drinks fortification.
For producers, highlighting wholesome elements in merchandise is much more necessary now than previous to 2020.
2. Holistic well being
A survey from Mintel discovered that 39 % of shoppers have eaten consolation meals to deal with stress within the final 12 months, and this has additionally been seen throughout the current instances of uncertainty. Crisps, chocolate and ice cream all registered a surge in gross sales all through Europe within the weeks following the implementation of lockdown restrictions. Nonetheless, we are able to count on shoppers to be wanting in direction of more healthy choices to enhance their total well being as issues slowly return to regular, with decreased fats and sugar choices set to overhaul treats like cookies and desserts, and plenty of shoppers wanting in direction of vitamin-rich meals to enhance their weight-reduction plan. For instance, in Asia, there was elevated gross sales of food and drinks merchandise perceived to be wholesome (similar to contemporary meals, bottled water and dairy), and a drop in gross sales of usually unhealthy choices, similar to alcohol and snacks.5
The occasions of 2020 have led folks to focus extra on their bodily and psychological well being. Excessive percentages of shoppers determine the well being of their household and mates, in addition to their very own bodily well being, as high issues, with 71 % of Britons citing their household’s well being as their high concern amid the pandemic.6 Customers are more and more searching for elements that promote psychological wellness via stress reduction, calm, sleep promotion and luxury. As such, botanicals and herbs, which have perceived wellness-boosting properties, are experiencing regular development throughout a variety of snack and beverage classes.
3. Couch browsing
In 2009, throughout the peak of the final financial disaster, there have been extra European meals and beverage product launches than there have been within the years since. Pushed by non-public label launches particularly, which noticed a 22 % rise in 2009,6 producers might be able to capitalise on the widespread journey restrictions and their knock-on impact to the tourism commerce, which may have a direct influence on many shoppers who should not in a position to journey the world for a lot of months to come back.
Candy tropical flavours (similar to salted mango, pomegranate, guava and starfruit) and cuisines similar to Japanese and Korean are more likely to profit from this shift in the best way we search tastes from abroad.
4. Fantasy and nostalgia
With such upheaval and uncertainty skilled globally all through 2020, it’s little marvel that buyers are additionally looking for some mild reduction. It began with the unicorn development in 2017, since which period there was a wave of fantasy‑impressed product launches that supply an escape from actuality. Whereas it would sound area of interest, many mainstream manufacturers are tapping into this concept of fantasy and theming product launches round something from fairies and pixies, to mermaids, dinosaurs and dragons. Starting from gin, to cupcakes, sweets, ice cream and frappuccinos, the flavours utilized in these merchandise might embrace smoky blood orange, pineapple lemonade or creamy coconut.
Nostalgia is enjoying an element too, with a keenness for nostalgic blasts-from-the-past. There was a resurgence of sweetshop and fairground-associated flavours, and this development affords producers a brand new space for innovation throughout a spread of merchandise. From the current launch of sweet-inspired ice lollies, similar to Dip-Dab and Flump, to whey protein-flavoured merchandise like Drumsticks and Love Hearts, the nostalgic affect will solely develop within the coming months as shoppers search consolation from sentimental flavours related to their childhoods.
On the forefront of innovation
The flavour business has all the time been on the forefront of innovation, however the ever-increasing client urge for food for thrilling flavours is selling an much more dynamic area through which to function. Whereas demand has elevated, so has the power to trace and anticipate sure traits. Flavour corporations are due to this fact in a powerful place to reply shortly and supply clients with the very newest in new product innovation.

Chris Whiting
Chris is a class supervisor for Synergy Flavours. A part of the Carbery Group, Synergy is a provider of flavour and style options for the meals, beverage and vitamin business. 

References
1. How COVID-19 has impacted media consumption, by technology Visible Capitalist, https://www.visualcapitalist.com/media-consumption-covid-19/
2. About us, Deliveroo, https://deliveroo.co.uk/about-us
3. Pandemic triggers elevated demand for intestine well being merchandise, The Grocer, 2nd April 2020, https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/dairy/pandemic-triggers-increased-demand-for-gut-health-products/603605.article  
4. COVID-19 will seriously change specialised vitamin, Mintel, March 2020
5. Asian client behaviour might change ceaselessly after Covid-19, Inside Retail Asia, 16 April 2020 https://insideretail.asia/2020/04/16/asian-consumer-behaviour-may-change-forever-after-covid-19/
6. Foods and drinks manufacturers can study from the 2008-09 recession, Mintel, April 2020