Eunese Shaw Brent, director of brand management for Sodexo Culinary Solutions revealed the launch of the bread flavors was based on new market research.
“2016 flavor forecasts indicated an affinity towards exploring through tastes and how new twists on classics can build a bridge between the familiar and the unknown – encouraging trial,” she explains.
It’s in the way that you flavor it
Boasting more than 100 locations across the US, sandwich retailer SubConnection rolled out its new bread flavors this fall with Maple Bacon and Jalapeno Cheddar as feature flavors in limited offer promotions.
Additional flavors being introduced by Sodexo include Old Bay Cheddar, Roasted Garlic & Parmesan, Salt & Pepper, Sriracha & Orange Peel, Thai, Buffalo, Parmesan Herb, Pretzel, White Wheat, Southwest White Wheat, Rolled Oat White Wheat and Everything.
The flavor profiles were developed in partnership with world food solutions leader Rich’s and global flavor leader McCormick over a period of two months.
“Our new bread flavors reinvigorate the everyday sandwich and provide consumers experiences that reflect their lifestyles,” said Brent. “Maple Bacon and Sriracha Orange Peel stand at opposite ends of the spectrum: one evokes nostalgia while the other touches on a new trend,” she added.
A total of 16 flavors were developed and Sodexo selected the 10 most popular for the initial rollout, while other flavors are on hold for future rollouts.
The early ideation was done by Sodexo’s culinary development team at McCormick’s test kitchen in Baltimore, Maryland, followed by final development in Sodexo’s own Culinary Innovation Center. The breads were then tested at an on-site SubConnection café for consumer acceptability.
The idea behind the range of flavors is to help SubConnection “to address/avoid menu fatigue” by bringing an exciting range of tastes while expanding consumer choice and driving frequency.
Bread at a premium?
While bread is one of the most commonly consumed types of food in the entire food industry, it may not be the first one that springs to mind in terms of innovativeness.
Yet, consumers tend to be novelty seeking when it comes to bread, much more so than the typical food category, explains Tom Vierhile, Innovation Insights director at Canadean.
“A 2016 Canadean survey found that one-third of American consumers said they “often” try new or different varieties of bread. This put bread in the number four spot among more than 30 different food types for novelty-seeking behavior,” he said.
As a result, consumers “are likely to be receptive to the introduction of new bread flavors”, even though this category is seen as more conservative in terms of flavor innovation.
“Flavors like Old Bay Cheddar, Sriracha & Orange Peel, and Buffalo are quite novel for a category that more typically sees flavor innovation limited to different types of grain or old standbys like garlic or cinnamon,” Vierhile said.
Another benefit of the flavored bread strategy pursued by Sodexo is that these types of breads may be motivate consumers to shift towards the higher end of the price scale. Only about 9% of consumers say they usually buy bread products at the premium or highest end of the price range, according to a 2014 Canadean survey.