“One order of tandoori-style chicken with an ancho chili--with a coconut twist, please.”  Not only are consumers continuing to be more and more accepting of exotic flavors, but they are now branching out and embracing non-traditional twists on these exotic flavors. According to a collaborative effort of market research by Packaged Facts and San Francisco’s Center for Culinary Development (CCD) entitled “Spices and Seasonings: Culinary Trend Mapping Report” (2007), “Spices are infiltrating menus and specialty food products, and in the process, differentiating them--attracting new customers and even adding health halos.”

“It is the hallmark ‘melting pot’ effect of U.S. consumers, from their love of ethnic flavors, that new fusions of spices are being created and used to create uniqueness in recipes,” responds Karen Manheimer, vice president, Natural Products Division, at Mastertaste, a global division of Kerry Group, plc., which develops and manufactures high-quality flavors and flavor and fragrance bases.  Mastertaste works with processors who are on the cutting edge of creating these latest flavor trends in the development of prepared foods.

Mastertaste’s Flavoresins are all-natural flavor blends that are composed of oleoresins and essential oils that ease the experimentation process for processors, with Flavoresins such as Garam Marsala, Thai Curry and Tandoori. “Now, imagine combining a Moroccan Flavoresin with non-traditional flavors such as nutmeg, traditional French spices and even butternut squash,” adds Manheimer. “Our flavorists have experimented and assisted with numerous creations to be able to guide this creative process into unique recipes with mouth appeal.” Their most popular requests have included tandoori-inspired dishes that pair traditional Indian flavors with non-traditional twists such as ancho chili, wine reductions, coconut, Asian orange and other various fruit flavors.

Currently, Mastertaste is working on several Caribbean and South American Flavoresins. A recent interesting combination was Jamaican jerk with peach, which is excellent in a meat rub or marinade. According to Scott Benn, director, Natural Products R&D, at Mastertaste, companies need to keep the target audience in mind when creating these flavors. Companies should ask, “Did they make the product for a consumer that has not yet been exposed to these more unusual, ethnic flavors?” If so, they may need to ease people into these flavors, especially with Indian and Moroccan flavors, which are relatively new to the average American consumer. For example, he suggested incorporating other, more familiar, ethnic flavors, like Hispanic or Asian, thus toning down the intensity of the ethnic flavor. Another option is adding in a common fruit flavor--such as citrus.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one third of the U.S. population is made up of minorities. Combine this with the increased international travel of Americans, and it is clear that food and beverage companies will need to appeal to their audience with high-quality and authentic products that cater to their evolving and blending of tastes. Mastertaste has at hand other resources in-house, such as their salt modulation and natural and organic flavor lines that help them to create a complete product.

--Kerry Hughes, Contributing Editor

For more information:
Mastertaste, Teterboro, N.J.
Karen Manheimer, 201-373-1111
Karen.Manheimer@Mastertaste.com www.mastertaste.com