What will we be eating and drinking in 2016? From banana water to vodka that tastes like birthday cake

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Virginia Dare is preparing to launch organic maple flavors with a more complex, sophisticated flavor profile than the buttery, artificial flavors you typically get in flavored pancake syrups, says Anton Angelich.  Picture: Istockphoto: Josianefarand
Virginia Dare is preparing to launch organic maple flavors with a more complex, sophisticated flavor profile than the buttery, artificial flavors you typically get in flavored pancake syrups, says Anton Angelich. Picture: Istockphoto: Josianefarand

Related tags Taste

Elaine Watson caught up with Anton Angelich, group VP marketing at New York-based flavor house Virginia Dare, to get the lowdown on new flavor trends and product concepts, from rooibos-based tea for kids and vodka that tastes of birthday cake, to banana water.

Tell us about some broad trends you’re monitoring 

In broad terms, we’re seeing that everyone else is seeing: demand for clean label, non-GMO, vegan, free-from, organic and natural. When it comes to flavors and GMO, most will be non-GMO anyway, and if you’re using emulsifiers, or starches for spray dried flavors you can get non-GMO versions, but they are more expensive.

More specifically, we’re seeing continued interest in heat, and flavors like wasabi and sriracha.

There’s also really interesting stuff happening in tea. We’ve developed a rooibos-based tea for kids, for example. Rooibos is great because it is caffeine-free and you can pair it with flavors kids like such as watermelon or strawberry and banana. It also works well in bakery applications.

Tell us about some more specific flavor trends you’re monitoring 

Like everyone else, we’ve got on the matcha green tea bandwagon, but from a flavor perspective, it works better in combination with other things, so you don’t get such a spinach-like taste.

There’s a curiosity factor around fermented foods​ like kimchi and kefir, and people are asking about switchel (drinking vinegars​), although again, I think the flavor profiles need to improve before they become more mainstream.  

There’s also a lot of interest in cake flavors​, things like birthday cake, wedding cake, and red velvet, we’re seeing go into everything from smoothies and nutritional products to vodka and dairy beverages.

We’ve talked about it before​, but ginger is still a very hot trend, and it’s still popping up everywhere from craft sodas to snacks. And pumpkin is going in everything – from coffee and egg nog to almond milk.

As for fruits, blueberries, raspberries, elderberries and blackberries are probably the big trends rather than more exotic superfruits. Blueberry is probably the most asked-for flavor. You even see it in coffee at Dunkin Donuts.

Tell us about some flavors or concepts you’re developing 

We’re close to launching dark amber organic maple flavors, liquid and dry, that don’t taste anything like the artificially-flavored table syrups people are used to that are more buttery. We’re going for something really flavorful that works well in beverages, waters, teas, and alcoholic drinks.  

Another concept we’ve developed is banana water made with banana juice concentrates. You see all kinds of plant-based based waters on the market now from maple water to artichoke water and coconut water, where there’s a lot of focus on electrolytes. People already know that bananas are high in potassium, so we thought the concept might generate some interest, as banana is a far more popular flavor than coconut, which is actually quite dry and polarizing, and older people in particular are not so keen on it.

The banana juice concentrates used in Virginia Dare's Banana Water concepts can contribute nutritionally significant amounts of potassium to a finished beverage.  Depending upon a brand's positioning and the expectations of its target market segment, it is possible that banana juice concentrate alone could contribute enough potassium to create an acceptable finished beverage.  On the other hand, when very high electrolyte levels are required, then adding an additional potassium source to the formulation may prove unavoidable.  

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