Firmenich’s flavor of the year for 2018 is... FIG: ‘It represents health and authenticity’

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Firmenich’s flavor of the year for 2018 is... FIG: ‘It represents health and authenticity’

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It has surged in popularity in recent years thanks to its complex flavor profile, health benefits, versatility in sweet and savory applications, and ‘artisanal’ culinary associations, says flavors giant Firmenich, which has selected fig as its flavor of the year for 2018.

“The fig is a study in contradictions. It is naturally sweet, yet extremely complex. It is meaty and gritty, but can also melt in your mouth… Firmenich sees no boundaries for where fig can go – with categories such as alcoholic drinks and protein ripe for fig-inspired product development.”

Packed with fiber, magnesium, manganese, calcium and potassium, fig is “becoming increasingly popular with consumers, with fig flavored products growing [globally] by more than 80% between 2012 and 2016,​” said Chris Millington, president of Firmenich’s flavor division.

The company added: “Firmenich’s trend insights show that fig resonates with consumers who perceive it to represent health and authenticity, two trends that topped Euromonitor’s outlook for 2017, and we believe these trends will continue into 2018. In addition, as consumers look to replace processed sugar with alternative sweeteners, fig has become a common go-to substitute.​”

Popular in jams and cereal, fig has also started to appear in yogurt, tea, energy drinks, and chewing gum, added Firmenich.

“In savory dishes, fig provides a robust sweetness that pairs wonderfully with the salt-forward flavor of cured meats – and menu items such as bacon wrapped-figs, and prosciutto and fig pizza have become ubiquitous.”

“Figs are lusciously sugary with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds,​” said Matthew Walter, head of culinary at Firmenich. “Raw figs are tart but make a tasty addition to spicy curries.”

“A fig is consumed in different formats, so it provides room for creativity to reflect different facets in top notes: fruitiness of the ripe fruit, green leafy notes of the fresh fruit, indulgent and rich notes of the dried version. From a flavor point of view, it can be translated into fruity, jammy, floral, green, leafy, coumarinic, woody, winey, and sulfury dimensions.”

Anne-Claire Robineau, flavorist, Firmenich

“Pomegranate, olive, dates, and fig were all on the rise and have continued to gain traction in recent years, but there is something about fig that we feel is special to this moment in time.”

Mikel Cirkus, director of strategic foresight, Firmenich

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