A slew of fascinating flavor-enhancing launches across multiple categories have caught our eye over the last year, and it’s becoming evident that bold and unique flavors are very much in the limelight. There’s almost a revenge buying (or flavoring, if you will) aspect to this after consumers shed their cocoon of familiar comfort flavors post-pandemic and revel in the novelty that F&B brands can rustle up in their R&D departments.
Here’s a round-up of a handful of these products featuring interesting positioning and ingredient themes, starting with condiments and then moving on to snacks.
In September 2022, Campbell Soup launched a range of sauces under the brand name FlavorUp, featuring flavor concentrates that can be added to proteins, grain, or vegetables. This range is the company’s first major brand launch since 2016 as well as its debut into the seasoning aisle. This is expected to expand Campbell’s brand beyond just soups and broths.
The FlavorUp range is available in squeeze bottles and allows for more flavor customization across multiple dish types and portion sizes. This range is available in three flavors as of now – Rich Garlic & Herb, Savory Mushroom & Herb, and Caramelized Onion & Burgundy Wine. A major driver for this launch for Campbell is how the pandemic changed the way people eat, with consumers keen to cook more themselves and experiment more to stave off boredom from standard meal options.
Campbell’s has said that its primary target audience is Millennials and younger adult consumers who want to make restaurant-style meals but don’t have the time to spend on labor-intensive tasks like caramelizing onions or mincing garlic and also may not have multiple herbs and spices to make flavor-enhancing bases for their food. As such, these consumers don’t want to sacrifice convenience or spend too much time in the kitchen. As a new product, the choice of FlavorUp’s variants boils down to them being classic and recognizable.
New and innovative products drive consumer engagement within the ready-to-eat category in the US.
The last word in ketchup has been getting rather saucy – and VERY friendly with other condiments.
In February 2023, the company launched the Mayo Mashupz range in the UK which includes three sauces that are combos with mayonnaise: MayoRacha, MayoMust, and MayoCue. And no, we’re not expanding these – take a guess!
The range came into trend after Heinz’s ketchup and mayo mashup from 2019 became a raging hit. The company asked consumers to choose the next mayo mixes and these were the winners.
Staying on the combo train, Heinz is launching six limited-edition flavors in select restaurants in the US, including
Hatch chili ranch
Black garlic ranch
Bangin’ Brewery Mustard
These Sauce Drops will be released one every month from June till November 2023. These launches are specifically designed to appeal to adventurous eaters and those craving unique flavor experiences.
And in a go-big-or-go-home move, the company in May 2023, launched the Heinz Remix, the “first customizable and IoT-enabled digital sauce dispenser” that allows consumers to personalize their own flavor creations. This product is from the company’s foodservice division and is said to have more than 200 potential sauce combinations.
The machine is touchscreen operated, and customers can select first from a range of “bases” (at present Heinz Ketchup, Ranch, 57® Sauce, and BBQ Sauce), then select one or more “enhancers” (Jalapeño, Smoky Chipotle, Buffalo, and Mango), and finally preferred intensity level (low, medium, high).
The company has said that this will be more than just a sauce dispenser; it will be an “insights engine and business model enabler that will help Kraft Heinz understand and respond to consumer trends and flavor preferences in real-time.”
Rind Snacks + Lesser Evil Collab
For snacking consumers, the leading drivers are taste (33.5% of social media mentions), health (12.2%), price 6.9%), and diet (6.8%). The desire for new and innovative products follows diet as a driver, and is seeing high traction within snacks, growing consistently over the last four years.
Demand for new and innovative snacks is growing consistently in the US.
When it comes to novelty, not only do consumers want better-for-you claims in their snacks, they are also showing interest in better-for-the-planet claims.
A collaboration between better-for-you snack brand LesserEvil and sustainable whole-fruit snack brand RIND Snacks saw the launch of a limited edition popcorn in a piña colada flavor for the summer of 2023. The product brings together the low-cal, clean ingredients of LesserEvil’s popcorn and the upcycling chops of RIND Snacks in the form of organic coconut oil, real and upcycled coconuts, and Himalayan pink salt as the seasoning. To top it off, the product comes in a compostable bag.
This is not the two companies’ first rodeo together. In the summer of 2022, the two launched a limited edition cherry lime flavored popcorn, which used upcycled cherry and lime fruit powders from RIND as the seasoning. The use of RIND Snacks’ upcycled fruit powders to flavor the popcorn is a fascinating move as it highlights how food waste can be reduced and even capitalized on.
Upcycling is an emerging trend within snacks in the US.
LesserEvil has a number of other summertime fruit-flavored popcorn variants that are not in collaboration with RIND but would still be considered unique flavors for the popcorn space, though not for summer. This year, the seasonal flavors include lemonade and watermelon hibiscus, while in the past, the company has had grapefruit and peach mango. The unusual flavors and the limited edition/seasonal positioning increase interest in these products. Here are a few flavors that pop up in relation to popcorn based on our analysis of consumer mentions in the US. These have the potential to inform flavor innovation for popcorn over the coming years.
It is interesting to note that popcorn as a snack category is seeing significant interest growing across most drivers, except price, indicating that consumers are looking at popcorn as a tasty AND healthy snack with a lot of the right cues. It’s also worth noting that while “New & Innovative” as a driver is still not as high compared to other drivers, it is seeing significantly higher growth than the others.
These launches show that the flavor adventures are just getting started and we’re up for some tasty times ahead…
…or perhaps some interesting times, as the old curse goes. After I wrapped up this article, this little nugget dropped and I love a good righteous rant about a controversial product launch that I’ve never tasted as much as the next guy.
PepsiCo’s just launched its first condiment called Pepsi Colachup, which is a combination of Pepsi’s flagship drink and ketchup, meant to be added to hotdogs. It was launched on July 4 at four Major League Baseball stadiums, available for just one day, and has been predictably polarizing as all such limited edition flavor collabs are.
The Colachup was developed by the Culinary Institute of America. This product is made starting with a Pepsi reduction, which is then infused with a variety of ingredients such as smoked tomatoes, various spices (including cinnamon, thyme, oregano, paprika), onions, and ketchup. This is said to bring a “sweet, citrusy taste” of Pepsi to the condiment.
Watch out, Heinz, I guess.