flavor trends berry glanbia nutrtitionals

Flavor of the Month: Berry Flavors a Big Hit with Consumers

As berry season approaches, consumers are reminded of the refreshing, sweet, and tangy flavors of their favorite berries. Consumers don’t have to wait until summer thanks to the rise in innovative uses of berry flavors throughout the food industry. Check out the current trends in berry flavors—from blackberry ricotta pizza to strawberry harissa to blueberry lavender sparkling water, and grab some berry good ideas for your next product!

The Trend in Berry Flavors

Berry was one of the fastest-growing fruit flavors between 2015 and 2019 based on its use in beverage launches globally, according to Mintel.1 Products flavored with berry have broad appeal due to their bright sweet flavors, vibrant colors, and health associations derived from berries’ superfood status. Blueberry flavor is doing particularly well, growing 101 percent in global product launches during the past ten years.2
The most popular berry flavors used in foods and beverages in the U.S. are:

  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Cranberry
  • Cherry
  • Blackberry

In addition to these perennial favorites, exotic berries often grab the spotlight after they pop up on top superfoods lists in the media. Known for their especially high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, the hottest superfood berries include:

  • Acai berries
  • Goji berries
  • Acerola cherries
  • Maqui berries
  • Aronia berries

As consumers seek to stay on top of the latest foods that can support health and wellness, some manufacturers are including exotic berries in their products, often in a blend with more traditional berries. Custom flavors can help ensure the right balance of berry flavors, so the product is not overpowered by the less familiar flavor. For example, berries like goji and aronia can impart a bitter taste.

flavor trends berry 1

The Science Behind the Enticing Flavors of Berries

From an evolutionary standpoint, plants that produced brightly colored, fragrant, and delicious fruits had the best chance of survival. The plant’s ability to attract animals to its fruit determined whether the fruit would be eaten, allowing the undigested seeds to be dispersed far and wide. Birds, as well as mammals such as deer, foxes, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, and raccoons will happily eat wild berries given the opportunity.

Berries have complex flavor profiles, characterized by numerous volatile compounds. For example, about one-hundred volatile compounds have been identified in blueberries, while around two-hundred fifty have been discovered in raspberries and blackberries.3

Besides their scrumptious flavor, berries are known for their eye-catching red and blue hues from anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are natural pigments that also act as antioxidants and are associated with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.

A Look at Today’s Innovative Berry Flavor Applications

A top foodservice trend in berry applications today is incorporating berry flavors into savory dishes. Chefs have been roasting blueberries to top salmon, pork, and pizza and adding grilled cranberries to Brussels sprouts. House-made berry vinaigrettes, marinades, glazes, and sauces are being kept on hand as a quick way to add a touch of sweetness and tartness to savory dishes—for example, blackberry sauce on pork chops, cherry glaze on salmon, and raspberry marinade for chicken and duck.

Berry is also being used to add flavor interest to popular chile-based sauces. Examples include strawberry harissa and blackberry habanero BBQ sauce for use on meat or seafood. Fermentation also works well with berries since they can handle the extra tartness. Pickled blueberries with goat cheese can now be found on menus, in addition to berry chutneys and fruit salsas.

flavor trends berry 2

For packaged goods, berry continues to be a successful flavor category for a wide range of ready-to-drink beverages beyond juices—such as sports and energy drinks, sparkling waters, kombuchas, teas, and alcoholic beverages. An emerging beverage trend is berries with florals, such as strawberry rose, raspberry elderflower, and blueberry lavender. Pairing berry with tropical fruit flavors—for example, blueberry pomegranate, strawberry kiwi, and raspberry guava—is another way to put a twist on traditional berry flavors.

Foods that capitalize on the appeal of berry flavors are wide-ranging and include sweet baked goods, frozen desserts, fruit snacks, confections, baby foods, yogurts, breakfast cereals, and nutrition bars. The health associations of berries lend additional support for their use in healthy products. Protein bars, protein beverages, and plant-based yogurts are all examples of products that can be leveraged with berry flavors but may require the use of a protein flavor masker for the best tasting protein before adding the berry flavor.

Flavor masking (especially bitter masking) is important for neutralizing the off-notes often associated with plant proteins such as pea protein. A natural masking flavor can help achieve the best protein flavor possible for a clean, neutral palette that will allow the berry flavor to shine through. Custom flavors can even be created that combine a protein flavor masker with a berry flavor.

Make Your Product the Berry Best

Glanbia Nutritionals has solutions and expertise in flavor masking, bitter masking, and custom flavors for masking protein, plant-based ingredients, vitamins, and minerals to provide you with the best berry flavor for your products. Collaborate with us to meet the flavor trends of today. 


References

1. Mintel. (2020). Flavor Focus: Beverages.
2. Grebow, J. (2019). 2020 Flavor trends for food and beverage. Retrieved from https://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/food-beverage/2020-flavor-trends-food-and-beverage
3. Du, X. & Qian, M. (2010). Flavor and Health Benefits of Small Fruits: Blackberry, Raspberry, and Blueberry. Retrieved from https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/bk-2010-1035.ch003
 

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