Ingredients major DSM surveyed 5,000 city-dwelling consumers aged 18-45 years across five countries – Poland, Brazil, China, Nigeria and the US.
“The most striking part of these findings is that natural and authentic has become main stream,” said Coen van Oorschot, business line manager of process flavors at DSM Food Specialities.
“Globally, whether in Nigeria or the US, food has to taste good – liking is the most important thing for consumers,” Van Oorschot told FoodNavigator.
“Don’t underestimate the importance of consumer liking in these countries… Price is not the most important parameter, taste is.”
More than half (55%) of consumers surveyed said a ‘fresh or natural’ flavour is what makes the food they buy taste delicious. This was felt most strongly in China, with 72% citing it as an important requirement.
Just behind ‘fresh or natural’ was the desire that foods ‘taste as if it were made at home’ – with respondents in Brazil particularly keen on this (67%).
While two-thirds still want foods to be convenient, only one third of the total surveyed said price is a factor when deciding to buy a processed or pre-prepared food again.
Slaving over a hot stove…
Developing these home-made flavours and aromas in processed foods that are convenient and appealing to consumers is a huge challenge, Van Oorschot said.
“Natural and authentic – you can’t pinpoint in one sentence… It’s about the taste experience, just like when you have taken your time to prepare food,” he said.
It’s not about mono-directional tastes, it’s more about complex profiles, he explained. Consumers want the base flavour, middle flavour, umami, aromas – they want it all, he added.
The magic three: Onion, garlic and spices
“Most international cuisines start by frying onion, garlic and spices,” Van Oorschot said. These three key ingredients appeal across the globe to consumers, he said.
“Authenticity discussions start with spices, onion and garlic. There are other complexities of course after.”
For ingredient suppliers, it’s crucial to capture all the flavour and aroma from these products when processing – for an intense final taste.
There is a move away from mono-directional ingredients
Industry is not standing still when it comes to innovation, Van Oorschot said, and there is a continuous combination of innovation between technology, processing and nature.
“Flavour manipulation is not something people are really doing. Industry is more looking at being creative with what we get from nature,” he said.
He also said that the future of flavour development would focus on simple ingredients that can perform a number of complex functions.
“I think we’re going away from mono-directional ingredients and moving towards ingredients that do several things,” he said.