Flavor trends focus on health and wellness in 2022, Flavorchem predicts


Dive Brief:

  • Consumers’ continued interest in health and wellness will be reflected in many of the on-trend flavors for 2022, with an emphasis on fruits in beverages, according a forecast from Flavorchem. The ingredients manufacturer examined a mix of new product data, market reports and social media mentions to formulate its predictions.
  • Flavorchem said citrus flavors and ingredients will piggyback on interest in the fruits’ immune-boosting potential, and cites Calamansi lime, blood orange, yuzu, kumquat and tangerine as trending flavors. CBD will also attract more product developers as brands promote the ingredient’s potential to enhance focus and relaxation. This trend will play out in beverages like sodas, seltzers and enhanced waters, where fruit flavors such as black cherry, blue raspberry, sour green apple and watermelon can complement the phytocannabinoid. 
  • The company also highlighted consumer interest in no- and low-alcohol beverages as a key trend, which, combined with CBD, supplies new avenues of growth for the category’s product and ingredient manufacturers in the year ahead. 

Dive Insight:

Functional ingredients, immune-boosting, clean living: These trends have all enjoyed a long, sustained climb over the past couple of years and shaped innovation in the food industry. Based on Flavorchem’s analysis, their rise will only steepen in the year ahead as consumers’ trial of products during the pandemic — and their positive impressions of the experience — form a solid base for growth.   

Flavorchem cited data from Mintel’s New Products Database showing food and beverage launches that had both a citrus flavor and an immune health claim jumped 21% from 2018 to 2021. It’s a dynamic that also fueled sales of orange juice during the pandemic, but Flavorchem sees room for product developers to expand into more exotic citrus varieties. The popularity of citrus has also driven ingredient development, with Kerry rolling out a line of clean-label citrus extracts in response to the trend. 

Social media mentions of nonalcoholic drinks rose 12% in 2021, including mocktails and beer options, Flavorchem said in its analysis. And interest remains strong, with one-third of consumers, in a recent survey by Catalina, saying they plan to completely avoid alcoholic beverages during the 2021/2022 winter holidays. Flavorchem sees manufacturers innovating with bolder tastes and botanical blendslike using hibiscus or lavendar with mango or prickly pears.

The rise of the sober lifestyle also presents manufacturers — and ingredient providers — with a potential new avenue for growth, as former category leaders such as hard seltzers mature. Flavorchem debuted its own line of flavors for hard seltzers in August, although it’s easy to see them transfer to no- and low-alcohol beverages, with clean-label varieties such as Pomegranate, Honeydew Melon, Raspberry Lychee and Tangerine Lavender.

A related growth area is CBD. While 2021 was positioned as the breakout year for the cannabinoid as an ingredient in food and beverages, a continued lack of regulatory clarity at the federal level has kept many bigger product developers on the sidelines. That said, there have been some notable new offerings, including Karma CBD Water, which is being distributed by alcohol giant Constellation Brands. The line includes naturally sweetened flavors such as Blueberry Yuzu, Blood Orange Papaya and Lavender Orange, which could have as much play in a nonalcoholic gin as a CBD-infused enhanced water.    

Chris Casey contributed to this report.

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