Private label brands are at the forefront of innovation and diversification, with retailers able to explore interesting concepts and get them onto their shelves in a short time frame. This is according to Alexander Lichter, VP Sales EMEA at flavors supplier Symrise, which is exhibiting at the PLMA private label trade show in Amsterdam. At the event, which concludes today, the company is presenting concepts that food manufacturers can use to offer “conscious nutrition with full flavor.”
“One thing is clear. What private label has been before – copying the big brands and offering ‘me toos’ on a lower price layer – has completely changed,” Lichter notes. Agile operators are allowing private label brands to operate at the forefront of innovation and diversification. “The root to the shelf is by far shorter than if you were a brand manufacturer who has to conduct consumer studies, etc., and it can take a few years before its released, and then you need to go to the retailer to sell it. Retailers can explore interesting concepts and get them onto their shelves in a short time frame,” he notes.
Symrise is demonstrating what variety on supermarket shelves can look like for conscious consumers: low- or non-alcoholic variants of popular beverages; modern, low-calorie ready meals, and snacks and solutions for products with alternative and plant proteins. In concrete terms, the company is presenting its natural offerings in various product categories, in keeping with the slogan “Experience Nature’s Taste.”
“Indulgence is important to consumers, but also health & nutrition. We eat and drink for nourishment but also for pleasure and fun,” Lichter stresses. As well as addressing these demands, increased diversification is also leading to its own challenges. “The way this is done, we can see consumers are looking for individualization and the market becomes far more diverse that it was before,” he notes.
The role for the flavor sector in overcoming the formulation challenges of reduced sugar, salt and fat-containing products is entering a new phase. “Less sweeteners can mean less body and mouthfeel but people don’t want to budge on this. Good taste makes a product fly, or die. If you deal with these challenges, you need to master the application in a way that the reduced product can taste as good as – or better – as the full fat/sugar version,” he says.
This dynamic is inspiring innovation at the flavor supplier. “We can reduce 20 percent salt in meat applications, which hardly anybody else can do. For a children’s sausage, for example, this is very interesting. We will focus on pushing this further and keep the promise of the natural mastery in mind,” he notes.
In terms of flavor trends, Lichter highlights a broadening of international and regional options, with Middle Eastern and oriental flavors mainly trending in Europe right now. “As an example, when it comes to meat seasonings and marinades and snacks, savory foods, there is a lot of shawarma influence from the Middle East and Turkey. This is linked to the more diverse population here, but it is also finding its way into the European daily diet and people are asking for these flavors,” says Lichter. Sicilian Blood Orange and Thai Lime are tips for the beverage sector, he adds.
Symrise is addressing several key trends at this year’s PLMA.
Celebration without remorse
Teenagers and young adults are increasingly turning to non-alcoholic drinks when they spend time together. A reason is their increased health-consciousness and awareness of their own images on social media. Beverage manufacturers can expand their product range to reach this customer group, winning them over with ideas about natural, non-alcoholic and low-alcohol flavors. Symrise offers various solutions for celebration without intoxication. This is particularly interesting with regard to the highly popular special – and often regional – craft beers since non-alcoholic variants of these beverages are difficult to produce.
Symrise’s natural hop extracts make non-alcoholic beers possible that have the characteristic bitter-tart flavor of an Indian Pale Ale. Lovers of cocktails will also find what they’re looking for: With its long experience in distillation and flavor extraction processes, Symrise has created a juniper-based raw material that affords a gin and tonic flavor even when the beverage contains little or no gin.
Products based on alternative and vegetable proteins are very popular. Consumers want to reduce their meat consumption while eating a diet that is high-protein, nutritionally conscious and sustainable. At the same time, all components such as taste, consistency and appearance must meet consumers’ requirements for meat-free or meat-reduced foods. When it comes to vegetarian and vegan foods, Symrise is taking innovative paths by creating compelling taste profiles for meatless meatballs, falafel, etc. Symrise is thus satisfying the global demand for meat-free alternatives and providing taste profiles with an enjoyment factor.
Organic convenience foods on the advance
Organically grown and processed products are currently among the most important nutritional trends. Symrise brings its expertise in the processing of herbs and vegetables to bear with its vegetable couscous, creating an intense, healthy and pleasurable experience that requires simple preparation and has an all-natural taste.
What applies to main meals has also reached the world of snacks. The demands of many customers are increasing, and foods with less sugar and more flavor varieties are very popular. Crackers with coconut and sesame seeds with a sugar and salt glaze provide an unexpected and well-rounded combination that is made from all-natural ingredients. Symrise is also rethinking the classic granola bar: the carrot-orange bar contains 30 percent less sugar than comparable products and is also a proven provider of vitamin A.
By Laxmi Haigh & Robin Wyers
Source: Food Ingredients First
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