Not that long ago I was lucky enough to attend the UK Food & Drink Industry (FDIN) taste seminar entitled ‘Everything You Need to Know About Taste But Were Too Afraid To Ask’. It was a fascinating day covering taste trends, flavour behaviours and consumer insight. It was also a great opportunity to share knowledge with other food and drink experts.
From the day, there were 5 key insights that particularly got me thinking:
HEALTH IS FASHIONABLE
This means healthiness in food no longer needs to be disguised or hidden away; instead food and drink should shout about the healthy ingredients they contain, which can be quirky and crazy as long as the product still tastes great! My favourite examples from the day were veggie bread, aloe vera yoghurts and cauliflower pizza bases.
EATING WITH OUR EYES IS BIGGER THAN EVER!
With so many people Instagramming their food, social media has now become the main portal to discovering new foods and flavours. Food and drink which is visually vibrant and energising, whilst remaining natural, has the biggest appeal, particularly amongst millennials.
THE POWER OF RED
Sticking with the theme of appearance, it has been shown that red has the power to make food appear up to 10% sweeter, whilst blue can supress appetites. This begs the question as to whether the colour of packaging could unknowingly be effecting consumers’ taste perceptions. This insight is also interesting as it could be used to help cut sugar out of products without altering consumers’ perception of taste.
HOW PRODUCTS ARE SERVED CAN ALSO AFFECT TASTE PERCEPTIONS
For example, serving food in bowls can improve perceptions of taste as the shape creates a stronger aroma hit compared to plates. Also, eating with gold or chrome cutlery can make food appear sweeter and creamier, whilst zinc and copper cutlery can give consumers more of a perceived bitter taste. This has obvious implications for the restaurant market, but could also be important for the ready meal industry – should consumers be encouraged to eat out of the container to improve overall perceptions of taste? And if so, this could create an opportunity for innovative new pack designs.
‘KOKUMI’, THE NEW JAPANESE TASTE CONCEPT
And finally, we all know of the 5 basic tastes (sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami) but now there is a 6th flavour, Kokumi. This new Japanese taste concept describes a longer lasting flavour and mouthfeel, and having tasted it at the conference I can certainly vouch for this. This is undoubtedly going to be big in the savoury market, but I think it could also play a major role in reduced sugar food and drinks. Perhaps it could have the potential to extend sweet tastes, making products seem sweeter despite containing less sugar?
Lucinda Gardner is a Senior Research Executive within the Concept & Product Team at Marketing Sciences UnlimitedSubscribe