According to associate director for food and drink at market research company Mintel Jenny Zegler, the future of sweet flavours has many potential opportunities.
"Sugar continues to be a concern for consumers globally so we're seeing brands making less sweet options," she said, referencing Canadian brand Garden Lites, which has launched a blueberry and oat muffin that also contains fresh courgettes and carrots.
“Vegetables are invading a host of sweet categories and can be used to create flavor profiles that are inherently less sweet,” said Zegler in an online blog post.
“In bakery, carrots and other naturally sweet vegetables such as beetroot, parsnips, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and courgettes can add flavour and texture to cakes, and help keep them fresh and moist.”
In Europe, German brand Verival has an organic pumpkin and tomato porridge that is high in protein and made with whole vegetable pieces, herbs and spices.
Marcia Mogelonsky, global analyst at Mintel said the idea is to use vegetables with a certain flavour profile, resulting in cereals that “tend not to be really savoury, but less sweet'”.
Companies are also experimenting with products featuring new combinations of sweet with savoury or spicy flavours, or even sweet versions of traditionally savoury categories. Launched in Portugal by family-owned, Germany-headquartered manufacturer Dr. Oetker, the Ristorante Dolce Al Cioccolato is a frozen dessert pizza topped with chocolate sauce and three types of chocolate.
Meanwhile, last year, German biscuit manufacturer Bahlsen launched Leibniz Pick Up! sandwich cookies filled with chocolate and whose sweetness was offset by chili.
Tying flavours to a specific location could also provide "approachable innovation", Zegler added. US confectionery giant the Hershey Company is one firm doing this with its introduction of limited edition products that have flavours inspired by six US states, such as Florida Key Lime Pie Twizzlers.