Botanical horizons: Nactis Flavours touts floral and Asian notes as key flavor themes

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04 Mar 2019 --- Botanical and floral flavors are gaining traction globally, not only for their natural and healthy image but amid a rise in demand for indulgent flavors blends combined with more traditional flavors, in bakery, dairy and beverage applications. According to Mélanie Jaloustre, Marketing Manager at Nactis Flavours, floral notes are driving NPD and part of the company’s core development alongside popular Asian flavor notes, which are frequently coming to the fore for taste innovation.

Innova Market Insights reported an average annual growth of 20 percent in food and beverage launches with “global flavors” (Global, 2013-2017), with growth in platforms such as chili, herb and floral flavors. Consumers are looking for innovative ways to take the benefits of plants into their daily lives, meanwhile, relying on decadent flavor combinations and flavors that evoke indulgence, which will likely grow and remain paramount in the industry.

Jaloustre points out that floral notes in beverages are popping up more often and the company has seen more of this in bakery and dairy applications too. “For example, cherry blossom is one to watch for 2019,” she claims. “We paired it with indulgent Chantilly cream and it worked very well. I do expect to see more NPD like this, which combines indulgence with healthy flavors. Cherry blossom is one that we don’t get much of in France, but that could change,” she tells FoodIngredientsFirst

In the French market, this flavor is becoming more popular, for example, in cookies and bars, according to Jaloustre, and “combinations with foods and other fruits or flowers such as strawberry, lotus, hibiscus, lavender and jasmine works very well indeed. These are perceived as both natural and indulgent at the same time.”

Additionally, tea and floral flavors are also gaining traction. “Several combinations are appealing to consumers – like a green or white tea with floral notes or citrus fruits,” she notes. At the forthcoming CFIA trade show (March 12-14 Rennes, France), the company has specifically developed two interesting flavor combinations; yuzu, hibiscus with ginger, and a green tea with lotus and lychee. “These combinations have been developed as something we believe would be appealing for our customers,” she continues. 

Changing tastes mean consumers are often looking for new or natural ingredients, according to Jaloustre. “Naturality is one of the most important factors that consumers are looking for when they purchase a product or when they want to try something new. Exciting flavors with natural origin are high on the agenda. So a combination of naturality, sustainability and raw materials create alluring concepts for adventurous consumers,” she explains. 

Click to EnlargeFurthermore, consumers travel more often, which frequently puts exotic flavors under the spotlight. “This year, we are focusing on Asian flavors and have developed a tasting box including ten flavors, sweet as well as sour flavors, focusing on the true tastes of Asia,” continues Jaloustre. “We have been working with trendy foods, fruits, spices and flowers that are typically Asian, as it is essential that consumers discover new taste experiences,” she adds. 

Chinese cooking is also full of complex and rich flavors and Jaloustre stresses its flavor potential. “Spices are fascinating from this area, and we don’t necessarily see or hear much about them in France. Asia also produces some very exciting fruit as well,” she says. “We see a lot of interest in bakery and pastries, as well as beverages and snacks, which are all categories which are important for us, in terms of innovation,” Jaloustre adds. 

At CFIA 2019, Nactis Flavours will unveil three innovations which aim to meet the food industry’s megatrends: naturality, sugar reduction, exoticism and the reduction of meat. In flavors, Nactis Flavours drew its inspiration from different styles of cuisine from all around the world, according to Jaloustre.

The soursop fruit flavor will be presented at the CFIA, which, Jaloustre mentions is not well-known in Europe, but has a fascinating sensory and taste profile. “We have developed and created a natural soursop flavor – it’s a green fruit which is very sweet and soft, the taste profile is between strawberry and pineapple which works very well in indulgent applications like pastries,” she says.

Between mango and lychee or strawberry and pineapple, soursop presents a fresh and sweet profile with a specific exotic taste, Jaloustre notes. The natural flavor can also be used in a wide range of applications: beverages, dairy products, biscuits and even savory products such as sauces. 

Additionally, sugar reduction is one of the most significant trends in beverages in particular, because of the introduction of sugar taxes in both France and the UK, according to Jaloustre. “We have many requests to reduce sugar in beverage applications, while maintaining the taste in the final product, as consumers opt for less sugar. Keeping the same texture in terms of mouthfeel can also be very challenging,” she states. 

To meet the growing demand for vegan food, Nactis Flavours will also present a functional mix for a vegan burger. This mix contains vegetal flour and fiber which gives the product a “perfect cohesion,” and it also contains a natural meat flavoring which brings a pleasant flavor succulence to the final product, Jaloustre says. 

“We have observed this trend for several years. Consumers are consuming less and less meat and they want alternatives that replace meat and which makes the switch appealing,” she continues. “But the alternatives must be comparable in terms of taste and texture to real meat products.”

“At CFIA, our strategy is to focus on naturality, sourcing and to talk about the Asian flavor box we developed with different flavors that focus on spices and traditional meals. In the future, we’d like to develop more tasting boxes that inspire world food trends, and perhaps botanical trends with a focus on spices, floral and plant flavors,” Jaloustre concludes. 

By Elizabeth Green

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