There is a vast array of incredible flavours out there, but shifting through the possibilities can feel like a minefield. Here, leading global ingredients manufacturer Treatt, explores the different trends in a COVID climate, and how juice producers can use flavours to find their niche in a changing world.
The power of trends
Working in the flavour industry is a craft that requires us to be a master of many trades. From botanical science and biochemistry, to supply chain management and understanding consumer behaviour, success in the sector requires the right team and the right investment, to ensure we can meet customer demand.
Some are surprised to learn that the industry as a whole invests around 10% of its turnover into research and development (R&D). It’s a worthwhile endeavour – as a business we need to be agile, and brimming with constant creativity and innovation. Our customers trust us to be able to help them tap into the zeitgeist with flavours that deliver and will help their NPD fly.
Critical as it is, taste cannot be relied on alone to achieve success. Trends can dictate any number of product credentials. Sustainability, for example, is no longer an optional nice-to-have. A study of 20,000 consumers in five countries revealed that one in three purchase products with sustainability in mind. We anticipate this trend will continue increasing at an unprecedented pace.
Changing consumer demands around the world
Inevitably, the effect of COVID-19 will leave its mark. Health and wellness was already extremely high on consumer agenda and the pandemic has fuelled further growth.
Consumers are seeking comfort and familiarity from products and this has seen a resurgence in demand for traditional beverages. Health conscious consumers continue to seek out products with perceived health benefits such as immunity boosting, and the increased demand for citrus juices is one such example of the direct effect of this.
As consumers wise-up to the health effects and sustainability of the products they are consuming, the breadth of products and variations of flavourings becomes ever wider. This is an extremely fast-changing process, with a need to not only keep up with the trends, but also be ahead of the next big thing. Beverages battling juices for space on shelf include nitro beverages and seltzers, which can fulfil many consumer needs.
A tricky market, where consumers are forgoing juice for flavoured waters and iced coffees. Health is absolutely critical and consumers are seeking clean label beverages with natural flavourings from fruits, vegetables and herbs. Pear, lychee and lemon are the fastest growing flavours in this region.
Functional energy drinks in the US are expecting sales to reach USD32 billion by 2025 – accounting for nearly 40% of the US market. Caffeinated fruit juice is a key trend within this that we can expect to see growing over the course of the next few years, with drinks providing not only functional health benefits but also the wake-up kick from the caffeination.
Since the UK introduced the Soft Drinks Industry Levy – a tax on high sugar soft drinks – there has been an inevitable rise in the sugar-free or low-sugar beverage offerings from brands in the UK, putting pressure on naturally sugary juices, currently exempt from the legislation. This legal push marries with consumer demand for healthier beverages.
Juices can overcome these challenges by providing functional beverages which answer other needs with perceived benefits, such as immune system boosting through antioxidants or ingredients which could aid stress relief.
Caramel, melon and grape are the three big growing flavours in this market. Other key consumer drivers in this territory are good sustainability credentials and a rise in demand for vegan products.
2020 has seen a growing number of functional lines being introduced to the European market. The functional beverage market in Europe is projected to see a 6.5% growth between 2020 and 2025, a trend which has only been strengthened by the pandemic. As consumers are making more health-conscious decisions, and companies are taking measures to adapt their products to demand, this category is set to grow.
In the near future for Europe, we will see an increase in the consumption of natural flavours, allowing nutrient-dense ingredients to dominate the European market.
Keep an eye out for sugar cane, blue curacao and citron, which are leading the pack as Europe’s fastest growing flavours.
Historically a strong region for the juice market, the emerging ‘middle-class’ have recently been consuming more on-the-go RTD beverages, with coffee and energy drinks increasingly popular, as consumers seek a caffeine buzz to keep up with their busy lives. The fastest growing flavours in APAC are bubble gum, cactus and yuzu.
COVID has seen businesses adapt to new working practices, including enforcing social distancing and working with reduced labour forces. Growers and processors are navigating similarly dramatic shifts in the fresh fruit markets. Many ports have been closed and ships unable to dock, heavily impacting the global supply chain.
We have steadied our ship thanks to the strong relationships with our suppliers, and ensured an unwavering continuity of supply chain.
With the shut-down of the food service sector, we’ve seen more fresh lemon fruit become available for processing. Demand in ginger has spiked as consumers seek ways to improve general health. Our High Impact Chemicals (HICs) continue to play an important role in meeting demand for products designed to be free from ingredients people can be allergic or intolerant to. New HICs hitting the market are providing creative flavours that provide an authentic taste profile. Our 5-Methyl-2-thiophenecarboxaldehyde provides sweet, almond, nutty, cherry and bready notes at 5ppm in formulations.
While the pace of change can be daunting, there remains ample opportunities for fruit juice brands willing to create products which hit that consumer sweet spot.
Visit Treatt.com to find out how we can help.