Firmenich: 2020 flavour of the year will be blueberry

18 Dec 2019

Firmenich has announced ‘Classic Blueberry’ as the flavour of the year for 2020, due to its longstanding association with well-being and its role in helping usher in a new wave of food and beverage options for consumers around the world.

This is the eighth consecutive year that the company has cast its vote for the hottest food and beverage flavour.

Firmenich: 2020 flavour of the year will be blueberry

“What’s classic is new again,” said Emmanuel Butstraen, President, Firmenich Flavours. “With blueberry we celebrate a flavour that is timeless and enduring, but also increasingly relevant. Blueberry has been a beloved flavour for centuries in many markets and today, with our increasing focus on health and wellness, blueberries are being rediscovered and growing to be one of the most relevant flavours in many categories,” he added.

Consumer interest in blue berries overall has surged in part due to a strong linkage with well-being. In a recent Firmenich social media study of online discussions around “super foods”, berries were the number one food mentioned, and blueberry was the number one berry. Products with blueberry flavour are nearly twice as likely to make a functional claim on pack as a typical food or beverage according to Mintel data. Blueberry as an ingredient has been growing in food and beverage use each year since 2008. Agricultural production of blueberries in the U.S. has increased fivefold since 2007 and has more than doubled worldwide in that same time period (source USDA, UN FAO).

As a flavour used in new product development, blueberry has seen 101% growth over the past 10 years globally, with particularly rapid growth in markets such as the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, according to Mintel. Blueberry has seen growth in nearly all of the food and beverage categories tracked by Mintel, with particularly strong 10 year growth in baby foods (700%), snacks (255%), special drinks (224%), breakfast cereals (145%), dairy (143%), sports & energy drinks (127%), and alcoholic drinks (100%).

There is currently a tremendous influx of new food and beverage products entering the market, due to an increasing focus on issues such as sustainability and health. “As consumers are being introduced to an expanded offering of choices, more traditional flavours like blueberry are being used to help them experience these new food trends, as they evoke positive feelings at a time in history when we crave optimism,” said Mikel Cirkus, Global Creative Director Foresight & Trenz for Firmenich. In a recent survey across 16 countries conducted with nearly 5000 consumers, Firmenich found that the number one emotion associated with blueberry was happiness, followed by a sense of comfort.

“This choice of a more traditional flavour as our ‘flavour of the year’ actually represents a more significant shift in the food industry toward more intentional and emotional design,” said Jeffrey Schmoyer, VP Global Insights for Firmenich. “Consumers are more inclined to try something unfamiliar to them, such as kombucha or a cashew yogurt, if it’s flavoured in a way they can connect with on an emotional level. We see blueberry playing a bigger role in the coming years in helping product developers introduce new food concepts around the world.”

Blueberry flavour provides a dependable and stable foundation to build on, making it a perennial favourite within the flavour community. It not only pairs well with other flavours, it also stands up on its own.

“Classic blueberry is a fantastic flavour to work with because it’s robust and multi-faceted,” said Eric Tang, a flavourist at Firmenich who has been responsible for many of the company’s biggest blueberry wins in recent years. “Blueberry has stand out floral notes and distinct tanginess, with fresh green and sweet elements woven in. Besides the classic pairings you find with blueberry, I’m also drawn to pairing it with less obvious matches, such as black tea or habanero.”

In the culinary world, long gone are the days when berries were relegated to supporting roles in salads or dressings. Today, blueberries are found in countless savoury items, including pizzas, grain bowls, and meat dishes. “Blueberries can even be used in noodles as a good source of vitamin C and for colour,” said Oana Ocico, VP of Firmenich’s Global Savoury Business. She adds: “through Culinary Anthropology, the Firmenich Chef Designers have created a series of delicious and novel ideas that can inspire our clients and their consumers to bring more blueberry to their creations.”

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