“Provenance has always been important,” said head of strategic insight for retail at market research company IRI, Martin Wood at The Ingredients Show in Birmingham yesterday.
“It’s an aspect of premiumisation so there are all sorts or areas where consumers like to feel they’ve got something a bit special or exclusive. I suppose what’s happened more recently is that it’s become a sort of guarantee of quality or purity, knowing where it’s come from.”
UK firm Besmoke manufactures the typical range of natural wood smokes one would expect from a smoke flavour supplier, such as hickory, beech and apple, but CEO and founder Huw Griffiths has noted a recent rise in demand for “provenance” smoke flavours.
“More and more, people want something totally different and, with the technology we developed, this really opens up opportunities to look at true provenance timbers and then clean up that smoke.
“We can smoke with pine cones or with cuttings from a specific vineyard in France.”
Griffiths said Besmoke has seen particular demand coming from the beverage industry - it recently developed a ginger ale for UK success story Fever Tree with a smoke flavour that enhanced rather than masked the tonic’s botanical flavours – as well as manufacturers of dips, sauces and hummus.
Manufacturers are keen to draw attention to the depth of origin flavours, he said, with on-pack ingredient lists that reference ‘oak smoked salt’ or ‘hickory smoked salt’.
Another firm seeing a rise in demand for origin ingredients is Cheltenham-headquartered supplier The Chilli Doctor.
“A lot of food manufacturers just want heat so they will go for an Indian Kashmiri chili or a small bird’s eye because there’s a lot of potent flavour in there," said marketing manager, Helena Kowalski.
However, on the back of celebrity chefs such as Thomasina Miers or Rick Stein, South American flavours are trending in the UK, Kowalski said so manufacturers are increasingly looking for a chilli variety that will evoke Latino cooking.
“People are aware of ancho chillis, limo chillis. One of our best sellers is the Amarillo. It’s a beautiful, long, yellow chilli that has heat but also a lovely flavour profile. So I would say going forward, it’s very much about South America.
“And people really want provenance,” she added, “whether it’s for chillis or black pepper […] People want traceability, they don’t want some anonymous company.”