Firmenich backs cucumber for 2017

20 Dec 2016

Firmenich has announced cucumber as the 2017 ‘Flavour of the Year’, noting the growing demand for refreshing, clean, and healthy food and beverages that is driving cucumber’s surge in popularity.

Firmenich backs cucumber for 2017

Firmenich has announced cucumber as the 2017 ‘Flavour of the Year’ based on what it says is the growing appeal of this refreshing flavour.

According to Chris Millington, President of Firmenich’s Flavour Division, the growing demand for refreshing, clean, and healthy food and beverages is driving cucumber’s surge in popularity.

“Our trend insights show that consumers are really enjoying lighter, refreshing ‘green’ flavours, such as cucumber,” he said. “We anticipate and respond to these needs by continuing to deliver healthy and novel taste solutions to match.” Painting a broad picture, Millington adds: “Vegetables in general are becoming more accepted as flavours and ingredients, sometimes even replacing fruit in traditionally sweet categories such as ice cream and cereal. This is why we predict that 2017 will really see the mild cucumber become a big-hitting new favourite.”

At first glance, the cucumber may appear to be just a simple salad staple, Firmenich notes, yet it is gaining traction around the world, with a 392% increase in the use of cucumber as a flavour globally between 2011 and 2016. In recent years, the company says cucumber has appeared everywhere from potato chips and confection, to yogurt and dumplings. As well as delivering a healthy clean, taste, the natural notes of cucumber reflect the new shift in consumer preferences toward products that offer a sense of well-being and refreshment in a busy, stressful world, the company believes.

This new landscape is opening up creative and delicious uses for cucumber, according to William Moldt, Senior Flavourist at Firmenich.

“I love working with cucumber and find its adaptability inspiring,” he said.“Our customers never tire of its fresh, green and juicy notes and there is really no limitation on what we can create with cucumber.”

Cucumber’s growth has also influenced the product development within Firmenich’s Savoury team.

“The rise in cucumber can be attributed to its strong emotional link to freshness,” said Matthew Walter, Head of Culinary at Firmenich. “Its ability to ‘accept’ other flavours essentially turns it into a blank canvas, allowing total creative freedom for a chef.”

As the demand for natural flavours such as cucumber increases, Firmenich says it’s important that the company does its part to ensure its flavours are sustainable.

“At Firmenich, we develop and manufacture our own natural green notes from sustainable sources, this helps support the growing demand for natural fruit and vegetable flavours,” said Stephanie Salord, Director of Ingredient Innovation at Firmenich. “Some of these green notes are materials that we keep for our flavourists only. For example, Pulpanat, as its name suggests, enhances the pulpy character of fruits and vegetables to drive even more fresh sensations.”Firmenich predicts that cucumber’s popularity will grow throughout 2017 because of its relevance to three global meta-trends that the company is monitoring: namely refreshment, health and natural, and fermentation and pickling.”

In recent years, Firmenich notes that refreshment has become a major driver in many beverage and sweet goods categories and cucumber perfectly matches this new desire. Cucumber enhances the refreshing characteristics of whatever it is used in, and as a result has become a “go-to” flavour for product developers, the company said. Most often used as one of a pair, cucumber adds a twist to standard flavours such as apple, mint, lemon and lime while increasing the energizing characteristics of a food or beverage. It also adds a touch of sophistication to otherwise simple products and flavourists have embraced the versatility it provides. The green, watery characteristics of cucumber are said to marry well with fruits, herbs and citrus and are universal drivers of freshness not only in beverages but also in dairy and savoury products.

According to Firmenich, consumers today actively seek products that contain natural flavours and ingredients and which are associated with health and wellness. Cucumbers have long been used as a natural way to heal ailments, from reducing puffy eyes to hydrating skin. Its use as a digestion aid and to reduce the effects of alcohol further drive popularity. Incorporating cucumber into food and beverage products taps into the consumer’s desire to have products that not only taste good, but are also good for them, the company believes.

Cucumber reinforces another growing trend, says the company: that of pickling. Pickling is the process of preserving or extending the shelf life of food by either fermentation or immersion in vinegar. Pickling as a culinary and health trend has been on the rise for many years, and today, fermented food is recognized as beneficial for gut health. Cucumbers have been used in this process for centuries and with the fermentation trend showing no sign of slowing, cucumbers are a trend-follower’s perfect match.

Firmenich says it believes in the vast potential of cucumber. Its ability to cut across segments and geographies, and meet so many of the needs of today’s consumers, gives cucumber longevity. This, coupled with its unassuming coolness, makes it a flavour that will be difficult to top in the years to come, the company concludes.