No Guilt Allowed: There’s Still Room for Indulgence at the Table

From decadent desserts to flavorful cocktails, the indulgent taste market remains as strong as ever. It also has developed a close cousin, the “better for you” market, which meets consumer demand for rich taste alongside a healthier ingredient palate.

A recent Food & Beverage Insider article explored “taking the guilt of out ‘guilty pleasures’” with several insights from the Sensient team. According to Mathias Bohn, product portfolio manager, the COVID-19 pandemic drove consumers into the arms of comfort and indulgence, but they didn’t forget their desire to live a wellness-focused lifestyle.

“This continued evolution of label knowledge has become a critical purchasing factor. The important question we need to consider is ‘why’ a consumer is picking one product over another,” Bohn says. “Physical claims such as ingredient listing, flavors and health and wellness benefits play an important factor, as well as sustainability and traceability.

Another substantial change due to COVID is the rejuvenated interest in products that support overall well-being for the consumer.”

Indulgence in the “now” moment coupled with attention toward longer-term lifestyle benefits creates multiple openings for manufacturers, Bohn adds.

“Consumers are much more likely to try something with a ‘twist’ from a more recognizable source,” he explains. “Think of keto-friendly pizza crust made from cauliflower or comparable products that utilize more vegetable powders, or even introducing inclusions for nutritional, flavor or texture elements. These substitutions, such as vegetable additions in frozen pizza, can still make a tasty snack without the fat and sodium of sausage and meats. Alternate sauce bases like pumpkin, bell pepper, nut pastes, etc. are highly sought-after additions to new launches in the snack arena.”

Some highly visible entrants in the snack category are meal-inspired flavors in potato chips, notes Terry Miesle, master flavorist.

“Think of the Pringles ads with mix-and-match flavor building,” Miesle says. “The consumer increasingly wants branded items and authentic flavors. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern profiles continue to be interesting to consumers. And seasonal offerings also seem to be increasingly popular — the trend of limited-time offerings can bring people to stores or at least provide some enthusiasm.”

This often isn’t easy to do, given the complexities of recreating specific flavor combinations in a food or beverage where they haven’t existed before. Then there is the healthier eating aspect, which can mean replacing a traditional ingredient, such as wheat or corn, with legumes or another protein-forward substitute. Sensient answers the challenge in many ways. Sensasalt reduces sodium while retaining flavor; Entice and the TrueBoost line improves mouthfeel and palatability, and Smoothenol reduces bitterness or off-flavor notes that can arise from reformulations and substitutions.

Now is the time to explore how rich, indulgent products can find new life with new ingredients, flavor combinations and more. All the taste, none of the guilt, is the way to a consumer’s heart, creating brand loyalty and a larger market share. Contact us to learn more.