Healthy snacking

Eat the rainbow: ADM expects consumers to explore beyond their palate's comfort zones in 2021

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

ADM predicts that botanicals, edible flowers and global spices are likely to grow in popularity in the year ahead. Pic: GettyImages/Alex Raths
ADM predicts that botanicals, edible flowers and global spices are likely to grow in popularity in the year ahead. Pic: GettyImages/Alex Raths

Related tags Adm Colours Flavours Healthy snacks

Colour plays a vital role in delighting the senses, differentiating flavour expectations and aiding in taste perceptions. It also adds to consumer’s assessment of the snack’s ‘health halo’, writes Marie Wright, president of Creation, Design and Development and chief global flavourist at ADM.

Taste is the primary driver of food purchasing decisions – consistently out-pacing other factors like price, healthfulness, convenience and sustainability – yet tasty snacks might stay on the shelf and be overlooked by consumers if they don’t offer visual appeal.

Food psychology

Consumers are also increasingly taking a more proactive approach to nourishing their body and mind, and the psychology of flavours and colours has never been more important.

On the one end of the spectrum, citrus flavours and bright colours are uplifting, prompting feelings of happiness and excitement. Mint is also a signalling ingredient, often associated with refreshing and awakening attributes. Meanwhile, blue hues evoke calming feelings, especially when paired with botanicals like lavender and chamomile.

Comforting and familiar flavours like vanilla, chocolate, caramel, nutmeg, coffee and tea can be paired with soothing neutral tones. Vanilla is in particularly high demand, as it’s a key component of comforting treats cakes, cookies and pastries.

Peppermint and chocolate is a popular nostalgic combination, especially during the holidays, while cookies and cream has a year-round comfort appeal.

Additionally, heat-inducing ingredients such as cinnamon and allspice are associated with physiological stress reduction.

Developing bakery and snack products that tick all the boxes for flavour and colour appeal starts with insight to trending consumer behaviours. Here are a few examples that will give bakers an edge.

Trend: Clean labels

As shoppers select more products with clean labels, many are avoiding artificial flavours and colours.

According to ADM Outside Voice research, 62% of consumers actively avoid artificial colouring, and this number is growing.

Plant-based and naturally sourced colourings are found around the globe, from the huito fruit in Peru’s Amazon region to turmeric from India and elderberry in Europe. Many of these natural colours can allow for desirable label attributes including organic, kosher, halal and clean label claims.

Trend: Health & immune function

Research from FMCG Gurus also shows that 57% of global consumers report increased concern about their immune system because of COVID-19, meaning that flavours and colours that signal health and immune function support will likely gain traction in the coming year.

Wholesome ingredients that sport naturally rich colours and intense flavours complement a snack’s enhanced nutritional profile. For example, cherry and cranberry are common ingredients in snack bars. Their deep red colour and tart flavour signal perceptions of improved mood and enhanced well-being.

Orange and other citrus notes are closely associated with vitamin C and antioxidants that have been proven to support immune function. Turmeric, too, is associated with positive effects on inflammation.

Green is a sign of fresh, plant-based ingredients like mint and soybeans, while blueberries and elderberries add eye-catching blue and purple overtones to snacks, along with their naturally occurring vitamins and antioxidants.

Culinary adventure

With the pandemic continuing to curtail travel, people are looking to global flavours for a sense of culinary adventure at home.

We predict consumers will explore beyond their palate's comfort zones in 2021 and we anticipate an increased desire for more exotic and unusual flavours, such as pink grapefruit, yuzu, mandarin, pomelo, kumquat and kaffir lime. Botanicals, edible flowers and global spices are also likely to grow in popularity in the year ahead.

A rainbow of shades and an array of flavours will wow shoppers with next-level bakery and snack products.

However, high quality natural ingredients and blends require the technology and expertise to overcome the toughest development challenges, including processing, packaging, shelf-life, cost and regulatory challenges. Creating consumer-preferred products takes a team of experienced professionals, including growers all over the world, food designers, culinary experts, food scientists and production engineers.

Having the right formulation and technical partners are critical to maximizing visual and taste appeal that captures and holds consumer attention for better-for-you snacks.

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