Flowers used more as flavours
Rising interest in naturalness and growing awareness of the potential health benefits of botanical ingredients have combined with the desire for something more unusual to develop the demand for floral ingredients and flavourings.
The number of global food and drinks launches featuring floral ingredients recorded by Innova Market Insights (Innovadatabase.com) in the first 10 months of 2011 rose 7 per cent over the same period in 2010 to already be within striking distance of the total recorded for the whole of that calendar year and over four times the level recorded five years previously.
The use of flowers as flavourings has long been popular in Japan and other parts of the Far and Middle East, but that trend has now spread to Western markets. Innova Market Insights records that the most popular floral flavours globally in January to October 2011 were jasmine, lotus, rose and chrysanthemum, but that there were significant differences according to geographical region and type of food and drink product. Lotus, for example, is one of the most popular floral flavours in Asia, but barely featured in launches in North America and Europe in 2011, other than as one of a range of flavours in a few speciality teas in France, Germany, the UK and the US, and as an ingredient in a range of authentic-style Chinese Mooncakes in Canada.
In North America and Europe, jasmine and rose were the most popular floral flavours in new product activity, mainly reflecting their use in tea, often in combination with fruits, although orange blossom also featured in tea and honey launches, with lavender and hibiscus also ranked among the leaders. Less common were geranium and cherry blossom, although cherry blossom featured a growing presence in Asia.
The Innova Database shows that a wide range of food and drink sectors have seen activity in the use of floral flavours globally, led by hot beverages, primarily tea, soft drinks and confectionery, but also including alcoholic beverages, dairy products, spreads and seasonings. Tea, soft drinks and confectionery accounted for a combined 70 per cent of total launch activity featuring floral flavourings in the first 10 months of 2011 with jasmine leading in tea, rose in confectionery and chrysanthemum in soft drinks.
Flowers are often used in combination with other ingredients, particularly fruits, and in the soft drinks market have found increasing favour as natural but exotic ingredients in botanical blends for fruit drinks and flavoured waters, particularly for adults, as well as in more specialist functional lines, such as the Pomegranate Hibiscus and Aloe Ferox antioxidant drink from Nishamai in France and the Bizz'Up all-natural hibiscus-based fruit wellness drink in Germany.
In the confectionery sector, rose is a traditional flavour in Turkish Delight-type products, but it now appears in a growing number of premium chocolate lines, particularly dark chocolate, alongside lavender, violet and also orange blossom, geranium and jasmine. Recent launches include Bovetti Chocolate Petales de Rose and Fleur de Lavande in France, the Belgian Dolfin Chocolate Noir Violette and Rose variants in the US and Vanilla Sweets with a Hint of Jasmine by UK retailer Marks & Spencer.
LuAnn Williams, Research Manager for Innova Market Insights, reports that companies are increasingly using floral flavours to impart new and unique notes and aromas to a range of food and drinks products, particularly in countries and regions where they may not traditionally be used. This is particularly impacting the beverages sector, she contends, although confectionery is also seeing a relatively high level of activity as consumers continue to search for something combining novelty with naturalness and a healthy image.
For further information on the Innova Database, the representative for Australia and New Zealand is Glen Wells (Glen.Wells@innova-food.com.au).
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