The global company – headquartered in Illinois, US, with manufacturing facilities in six countries and R&D outlets in 10 – has developed flavors for all sectors of the food and beverage industry since 1912.
The company employs research based on consumer and market insights – as well as new and emerging trends – to develop on trend flavors to allow its customers to create products that will appeal to today’s on-the-go, health-focused consumer.
“These days it’s about healthy snacking,” Agneta Hoffman, team leader of Marketing Flavors for EMEA, told BakeryandSnacks at Snackex – held in Barcelona, Spain, in June.
“People want to eat more healthy but still have the whole taste experience. So, combining both is really key to have a successful product on the market that consumers will like and prefer.”
According to Hoffman, 20% of Bell’s workforce is employed in R&D, developing applications for various sectors, including beverages, sweet, savory and dairy.
“We [host] customer visits on a regular basis, but also invite them to innovation sessions where we present the latest market developments and dynamics – not only from a volume or value perspective – but also from a consumer perspective. ‘What’s driving people to buy food and beverages? What’s the next trend? The next macro trend? Or even the next mega trend?’”
Popcorn becomes a superfood
To illustrate, the company showcased a snacking menu at Snackex that took around nine months to develop, which concentrated on a range of trends, including superfood seasonings for popcorn, which consumers see as the healthier snack nowadays, said Hoffman.
Popped kernels were dressed in Sweet Papaya & Pomegranate and Salty Seaweed, Matcha & Ginger.
“We also [created] some very authentic seasonings, including a Bengal pepper extract and a Nepal pepper extract.
“It’s something totally different. It has a kind of tingling effect. It also has some nuances of grapefruit, so it’s very exotic and I think, one of the best concepts we have on the trend trade show right now.”
Pairing at its best
Foodie cultures ‘with a twist’ saw the company pairing Craft Beers with BBQ; Paprika with Goat Cheese and Salt & Vinegar with Mango. For the brave, it presented Chilli & Lime seasoned insect snacks served with a cilantro salsa.
Bell also explored culinary street food seasonings to remind consumers of adventurous holidays, such as Asia’s ubiquitous Chicken Satay.
Flavor inspiration from the Pacific Rim area of the world, too, is becoming increasingly in-demand with consumers and Bell was on hand to deliver exotic seasonings like Poke Bowl and Togarashi, a popular Japanese spice mix.
The next best thing?
Hoffman believes trends still point in the culinary direction, so “having the next variety of a very unique restaurant experience will always be on trend.”
Earlier this year, Whole Foods predicted flavor inspirations from the Pacific Rim area of the world would be big hit in 2019 and Hoffman believes this will continue to grow in popularity, particularly in Western European markets.