Stronger and bolder flavor combinations are emerging in soft drinks with higher heat and spice levels, while vegetable-based beverages are on the rise, according to Treatt.
And Douglas Rash, VP of global sales at the ingredient supplier, tells BeverageDaily.com he sees especial promise in these areas for the firm’s new Treattarome flavoring distillates.
Derived from natural food, the distillates are extracted using short duration/low temperature distillation, and Treatt claims they reflect the character of the original fresh food.
“The products are already sold to a wide array of customers across North America, Europe and Asia, as well as Latin America,” Rash says.
“However, as a result of the growing ‘veggie’ trend, these products have moved from niche beverages to mainstream products,” he adds. “We continue to see this building momentum.”
‘Earthy green impact of jalapeno peppers’
To date, demand has primarily stemmed from the flavored alcoholic drinks, dairy-based drinks and flavored waters segments, Rash reveals.
Jalapeno Treattarome 9816, for instance, suited alcoholic beverage, he says, “as it delivers the earthy green impact of jalapeno peppers without the heat”.
Cucumber Treattarome, on the other hand, suits everything from juices to alcoholic beverages, he says, “imparting a subtle fresh, green note at low levels to a characteristic cucumber flavor at higher usage levels”.
Treatt’s distillates can also be combined, and Rash mentions unusual combinations developed for customers – including Green Bell Pepper and Tahitian Lime, Roasted Bell Pepper with Mango and Peach and Watermelon Ginger.
He says Treatt is seeing the biggest growth in demand for vegetable-based beverages from the US and Asia, but also increased interest in Asia – including China and Japan.
Vegetable juice sales soar in China, Japan, North America
This tallies with research published today by Canadean, which says that these two countries account for 55% of the total vegetable juice market, followed by North America on 18% and Eastern Europe with 18%.
Despite tipping these regions for strong growth, Canadean beverage analyst Javier Gutierrez says the rise of vegetable beverages will be slower in global terms, “affected by decreasing volumes in Europe where premium prices and low availability are limiting the segment’s development”.
Asian growth aside, Canadean tips North America and Latin America to lead the vegetable beverage charge, given recent launches that claim they include nutritional and healthy properties.
Gutierrez says that, in the US, vegetable flavors grew significantly in 2012 due to the impact of brands including Evolution Fresh (Starbucks) and Bolthouse Farms extending distribution.
Vegetable variants outperformed tomato-juice based drinks, he says, adding that it was likely this trend would continue into the future.
Such drinks have ‘healthy halo’ but is it deserved?
Treatt is tapping this vegetable trend driven by consumer health and wellness concerns, but why would anyone prefer a vegetable flavor in their beverage to the real thing?
“While not delivering any additional health benefits, natural distillates are an important resource for food and beverage manufacturers looking to appeal to shoppers who want healthy, yet flavorful beverages,” Rash says.
“Natural distillates can help to develop hard-to-match flavor profiles and are frequently used to add exceptional top note characteristics at low dosage levels to existing formulations, where manufacturers are looking to either extend or deepen the flavor of a beverage product,” he adds.
Salty-sweet flavor profiles emerge
Discussing flavour trends more generally, Rash says the global market for savory flavors and seasonings in food and beverages has grown almost $2bn in the past five years, according to consultancy RTS.
“The rise in popularity of vegetable-based beverages is a good example of the ways in which savory flavors can be used in applications where traditionally consumers have had a preference for sweet tastes,” Rash says.
“This does not mean the end of the road for sweet products, however. There is even some crossover…for example, the launch of products with a salty-sweet flavor profile,” he adds.