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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
In Europe, confectioners are increasingly turning to fruit and vegetable concentrates as natural flavors, colorants, and ingredients overall.
As the clean-label movement sweeps through the food and beverage market, confectionery makers, too, are stepping up their use of natural ingredients. In a January 20 webcast, market researcher Innova Market Insights said that in Europe, confectioners are increasingly turning to fruit and vegetable concentrates as natural flavors, colorants, and ingredients overall.
In Europe, the number of confectionery launches-gummies, jellies, and hard candy-featuring a fruit or vegetable extract nearly doubled in 2015 compared to 2010, said speaker Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation, Innova Market Insights. In fact, nearly a full quarter of all European confectionery launched in Q3 2015 contained a fruit or a vegetable extract, she said. “We now have a lot of natural colors and flavors made from extracts,” she added. “It’s very successful for all those ingredient companies that made early bets on fruit and vegetable extracts.”
These natural extracts also create a “link to real food” that appeals to consumers nowadays, Williams said. “We see lots of interest in eating more fruits and vegetables overall,” she said. Marketers are leveraging this appeal, highlighting confectionery products that are “made with real fruit juice,” for instance.
Fruit and vegetable flavors are also infiltrating chocolate. Coconut, in particular, is a very popular chocolate flavor now. Williams noted a 21% increase in coconut-flavored chocolate in 2015 over 2014. She added that coconut also complements other trending fruity flavors such as superfruits like goji berry. “It’s a way to offer a new taste experience to consumers,” she said, adding that marketers are also getting creative with other notes, like ginger-flavored chocolate.
Other clean-label trends are also going big in confectionery. Williams noted a lot of growth in organic and non-GMO claims especially, as well as dairy-free claims in chocolate, which she said in Europe increased 124% year-over-year in 2015. She called this trend very interesting, considering the fact that in the early 1990s, “there was a huge debate about the definition of chocolate, and there was a lot of discussion about how much milk it contained, and now you’re seeing that products containing no milk at all are really popular and that consumers are really interested in all types of alternatives.”
Finally, Williams said, when it comes to confectionery, consumers want to hear the storytelling used to sell the products, especially stories highlighting the natural or ethical origins. “This is really important, not only to small companies. Big companies can also tell relevant stories to consumers that are really interesting, she said.
Nutritional Outlook magazine