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Formulating flavorful, healthier indulgences for at-home consumers

Formulating flavorful, healthier indulgences for at-home consumers.jpg
Frozen desserts and bakery indulgences such as breads, cakes and desserts are among the foods consumers are enjoying at home.

As consumers spend more time at home these days, sales growth has been strong for comfort food categories such as frozen desserts and baked goods. However, consumers are also increasingly focused on overall wellness and finding balance when indulging. With some creativity in formulation, brands can achieve preferred flavors in healthier versions of everyone’s favorite treats.

According to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the average American eats more than 23 pounds of ice cream each year. However, this year, that average may be even higher. Several major brands have seen rising sales during the past two quarters. Unilever, maker of the Breyers, Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum brands, saw a 26% increase in at-home ice cream sales in the second quarter of 2020.

High-intensity sweeteners such as stevia are effective at reducing the total calories and sugar content in desserts like ice cream. However, these sweeteners have a different flavor profile, texture and volume than table sugar. Flavor modulation helps to overcome these differences. Flavoring agents can round out high-intensity sweeteners while minimizing additional calories.

Formulators should also look to natural flavors for ice cream. Consumers associate natural flavors with health and wellness. While real, natural vanilla is the No.1 ice cream flavor, other natural flavors such as chamomile, tea, chai, botanicals and tropical fruit can appeal to consumers’ sense of adventure and excitement.

Supermarkets and in-store bakeries are also experiencing high interest from consumers. Bakery sales spiked as states began implementing shutdown orders.

Likewise, at-home baking has seen explosive growth this year, especially in breads, cakes and desserts. For example, General Mills’ U.S. Meals and Baking segment grew net sales by an astonishing 75% in its most recent quarter. Do-it-yourself mixes are a growth category in which brands can differentiate by gearing products toward health-conscious consumers.

To read this article in its entirety, check out the Winning strategies for natural colors and flavors – digital magazine.

With a decade of flavor and ingredient industry experience, Philip Caputo leads marketing and consumer insight development at Virginia Dare, a distinguished flavor and extract company. Caputo, and Virginia Dare, helps brands turn ideas into innovative products with tasteful formats and flavors. Caputo has worked in the flavor industry for 10 years, with previous roles at Hagelin Flavors and Frutarom USA. He graduated with a business marketing degree from Manhattan College.

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