Fruits and Vegetables Move to the Forefront
Not only are fruits and vegetables chock-full of beneficial nutrients (the CDC says that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases), but they also can be transformed into different types of functional ingredients. That’s why product developers are considering fruits and vegetables as more than healthy snacks or side dishes.
“Fruits and vegetables as ingredients and flavors have been trending for quite some time now—think of the ‘fruit on the bottom’ claims on the yogurt cups or pieces of vegetables in cream cheese spreads,” says Keera Perumbala, marketing associate, sweet and beverage, at Sensient Flavors. “Fruit flavors have become essential in categories such as beer and are even finding their space in coffees. Meanwhile, flavored vegetable chips and kimchis are the ask of the healthy consumer.”
Flavorful Fruits and Vegetables
Unexpected applications and exotic varieties of fruits and vegetables are allowing product developers to pack more punch in product formulations. Vegetables such as beets, spinach, kale, and sweet potato are being used in sweet applications like ice cream, while fruits like yumberry, goji berry, prickly pear, and guanabana are turning up in yogurts, says Yashar Shakarami, application technologist, sweet flavors, at Sensient Flavors.
Fruits are also turning up in savory applications, especially sauces and soups where the sweetness of fruit helps to balance out a savory profile, says Roger Lane, marketing manager, savory flavors, at Sensient Flavors. “Peach, raspberry, cherry, and blueberry all work well in barbecue sauces or in salsa applications. In soups, with the trend of drinkable soups and juicing diets, fruits are being combined to create more palatable flavors. Watermelon gazpacho, orange carrot ginger soup, or butternut squash and pear all work perfectly.”
Another trending flavor across many products categories is smoke, which can come from naturally smoking vegetables and then incorporating them into sauces, condiments, soups, and more. “Smoke appeals to those who are looking to discover new, complex flavors to satisfy their adventurous palates,” says Kristie Hung, marketing specialist at Sensient Natural Ingredients.
“According to Mintel, smoked flavors are popular in restaurant side dishes, growing 18% in the past two years,” Hung continues. “However, recently, smoked flavors are moving beyond restaurant menus, appearing in product segments like snacks, meal centers, and meat or meat analog products. According to Mintel, 37.9% of new products in the snacks segment and 66.7% of new products in the sauces and seasonings segments are using natural ingredients like Sensient Natural Ingredients’ smoked onion, smoked paprika, and other naturally smoked vegetables to elevate flavor.”
Sensient Natural Ingredients’ naturally smoked vegetables can be easily added as a topical seasoning on top of a fish fillet or gazpacho soup, or in a marinade to elevate flavor of a simple meat or poultry dish. Furthermore, you can also incorporate pieces of smoked tomato and onion into salmon patties or beef burgers to emphasize the fire-cooked notes without actually having to put them on the grill.