In its 2022 flavor trends report put together by Beck Flavors' marketing and R&D teams, the company noted that refreshing fruit flavors and botanical floral notes can boost a product's healthfulness perception in the eyes of consumers.
"Given the pandemic, there's been a huge consumer focus on better eating—which involves calorie consciousness, better ingredients, lower sugars or carbs, and a shift toward flavors that represent a 'healthier' position," said Megan Gibson, marketing manager at Beck Flavors.
Flavors that signal immunity
In its market research, Beck Flavors found that immunity was a key focus for consumers and that following a healthy diet was a key contributing factor with 83% of consumers globally agreeiing that a healthy diet can build immunity.
As a result, refreshing citrus flavors such as clementine, which can pair well with a variety of other fruit flavors (e.g. cranberry, mango, pear, and apple) and spices (ginger and other baking-type spices), have risen in popularity.
“There’s been a 50% year-over-year growth for new products with clementine flavors. They are a vitamin C powerhouse, which is directly associated with antioxidant and immune-boosting properties, making it a very attractive flavor when looking for healthier ingredient options,” said Gibson.
Food and beverage launches with citrus flavors and an immune health claim grew 15% in the past year and are poised for further growth in 2022, according to the company.
Rise of florals and botanicals
“Floral ingredients are being incorporated into more foods and beverages since their tonalities can offer new experiences, aromas and healthy connotations,” said Messina Truttman, VP of sales and marketing at Beck.
“These unique botanicals pair perfectly with more familiar flavors like apple, pear, blackberry or passionfruit to create something that consumers can ease into, without being too bold or exotic that it steers them away.”
Over half (55%) of new development beverage launches in the last two years featured a floral flavor, according to the company's flavor trends report.
Floral flavors are also appearing in more unexpected formats including coffee blends (e.g. lavender & coffee, rose & coffee) as a way for brands and consumers to elevate their daily routines.
While still seen as 'exotic' by some consumers, botanical and floral flavors are on a positive growth trajectory with elderflower poised to be a breakout star in 2022, claimed Beck.
Described by the company as fresh, fruity, and slightly floral with hints of pear and lychee mixed in, elderflower is becoming a more mainstream flavor profile, according to the company.
Flavors and new experiences
With so many people experiencing cancelled travel plans over the past year and a half, there's been a notable rise in popularity of exotic and unexpected flavors and flavor combinations, which can capture consumers' desire for adventure.
Beck Flavors called out Starfruit Apricot as its trending innovative flavor for 2022.
"We've found that 63% of consumers find exotic foods and beverages from all over the world appealing, so we are constantly exploring new exotic pairings that work well across a series of applications," said Adam Berge, applications technologist at Beck Flavors.
Power of nostalgia and indulgence
Rounding out its 2022 flavor predictions, Beck identified coconut caramel (reminiscent of the popular Samoa Girl Scout cookie) as a flavor that balances indulgence with nostalgia, as seven out of 10 consumers agree that they enjoy flavors that remind them of their childhood, the report noted.
According to Beck, 35% of Gen Z consumers are also interested in more indulgent flavors in coffee and tea drinks.
"Now more than ever consumers are drawn toward comfort foods and beverages. Many are leaning towards more rich, indulgent flavors within certain beverages since it provides the taste of their favorite pastime, desserts, or snacks without the loaded calories that come with it," added Beck.