Similar to the drops, twists and turns of popular amusement park rides, product fads can leave beverage-makers gasping for breath — and redirecting budgets. Take for example, pomegranate, formerly the most super of the superfruits, which has plausibly suffered the most due to consumers’ frequently fickle preferences.
Earlier this year, Beverage Industry’s 2011 Product Development Survey forecasted a return to traditional flavors. Survey respondents indicated that traditional flavors, such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, remained popular choices, but rising stars such as superfruits were not as popular as lemon, lime and orange flavors. Now more than mid-way through the year, ingredient suppliers are reporting that industry flavor trends continue to include superfruits as well as several twists on traditional favorites.
It’s hard to know when inspiration will strike. During an interview for this month’s Beverage R&D article on flavor trends, Cathianne Leonardi, flavorist at Allen Flavors, Edison, N.J., discussed how she developed a line of beverage prototypes inspired by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit dedicated to late fashion designer Alexander McQueen. The “Savage Beauty” exhibit featured McQueen’s garments along with the audio and video presentations that accompanied the designs during their respective runway shows.
Allen Flavors Inc., Edison, N.J., was founded in 1990. The company started as a one-room, two-person operation. Since then, the company has evolved into one of the largest privately held suppliers of flavor to the beverage industry.
With new beverage flavors fighting for consumers’ attention and juice prices higher than usual due to inclement weather, U.S. orange juice sales have declined during the last several years, says Sarah Theodore, global drinks analyst for Mintel Food & Drink, Chicago. More specifically, orange juice sales were down about 9 percent in food, drug and mass retail, excluding Walmart, between 2008 and 2010, she says.
Somewhat serendipitously, I opted to read the May 16 edition of The New Yorker featuring an in-depth profile on PepsiCo’s food and beverage innovation plans while traveling to last month’s IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo in New Orleans. The “Snacks for a Fat Planet” article by John Seabrook details PepsiCo’s plans for innovation across its portfolio of products with insight from senior PepsiCo executives, including Jonathan McIntyre, senior vice president of R&D global beverages, who was featured in Beverage Industry’s April cover story.
The Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) 2011 Annual Meeting & Food Expo took place June 11-14 in New Orleans. The event attracted food professionals from around the world as well as 900 exhibiting companies. At the keynote panel, journalist Michael Specter and panelists representing the food industry tackled the question about how to go about changing the image of food science in the marketplace. Specter, who is a staff writer for The New Yorker, stated that U.S. consumers tend to mistrust science, which includes a wide-ranging — although unsubstantiated — mistrust of genetically modified foods.
Through the end of October, more than 300 new teas have launched in 2010, according to Mintel International’s Global New Products Database. Bagged teas led with the most new product introductions so far this year with 148 launches, and new ready-to-drink teas followed with 114 releases.