In order for local businesses to survive in the food industry, they need to keep up to date with the rapidly changing flavour trends. The capacity to predict future trends could make or break an organisation.
Fashion is not just about the style of clothes we wear. Food flavours can be trendy too. Just as clothes, style and ways if behaving can go out of fashion overnight – sometimes it seems by some strange hidden force – so can the way in which we eat and the kind of flavours we prefer. There seems to be an unconscious goal in most of us to keep in-step with whatever is on trend – it helps us feel accepted, normal, safe and part of a group.
Why do food flavour trends change?
Over the last 50 years there has been so many forces which has shaped eating habits and triggered exciting new flavour requirements. As communications become easier, consumers travel more, and they try new tastes from different cultures – this in turn creates a demand globally for foods, recipes and ingredients in home cultures. Commercial companies recognise markets and attempt to answer that demand. Vast progress in technology has ensured that marketing, logistics and promotional practices are such that those that demand can be catered for.
Traditionally many factors are likely to impact on eating habits and demand:
- The call for more healthy food
- Fast accessible food which meet busy lifestyles
- Food which is styled to the trends expected from a specific sub-group (i.e. younger more adventurous eating styles in younger age groups)
- Making medical recipes (i.e. gluten-free) more palatable and exciting.
- Keeping in mind new international flavours and recipes.
- Availability of ingredients (for instance, global citrus supply has inspired the IFF to develop citrus flavours from sustainable and renewable sources).
- Technology and the streamlining of food processing in line with sustainability and best practices
5 emerging food flavour trends in Asia
Clearly individual organisations will carry out their own research in order to meet the needs of their target market but this factor within the food industry is so important that it has spawned its own global institution to monitor fashions and trends in flavours – the International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF). In a recent article by foodnavigator-asia, the IFF reiterated the need for native Asian companies to keep up with the rapidly changing tastes of consumers and in doing so highlighted 5 emerging flavour trends.
As much as there will be rapid changes in food demand at the “flavour of the month” level, it is felt that it is also very necessary to keep track of macro shifts in global society in order to prepare for long-term opportunities. The IFF have underlined 5 areas for modern organisations to keep front of mind in order to meet the requirements of the consumer in Asia:
- A need for healthy foods
As medical knowledge advances, we are more able to determine how foods impact on our bodies and so consumers across the world are looking for flavours and ingredients which are associated with good health and well-being. In Asia, fermented flavours such as kimchi and kombucha are becoming very popular. In the case of the latter, the market is predicted to grow by 25% by 2020.
- A demand for natural foodstuffs
As much as technology has advanced in the processing of foodstuffs, over the last few years scientists have become aware that such additives as pesticides and other chemical factors used to aid production, can also be detrimental to health. There has therefore been a call for more natural, organic foods and flavours (this has included the use of brewed ginger in beverages and the increased use of such botanical ingredients such as turmeric and butterfly pea flower).
- Japanese flavourings
In Asia, there has definitely been an attraction to unique Japanese flavourings. Wasibi and Sakura are well-known and popular examples. Europe is also having a profound effect on Asian taste buds as cheese is also becoming exceedingly popular.
- A fusion of flavours
Fusion is when 2 opposing flavours are put together within a recipe to complement each other (such as sweet and sour for instance). This approach is most seen in everyday snacks such as potato chip variants which now include favourites such as Hainanese chicken rice and Singapore Laksa flavours. The adventurous are also trying out sour flavoured beverages (as opposed to sweet flavours)
- Trust and transparency
Consumers in Asia are looking for more transparency with the foods they buy. They need to know what is going into the product and even how it is processed. Trust of any brand is therefore essential and the IFF encourages native local businesses to work on trust through good promotions and product reviews in order to win consumers and foster loyalty.
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