Foodservice flavors fuel retail innovation


CHICAGO — Pink is a color that communicates the fun, optimism and comfort of childhood, according to Lizzy Freier, director of menu research and discoveries for Technomic, Chicago, a business unit of Winsight, LLC. It’s also one of three flavor trends fueling menu innovation this year, which should have consumer packaged goods manufacturers following suit in the coming months.

What does pink taste like? Ms. Freier referred to chewing gum, maraschino cherry and everything else. Pink ingredients she identified as on the rise included strawberry puree, ranch sriracha, dragon fruit, berry sauce, pomegranate glaze, hibiscus, sockeye salmon, poke and sumac.

“In 2023, prepare to be tickled pink,” Ms Freier said. “Many foods and beverages are colored pink, both sweet and savory…fruits, proteins, condiments and spices.”

Think pink sea salt, pink pineapple, and pink-eyed polka dots. Acai, beets, dragon fruits and radishes fall in space. Some lesser-known pink dishes include acara oranges, schisandra berries, bissap, and watermelon radish.

Starbucks is on it. Since the summer of 2017, the chain has put the Pink Drink on its menu, made with strawberries and acai with accents of passion fruit, all combined with coconut milk. Some might attribute the growing trend to this drink. That’s kind of what Starbucks did with the limited-time Unicorn Frappuccino which was introduced in April 2017. It consisted of ice, milk, pink powder, sour blue powder, Frappuccino cream syrup, mango syrup and blue drizzle.

Just like the unicorn – as well as confetti and birthday cakes – the flavors have made their way into retail packaged foods. It is expected that pink will also be trending. Pink is the perfect limited time offer (LTO) across many product categories.

Dave’s Gourmet LLC, San Francisco, has partnered with Chef Pii, the creator of The Pink Sauce and a popular social media influencer, to market the condiment. It is described as a milder version of ranch with a bit of heat.

“Our R&D team was able to reformulate the sauce to match Chef Pii’s exact color and flavor profile for the product and at the same time change some of the ingredients to make the sauce less complicated,” said David Neuman, President of Dave’s Gourmet’s. “Audiences will eventually receive a stable version of the sensational sauce Chef Pii has dreamed up in her Miami kitchen.”

Jade Steger, Marketing Director of Dave’s Gourmet, said: “This product is not just a social media phenomenon, but actually enhances the food it is used as a condiment with. People are intrigued by its bright pink color and unique taste. It can be paired with almost any savory food, creating playful visual appeal and enhancing the flavor of the dish.

Pink as a color and flavor is all about pleasure. Soumya Nair, global director of research and consumer insights, Kerry, Beloit, Wis., said that when people face financial challenges and health anxieties, food provides an opportunity for a “delicious escape.” “.

This is what pink can do in 2023.

“While comfort will underpin any dining experience in the coming recession outlook, there will be a desire for ‘mini-escapes,'” Ms Nair said. “Adventure and indulgence have taken on new meaning in today’s uncertain economy. Consumers seek achievable and playful adventures through unlikely combinations, familiar food and drink mixes, fusion cuisines and unconventional flavor pairings.

Moreover, social media is influencing food and drink trends at a rapid pace. What is happening in the restaurant business can make its debut in retail through the use of OLTs, which creates an urgency for consumers to buy due to the short availability of the product.

“New recipes, premium food and beverage creations, dressed in abundant inclusions and toppings, glitter and vibrant nuggets that have an element of familiarity draw consumers’ curiosity,” said Ms. Nair. “’Eat with your eyes’ is truer this year than in the past. Visually vibrant food and drinks using ingredients such as beets, dragon fruit, matcha, sprinkles, lustrous dust, inspire not only drinks and cocktails, but also pastas and pies.

What’s old is new

Sean McLendon, vice president of research and development, product development and innovation at Farmer Focus, Harrisonburg, Va., and a chef named James Beard, agreed.

“You eat with your eyes first and you taste with your senses,” McLendon said. “If you can see it and it tells a story in the product name, consumers are attracted to the product.”

He believes in taking the familiar and adding a twist. That’s the goal of Farmer Focus pre-seasoned chicken products. The company takes cuts of chicken and adds a culinary twist. It’s about bringing the restaurant experience into the retail environment and communicating with the customer by emphasizing inclusions and seasonings.

The company is presenting three options for the Super Bowl, which will be held on February 12. There are Honey Jalapeño Chicken Wings, Black Garlic Ginger Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, and Caribbean Jerk Seasoned Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast.

Pickling is also on the pink continuum, including pickling fruits and vegetables such as red onions, beets, and watermelon wedges.

“Marinating and fermenting preparations are having a moment,” Ms. Freier said. “Not only do the preparations promote preservation and health connotations, especially gut health, but they also allow for many unique culinary experiments. We expect marinating to expand everywhere from protein to fries to herbs, nuts and even pickles on pizza.

The third flavor trend in foodservice, according to Ms. Freier, is the emphasis on cereal taste. This complements the evolutionary trend of plants toward minimally processed whole foods.

“Operators are heading into the grain,” she said. “They are a game-changer as a way to innovate without breaking the bank.”

Trending tastes include English muffin pizza and focaccia French toast. Old grains are also being served in new ways for all parts of the day, including desserts and breakfast bowls. They are the focal point of the dish and contribute color, flavor, nutrition and texture.



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