More flavor options exist within the savory category than one might imagine.
When it comes to flavoring foods and beverages, sweet or savory is no longer enough. To keep up with the competition, brands can now utilize sophisticated flavors. These flavors can evoke ideas of place and culture while providing a refined experience above a generic flavor (think “Marrakech limonetta flavor” instead of “lemon flavor”).
Ever-industrious, flavor companies around the globe are churning out new flavors based on new capabilities and changing consumer interests. Within the savory category in particular, more flavor options exist than one might imagine.
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Though flavors may not provide nutrition or functional value, they tend to be associated with their source ingredients-some of which do impart benefits beyond flavor. An association between flavor and health is spurring a trend towards seemingly healthy flavors. Such savory flavors include ginger, turmeric, ginseng, holy basil, and even apple cider vinegar.
“Functionality is on the rise, with consumers looking to food and beverages to fuel their day, boost their mood, and supplement their health routines,” says Melissa Muldowney, strategic marketing director for Kerry Flavors (Beloit, WI). “As a result, the consumer-perceived gap between food, supplements, and medicine continues to narrow.”
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Expectation for authenticity continues to trend in foods and beverages. A way to capitalize on this movement is through flavors that are regional or otherwise quite specific in name. Harissa, gochujang, piri piri, and chimichurri are examples of flavors that evoke ideas of place and culture while providing distinct flavor notes that are salty and/or spicy. Utilizing such flavors can give a home-cooked vibe to mainstream foodservice products.
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Heat and Cooking Processes
Undoubtedly, flavors with heat have been in vogue for quite some time. The trend continues to penetrate foods and beverages while becoming more nuanced with elements of regionality and cooking style. Within the category of pepper flavors, Hatch pepper, ghost pepper, habanero pepper, goat horn hot pepper, and Szechuan pepper are realistic flavor options that can provide unique combinations of flavor, heat, and cultural messaging. In celebration of cooking, flavor specialists now offer charred, burnt, smoked, blackened, and caramelized flavors that are both flavorfully complex and visually appropriate.
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Plant-based meat alternatives continue to thrive in both restaurants and grocery stores. The sustained demand for these products is encouraging flavor specialists to take part in the creative process by offering unusual flavors such as vegan cheese flavors and vegan meat flavors. Some are even quite specific, such as vegan smoked gouda flavor.
With vegan consumption increasing in popularity, flavorists are likely to keep churning out new product enhancements.
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Historically, savory flavors are reserved for traditionally savory items. Sauces, canned goods, and prepared meals are obvious choices for salty and spicy notes. But the savory category is expanding in its reach.
“Now, savory flavors are trending in snack food and bakery products, including chips, popcorn, nuts, dried meat, dried beans, dried vegetables, crackers, and breads,” says Megan Byrnes, marketing representative for Gold Coast Ingredients Inc. (Commerce, CA). “We’ve also seen savory flavors introduced in trending cocktail beverages and nutrition bars to help new products stand out from the rest.”
With the assistance of flavor and food science specialists, savory flavors are seemingly only limited by the manufacturer’s intent and imagination.
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Tomato Collection (Sidebar)
As a fun tribute to one of the world’s favorite savory fruits, Gold Coast Ingredients is actively promoting a new tomato flavor collection. Customers can choose from a variety of precise tomato flavor profiles, such as Fresh Tomato, Vine-Ripened Tomato, Roasted Tomato, and Fried Green Tomato. Consider these for all-year marketing or seasonal releases. Gold Coast says its tomato flavors pair well with applications such as seasonings, snacks, sauces, salsas, beverages, and breads.
Flavor Formats (Sidebar)
Savory or not, flavors can be made in a range of formats for seemingly any manufacturer’s functional or marketing need. Prinova Group LLC (Carol Stream, IL), for example, offers liquid, powder, spray-dried, and encapsulated flavors. Important for labeling and marketing purposes, the company’s flavors are available from origins that can be artificial, natural, or a combination of both.
Flavors get even more technical with options such as natural WONF (“with other natural flavors”) and natural type. Natural WONF flavors can be sourced from a particular ingredient but “with other natural flavors,” whereas natural type flavors can mimic a certain flavor while being sourced entirely from unrelated ingredients.
Generally speaking, flavor specialists around the world are sure to have a range of these flavor formats and origins at their disposal.
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