Delivering its flavour forecast for the coming 12 months, German-based Bell hopes to provide a barometer for the categories, trends and tastes that will influence innovation.
The flavours and fragrances specialist bases its predictions on various research databases as well as its own “internal statistics and insights”, a spokesperson for the company explained.
The company also has an ear to the ground in the industry in order to piece together insights that point to big-picture innovation drivers. “We… attend a lot of trade shows and congresses and are working in close correspondence with our facilities around the world, using our global network, to gain insight and to validate the findings of our trend research,” the spokesperson said.
Driven by the health and wellness mega-trend, consumers continue to push the boundaries on clean label “authentic” foods. This will result in the proliferation of botanic extracts used as food flavourings, Bell predicted.
“Authentic eating has not only become a major food and drink trend – the growing focus on transparency and natural claims underlines the strong need for ingredients that continue to deliver higher value. Therefore, innovations with regard to clean, natural ingredients, such as bota5nical extracts, are a key focus for Bell Flavors & Fragrances EMEA,” Agneta Hoffmann, a marketing specialist at Bell’s flavour division, observed.
Plant-based botanical extracts are used in widespread applications across the food and beverage industry. Bell said that they offer natural flavour, together with “enhanced” organoleptic characteristics and “advantages” in depiction and clean labelling.
The ingredients manufacturer suggested that botanical extracts will gain traction in health-focused beverages, dairy products and savoury applications such as ready meals, sauces and soups.
Flavour highlights of this trend will include rosemary, curly mint and black pepper extract thanks to their ability to work across sweet and savoury applications, Bell suggested. The company also noted an “ongoing” shift towards “floral notes” such as rose blossom and lavender extract.
Plant extracts can also meet functional needs, with the likes of ginseng coming to be viewed as a “superfood” in Europe.
Healthy and natural ingredients, convenience formats and new texture varieties are being taken up rapidly in the snacks category, Bell continued.
Demand is focusing on products that combine indulgence and premiumisation with natural, healthy ingredients.
Bell suggested that this trend will be particularly relevant to salty snacks. In particular, Bell called out the potential for natural seasonings used in combination with vegetable chips or extruded lentil- or pea-based snacks.
“The largest impact driving new product developments in 2018 will come from culinary innovations, with inspiration coming from gourmet cuisine, foodservice or current food and drink trends, such as the craft beer movement,” Bell said.
Bell’s flavour trends include the combination of truffle and cheese, smoked truffle, or smoked caramelised onion. Grilled meat notes will also continue to gain momentum, as well as innovations influenced by other categories, such as combining craft beer and smoky BBQ flavours, the trends report claimed.
Cold brew coffee still hot
Finally, Bell said, cold brew coffee will continue to be a hot trend in 2018, with expanding category applications.
Bell suggested that cold brew coffee will be used as a flavouring within dairy drinks. “Bell EMEA sees a strong trend in combining natural premium cold brew coffee notes with sweet maple or other types of brown notes. On the other hand, especially fragrant floral notes, as a key topic for 2018, pair wonderfully with the variety of aromas found in coffee. As for dairy drinks, these natural, authentic flavour varieties might also be a good choice for the growing market of non-dairy alternatives,” the company noted.
Beyond its classic applications, Bell suggested cold brew coffee could be combined with soda water to deliver a “refreshing alternative” to regular coffee. And, with growing demand for sugar-reduced beverages, it could also be positioned as a substitute for sweet ice teas.