The American palate is more welcoming of exotic, ethnic flavors but snack innovation must go beyond just hot and spicy, says Snyder’s-Lance innovation head.
The US snack company - whose brands include Cape Cod, Lance and Pretzel Chips - has rolled out a series of new snacks across its brand portfolio, including bite-size corn snacks Korn Krunchers, Lance Bolds sandwich crackers and Cape Cod waffle cut kettle chips – all with a clear focus on flavor. The firm has also developed flavor extensions for its pretzel crisps, potato chips and crackers.
Discussing the new product developments, Eric Van De Wal, vice president of marketing innovation for Snyder’s-Lance, said the aim was to meet consumer demands on exotic and unusual flavor combinations.
“It is clear that the American palate has changed in the last decade and continues to change today. Flavors once thought of as exotic, or ethnic, are now part of our mainstream,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“This fact is clearly seen on the shelves of almost any food retailer. Spicy, bolder, more flavorful foods are the fastest growing products across many segments with the food industry. Bold flavored snack foods have seen especially robust popularity and growth,” he said.
He said that Snyder’s had invested in flavor innovation over the past year in a bid to keep current consumers happy but also draw in new interest.
Innovating beyond mainstream
The Snack Food Association (SFA) and European Snacks Association (ESA) both described 2013 as a spicy year for snack s with the biggest flavor trend being ‘hot’, driven by “daring consumers” and influence from Hispanic foods.
However, Van De Wal said Snyder’s aimed to innovate beyond mainstream demands.
“We do not simply want to do what every manufacturer does and simply turn up the heat with tried and true spices. We developed very creative bold flavor combinations that bring exciting, authentic flavors and not just heat,” he said.
Some of the flavors Snyder’s has developed include honey mustard & onion, hot buffalo wing, salted caramel, Back Bay crab seasoning and Asiago cheese & Italian herbs.
The VP of marketing innovation said that sweet and salty combinations, once considered two opposite ends of the flavor spectrum, were now “a very hot flavor trend”.
Asked if consumers had become bored of current flavor options, he said: “They are not getting bored per se; they are simply discovering the pleasure and excitement of bold and adventurous flavor combinations.”
Director-general of ESA Sebastian Emig previously told this site that he thought 2014 would be a year of more ‘unusual’ flavors as consumers become more adventurous.
Over the past year a number of snack brands have rolled out sweet and salty flavor combinations – Pringles launched a Christmas line in the UK and US that included mint chocolate and pumpkin pie spice and Frito-Lay launched chocolate-covered Wavy chips.
Kellogg’s EMEA flavor innovation head said the sweet-savory combinations in the Pringles line had drawn inspiration from Asia and aimed to appeal to traveled consumers .
Steve Osborn, business development manager at Leatherhead Food Research, said that while sweet-savory combinations were clearly on trend again, the concept was nothing new . “We’ve seen it before. It rears its head every now and then – it’s a bit like 3D films; every 20 years there is a resurgence.”