Mintel unveils 2009 flavor forecast

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Flavor, Mintel

Persimmon and Masala are among the flavor trends that Mintel has named in its new forecast for 2009, which focuses on exotic fruits and ethnic influences.

Mintel predicts that food and beverage manufacturers will reach for exotic fruits and “fresh, soothing flavors with a touch of spice”​ to liven up their new products and move away from what it describes as “bland, mild or boring” ​tastes.

Mintel’s product expert, Lynn Dornblaser, said: “Today’s manufacturer is constantly looking for those tastes and aromas that stand out and capture shoppers’ imagination.

“By adding exotic fruits and unusual ingredients to everyday products, companies give people the opportunity to experiment and move out of their comfort zones without breaking the bank.”

The analyst has identified seven flavors that it believes will come into the limelight this year and spread across the globe, “moving beyond their core market or country of origin, to become the heavy hitters of 2009”​.

They are:

Persimmon, which is expected to be blended with more common fruits and is poised to make a major splash in food and beverage, according to Mintel.

Masala, an Indian-inspired flavor typically associated with curry, already features in products such as India’s Magic Masala Crisps, from Lay’s.

Starfruit, which is distinctly flavored and is expected to become a major global player.

Lavender, which can be paired with more familiar ingredients to bring a naturally soothing, aromatic quality to food and drink. Existing products include Lindt Chocolat Provence’s Lemon-Lavender Dream chocolate.

Cactus, which is already a popular food flavor in Latin America.

Chimichurri, also from Latin America, which is a sauce for grilled meats recognized for its clean, clear flavor. It is seen in the US in new products such as Gaucho Ranch’s Original Argentinean Chimichurri Steak Sauce. However it is expected to become more popular.

Peri-Peri, which is an African hot sauce already made popular by Nando’s restaurants in the UK.

Alternative crops in the US

In the case of persimmon for example, it is not just the flavor but the real fruit that is showing promise in the US.

Dr Esmaeil Fallahi, professor and director of the fruit program at the University of Idaho is part of a team looking for alternative fruit crops, such as quince, table grapes, persimmons and Asian pears, for growing in the Pacific Northwestern area.

He told FoodNavigator-USA.com that in the next five or more he imagined the fruits of choice would include some novelty and exotic peaches and nectarine, certain cultivars of table grapes and apples with high flavor, small bananas which are sweeter, blueberries and some exotic berries.

Fallahi said that types of new white flesh nectarines and peaches are already gaining popularity and have a “truely unique”​ taste and flavor. Also, certain pluots, a cross between a plum and an apricot, are showing promise.

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