American tastes continue to get more worldly — are food & beverage producers ready?
After a year of little to no travel within their communities, much less around the country or the world, Americans are looking for a little adventure. They’re finding it in their own kitchens, thanks to their willingness to explore the spices and flavors of global cuisine.
That means food and beverage producers need to be ready with new, innovative choices and blends for them, says Roger Lane, marketing manager for Sensient Flavors. In a recent Bake magazine article, Lane spoke of the trends that are driving the next wave of flavor innovation.
“Consumers are familiar with ingredients and flavors like matcha or soy sauce, but they’re digging deeper into flavors unique to Japan,” Lane explained, listing such specifics as Japanese togarashi, a spice blend that features items such as peppers, citrus, seaweed and sesame, and bonito (dried, fermented, smoked tuna flakes) as prime examples.
“Asian flavors continue to trend upwards, and Japan specifically has been getting a lot of attention,” he said. “First, because of the run-up to the Summer 2020 Olympics and then more media focus due to the Olympics being postponed to 2021. Japanese food, while fairly popular in America, is still unfamiliar territory to many consumers.”
Tell a local story for global appeal
One way a flavor can gain prominence is how it’s tied to its site of origin. For Japanese flavors, Lane said, that local story has a great deal of appeal for consumers.
“Each region, sometimes down even to the city level, is known for unique ingredients and flavors,” he said. “Fruits are a great example of this: yubari cantaloupe, densuke watermelon, fuji apple and Shirou Houseki strawberries—a unique white variety grown only in Japan. These are used across many different regional dishes in both sweet and savory applications.”
A similar story can be told within the United States, along with a dash of exclusivity, said Claudia Gunawan, application technologist for Sensient Natural Ingredients, in the article.
“Our Hatch chile line is a certified Hatch chile grown and harvested in New Mexico,” said Gunawan, pointing out that this chile’s earthy flavor makes it a prime candidate for soups, stews and sauces. “The Hatch chile trend became so big that legislators had to pass a law in 2012 that prohibits the sale of chili peppers with the label ‘New Mexican’ unless they are actually grown and harvested in New Mexico. If not, then they are required to put a disclaimer label of ‘not grown in New Mexico.’”
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