Taste has long been considered one of the most important of the five human senses, having evolved over the years as per the changes in food preferences. While little is understood about the chemistry of taste, the response of this sense to certain stimulants in foods has proved to be immensely beneficial to the food flavors and enhancers industry, which is evident from the burgeoning popularity of naturally occurring and chemical additives used to enhance the taste of food.
Salt is known as the most prominent of seasonings, having been in use for thousands of years, initially as a preservative, and more recently as a flavor enhancer to make foods like bitter vegetables and gamy meats, among others, more palatable.
The food flavors and enhancers market, which is expected to exceed $13.5 billion by 2027, based on a Global Market Insights Inc. report, has become a particularly vital element in the progress of the food and beverage sector worldwide, especially in an era where processed foods are gaining prominence. Flavors and textures of processed foods are required to be adapted to varying consumer preferences, depending on numerous factors, including indigenous climate, land as well as the unique flavor profiles of the region. In general, food flavors and enhancers industry trends mirror those of the processed food sector, which includes the growing propensity toward premium quality, natural and health-focused food offerings.
Emergence of Health Megatrends Boosts the Usage of Natural Food Enhancers in Bakery Products
In recent years, especially since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic which highlighted the importance of health maintenance, consumer dietary preferences took a considerable turn. Awareness regarding the significance of healthier, naturally sourced dietary elements exacerbated the move toward emerging health and wellness megatrends, such as veganism.
Once considered a niche concept, the veganism trend has garnered massive momentum over the past few years. According to estimates from Kirkwood, the number of people following plant-based diets in the U.S. rose significantly from 290,000 in 2004 to 9.6 million in 2019, indicating a nearly 300% hike.
This evolution has impacted the food flavors and enhancers industry as well, which is set to register a valuation of over $11 billion by 2026 from the natural flavors segment. The growing shift toward plant-based diets has resulted in higher consumer demand for natural flavoring product alternatives to conventional artificial enhancers.
Bakery manufacturers, in particular, are responding to this need by focusing on the development and innovation of healthier food options with cleaner labels, functional advances and naturally sourced ingredients. This includes the development and use of flavor enhancers derived using natural ingredients that can provide the sensory quality required by consumers while still meeting health parameters.
To that end, in January 2022, ITS (International Taste Solutions) introduced a range of new natural flavoring products in powder and liquid formats, dubbed Vegan Boost. Developed to mimic the attributes of conventional bakery items, the all-in-one solution was designed to accentuate creamy and buttery flavors in plant-based patisserie and bakery products without the use of dairy and eggs.
Rising demand for Eclectic Flavor Combinations Encourages North American Flavor Manufacturers to Embrace New Flavor Profiles
Consumer food preferences have shifted significantly over the years, a trend that is evident from the growing acceptance of unique flavored foods in regions like North America. As a result of this, the North America food flavors and enhancers market is set to depict a 5.5% CAGR through 2027, as flavor manufacturers in the region shift their focus toward developing and marketing innovative flavor combinations.
The shift toward eclectic and exotic flavor profiles has become increasingly apparent since 2020, mainly due to the travel limitations induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which drove consumers to seek new ways to embrace different cultures. Consumers worldwide are becoming increasingly accepting of unusual and exotic foods and beverages from across the globe, blazing a trail for an “exotic effect,” which is being supported by the rise of flavor enhancers based on citrus fruits such as tamarind, yuzu, orange blossom, lime and others.
Fusion-based flavor combinations are also becoming popular for the production of innovative food products, with ingredient manufacturers helping food producers deliver novel taste profiles to accommodate the needs of an evolving consumer base, especially in the U.S.
For instance, in March 2022, Illinois-based Flavorchem introduced a new range of citrus flavor enhancers, designed primarily for use in the development of immunity-boosting products, given the common association of citrus flavors with immune support. Dubbed Citrus Vacation, the collection includes six non-GM, kosher, vegan flavors derived from sophisticated citrus varietals, including Sweet Tangerine, Fruity Kumquat, Fresh Calamansi, Zesty Key Lime Yuzu Citrus, Juicy Blood Orange, and Lime, designed to be adapted to any food or beverage applications.
Earlier, in September 2021, OFI (Olam Food Ingredients), an industry-leading developer of sustainable and natural ingredients, introduced the first collection in its new range of spice blends called “Blends of the Americas.” Featuring 17 ready-to-use dry blends, the product range was designed to offer a clean-label solution to food service companies, retailers, and manufacturers. It focused on developing authentic and consistent flavors inspired by popular cuisines from across the continent, including the U.S. Southwest, modern Mexico and the Caribbean.
In addition to the focus on introducing novel flavor profiles, the food flavors and enhancers industry is also benefiting greatly from the increasing focus on the development of innovative flavor manufacturing processes. Companies like Reduced are contributing greatly to this; the Copenhagen-based food-tech firm received pre-seed funding worth $406,000 in July 2021 to develop a new facility for the manufacturing of natural flavor enhancers using upcycled produce and a focus on intense umami flavor.Backed by developments such as these, it is likely that the food flavors and enhancers market will witness a favorable growth trajectory and establish its presence as an essential element in the food and beverage ecosystem of the future.