Fireside Chat Trends
Elevating Flavor & Color Experiences
In this Fireside Chat, Jen Zhou, Global Senior Director, Product Marketing, discusses how trends and technological advancements are revolutionizing how we experience colors and flavors in food and beverages.
2024 Flavor and Color Outlook
A Taste of the Future
Recently, ADM’s Jen Zhou, Global Senior Director of Product Marketing sat down with Lisa Schofield, Commercial Editor at Food Navigator, for a 10-minute chat about how brands can leverage trends and technology to tell a story through their products. Watch the video of that discussion above and find a summary of their conversation below.
1. How did ADM identify the flavor and color trends we'll be talking about today?
We used a multidisciplinary approach to look at trends from different angles. We've done field research in different markets. We’ve engaged our global culinary team. We have a group called Trend Xplorers, our employees on the ground, hunting for trends wherever they happen. And, of course, we're using all different kinds of third-party research and technology to look at the different data streams that can help guide the data that informs our choices. So, it's a balance of human and sensory inputs as well as data.
2. With AI technology advancing many industries specifically, how did it come into play in shaping your flavor and color trend report?
Nobody can underestimate or under-emphasize how AI is changing our world, and, my world being flavors specifically, we see that influence come into play. How it came into play in our research was using AI as that data collection tool. With so many different streams of different types of products and flavors, I can’t make a list of all the flavors that exist. But AI has the power to distill down from that large scale to bite-sized pieces of information that we as humans can then use our organoleptic senses of smell and taste and aroma. We need that human element to bring that idea to life. I think while we can't underestimate the power of AI, we're also engaging with our senses and our memories as humans of the flavors that we love.
3. What are the key concerns that consumers have going into this year, and how are they reflected in the trends that you identify?
With all of these pressures and anxieties around the world, people still want a moment of escape. They want a moment to not think about all of those things. And so one of the trends that we talk through is something called luxe self-expression. We still want to have amazing experiences and have those speak to our emotions and our current emotional and physical needs, and that's kind of in contrast to affordability. But manufacturers are finding innovative ways to bring that to life regardless.
4. What relationship exists between the consumer trends and ADM's flavor and color technologies?
So it's amazing to see how, again, consumer needs are shifting and changing. And the wonderful thing about flavor is that consumer palates are always changing. We've seen an evolution of people liking tropical fruit, what were formerly known as exotic fruits. Not only are those flavor profiles becoming more authentic because people have access to them, but also the fresh fruit. They know what a passion fruit tastes like instead of what a product tastes like. So there's a level of authenticity that needs to be brought there. The technologies that ADM has for flavor help enable those true experiences in terms of bringing what consumers are looking for and executing what that tastes like in their mouths. One great example is we've done so much consumer work around citrus, and what we discovered is citrus is one of the most beloved fruits across the entire globe. Everybody knows a type of citrus fruit and has their favorite. The devil is in the details of how you make that experience to every global consumer of their favorite citrus. How do you make that authentic? How do you make what they desire? And do some research. We discovered that American consumers want bold citrus, and our European consumers want fresh and bright citrus. We have a technology called Corefold™ made from a specific proprietary process that brings that bold and bright flavor to life. It’s amazing to see how ADM’s technologies engage to not only answer that consumer need but, again, that desire for bold and fresh flavor. We're not just talking about the trends; we're executing them.
5. With that in mind, how can manufacturers apply these trends to specific products and brands?
So, in terms of our manufacturers, I think we're going to see them looking for all different kinds of solutions. Solutions to make these flavor profiles more authentic or more real to a consumer, making a product experience over the top. One of the things that we call out in our report is the way that social media is transforming experiences. Things you see on YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram, consumers want to buy those...tomorrow. I think it is something that manufacturers are going to need in terms of the technologies, solutions, and formulations to make them more affordable, and that's something that every manufacturer is going to be looking at across the world. It's really going to take not just price cutting. It's a dance, a formulation of how we can optimize an entire formula, not just a flavor, not just a protein, or a specific ingredient. How do you optimize the entire process of manufacturing the packaging of all the different ingredient balances to get to that affordable solution for a consumer? There are many ways that manufacturers will bring those to life.