November 24/Chicago/Prepared Foods Magazine and Mintel International -- The new products of tomorrow certainly will not be bland, mild or boring. Looking ahead to 2009, Mintel forecasts that manufacturers will reach for exotic fruits and fresh, soothing flavors with a touch of spice to jazz up their new products. Nature-inspired aromas will also be a real hit. From food and drink to household and personal care, Mintel's leading new product expert, Lynn Dornblaser, is excited about new tastes and smells she expects to see hitting global markets soon:

"Today's manufacturer is constantly looking for those tastes and aromas that stand out and capture shoppers' imagination. By adding exotic fruits and unusual ingredients to everyday products, companies give people the opportunity to experiment and move out of their comfort zones without breaking the bank."

Mintel has identified seven flavors and three scents that will come into the limelight this year. These flavors and scents will spread across the globe, moving beyond their core market or country of origin, to become the heavy hitters of 2009.

Mintel's Flavor Forecasts for 2009
1. Persimmon -- Viewed as a unique and exotic fruit, persimmon is poised to make a major splash in food and beverage. Mintel expects companies to blend it with more common fruits, as seen in a new Japanese yogurt that contains white peaches, persimmon and apricots.

2. Starfruit -- Another unusually shaped, distinctly flavored fruit -- starfruit -- is catching on around the globe. Already seen in Flor De Hibiscus's Chutney with Star Fruit (Brazil), the exotic fruit will become a major global player in 2009.

3. Lavender -- Mintel expects lavender to move beyond the home and personal care categories and into food and beverage next year. Already seen in products such as Lindt Chocolat Provence's Lemon-Lavender Dream chocolate (Germany), lavender can be paired with more familiar ingredients to bring a naturally soothing, aromatic quality to food and drink.

4. Cactus -- Cactus is already a popular food flavor in Latin America, seen in products like Nopalia Cactus Toasts (Mexico) which contain both cactus and corn. Next year, look for manufacturers to incorporate this regional taste into new food products around the world.

5. Chimichurri -- Another classic from Latin America, chimichurri is a sauce for grilled meats, recognized for its clean, clear flavor. It has already begun to win fans in the U.S., seen in new products like Gaucho Ranch's Original Argentinean Chimichurri Steak Sauce. But soon, it should become more popular and familiar around the world.

6. Peri-Peri -- Manufacturers are always seeking the next new source of heat when it comes to food flavors. Enter peri-peri, an African hot sauce already made popular by Nando's restaurants in the United Kingdom. 2009 will be peri-peri's year to set the world alight.

7. Masala -- An extension of the curry trend from several years ago, next year's Indian-inspired flavor will be masala. Lay's has already launched India's Magic Masala Crisps, but Mintel expects the flavor to become popular globally next year.

“Overall, there continues to be a strong trend towards ingredients that can take some type of ‘natural’ position in the market, or are easy for consumers to understand,” says Dornblaser, director CPG Trends Insight, Mintel International, “products that are ‘all natural’ or have a natural focus are important to them. That is one reason, for example, why the sweetener stevia has received so much attention. It is said to be up to 300 times as sweet as sucrose but can be positioned as a natural ingredient.”

“Consumers want to understand what is in the food they eat,” says Dornblaser. “Food manufacturers can meet that need in by providing information on their products in several ways. Terms such as ‘natural’ may appear as front label claims, and the ingredients in ingredient legends can be components that consumers can understand.” For example, the term “vitamin E” is generally more consumer-friendly than “tocopherols.” However, explanations also help, says Dornblaser. For example, annatto could have the qualifier “a natural coloring” after it in the ingredient legend; ascorbic acid could be explained as “a natural preservative.”

Dornblaser listed several other ingredient trends. “‘Baobab’ may well be the super fruit for 2009. Baobab’s dried fruit pulp has been approved as a novel food ingredient by the European Union, opening the way for its use in cereal bars, smoothies and similar food products. [See http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/baobabapplicationfinal.pdf and http://www.acnfp.gov.uk/assess/fullapplics/baobab] “It seems that every year we have a hot new super fruit, and it’s time for a new one. It’s easier for consumers to make the connection between an actual fruit and what it may do for their health rather than talking about something more abstract such as ‘antioxidants.’” Additionally, food from exotic regions intrigue and interest consumers,” she adds.

Quinoa will be another hot ingredient, suggests Dornblaser. “This showed up this last year in the context of an ancient grain, but I think it has the potential to do more than some of the others.” It’s very high in protein (one supplier claims it averages 16.7%) and is a “complete protein” with all eight essential amino acids. Also, it can be used in gluten-free products. “Gluten-free is attracting an increasing number of consumers,” says Dornblaser. Although a relatively small number of consumers have been diagnosed as gluten-sensitive, many more simply believe that such products make a difference in how they feel. “For some, it may be simply a matter of a ‘placebo effect’; however, a number of consumers could be borderline gluten-intolerant, she adds. Lastly, although quinoa appeals to adventuresome cooks, it is relatively easy to prepare, like rice.

Consumers tend to understand that what they buy in a store will not necessarily be the same as what they make at home with ingredients from their kitchen cabinet. “When ingredients with somewhat technical-sounding names appear in the ingredient legend, the product can be made more consumer-acceptable if their function is explained,” says Dornblaser.

“Beauty from within” is another trend impacting ingredient use, “although companies in different parts of the worlds address this opportunity differently,” says Dornblaser. In Asia, aloe, collagen and ceramide (a type of lipid popular in topical applications) are popular in “beauty” foods and beverages. Their message is about health and beautiful skin but in the west it’s all about antioxidant and their role in skin health about healthy skin.

Additionally, such products are moving beyond very small companies that make questionable claims. “Nestle has introduced the beauty drink supplement Glowelle,” says Dornblaser. “When a product is associated with the name of such a large, respected company, it increases its credibility among consumers.” [See http://www.glowelle.com]

Mintel's Scent Forecasts for 2009
1. Spicy + Woody -- Echoing current trends in men's fragrances, Mintel expects spicy and woody scents to infiltrate the home in 2009. As most home fragrances are sweet, floral or citrus-based, manufacturers have an opportunity to launch stronger and spicier scents. These aromas alsoresonate with consumers' spicy food cravings and are in line with environmental trends.

2. Savory -- Though "meaty" and "salty" aren't words that spring to mind when thinking of fragrance, Mintel sees these scents as an area of opportunity for 2009. Tied to festive meals and salty snacks, savory scents in the home conjure up instant connotations of happiness and fulfillment.

3. Food Flavors -- Just as pomegranate moved quickly from a food and drink flavor to a non-food fragrance, Mintel expects that tomorrow's scents will closely follow new flavor trends. From spicy, hot tastes to fruity, exotic ingredients, 2009 could see many innovative new aromas for home and personal care products.

From the November 24, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash