Synergy Flavours' sports nutrition trends 2020

Baklava, carob and bergamot all feature in Synergy’s ‘Flavors of the Future’ 2020 report.

3 December 2019
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Heathy eating has emerged as one of the key drivers in NPD across a range of retail categories. From the snacking boom to the rise of gut health, the modern consumer is a more discerning and more wellness-orientated creature than perhaps ever before.

Sports nutrition has been a beneficiary of this new way of thinking with a host of new start-ups boasting widespread ranges looking to take advantage. And, as the market saturates, consumers naturally start to look for new formats and new ingredients.

In anticipation of 2020 and the continuation of healthy eating culture, Synergy Flavours, the global supplier and manufacturer of flavours, extracts and essences, have released their ‘Flavors of the Future 2020’ report, designed to help sports nutrition NPD and innovation teams formulate their future ranges with detailed flavour trend predictions for the category.

The report, which is created through a combination of ideas and inspiration from bloggers, food writers and futurologists, as well as ‘real’ data harvested from recent product launches and global search trends, discusses emerging, growing, mainstream and established flavours from across the food industry and how they might be effectively paired and translated into sports nutrition.

We’ve seen a raft of innovative products from the sports nutrition category this year, from the evolution of the protein bar to the increased popularity of granola, with Synergy utilising several predicted trends from across the sector.

Ahead of the curve

Synergy first touch on emerging trends that are still in their infancy, with baklava a standout inclusion.

A sweet Greek dessert made of honey, filo and nuts, baklava is a well-loved dessert across the Mediterranean and the Middle East and has a fair presence on the restaurant scene in the UK, with Synergy predicting that it could enter new areas of retail in the coming year, including as a flavour for sports nutrition products.   

“Baklava is poised to make the jump into the mainstream as consumer familiarity has been increasing through a combination of interest in Mediterranean cuisine and exposure through social media,” explains the report, with orange blossom, rose or maple syrup cited as effective pairing options.

Staying with sweet, the report also highlights gianduja – the chocolate/hazelnut mix most famously seen as Nutella – noting that in Italy the flavour is already employed in various formats, which could spread to the UK.

Exotic honey

‘Forest honey,’ made by bees that collect sugary deposits left by insects from the sap of pine trees, is predicted to gather traction next year.

Sugar has endured plenty of bad press in the UK, with a recent survey from Swiss sweetener brand Hermesetas revealing that 64% of 1,000 consumers believe that sugar reduction is important when they are trying to lose weight.

This is especially relevant to the sports nutrition arena, with honey often used as a ‘healthier’ alternative (although this has recently come under scrutiny by health campaigner, Action on Sugar).

Nevertheless, honey remains a popular flavour in terms of sports nutrition, with the exotic nature and unusual method behind forest honey predicted to be attractive to today’s more adventurous consumer.

Carob may also be ripe for the sports nutrition game due to its similarity to classic chocolate.  

“Carob’s familiar but unique twist to typical chocolate-flavoured products gives it the potential to really hit the mark, with consumers looking for alternatives to standard milk chocolate profiles,” says the report, recommending pairings with coffee, dark chocolate and rum.

More generally, Synergy forecast a rise in cross-category pollination in terms of sweet category flavour profiles. For example, rum and raisin could move beyond being an ice cream flavour and enter other retail categories (including sports nutrition).

Citing citrus

Bergamot – the citrus fruit most famously found as a flavour in Earl Grey tea – is yet another Mediterranean ingredient predicted to lend itself to the sports nutrition category next year.

We have seen a number of unusual citrus fruits start to emerge into mainstream over the past few years, across retail and foodservice, including sudachi and kalamansi. There’s even been talk of using citrus fibre for meat alternatives, with consumers starting to explore the diverse world of citrus fruits for alternatives to the norm.

“Globally, there is a move away from typical lemons and limes to more distinctive citrus profiles, which has led to a number of launches worldwide, featuring bergamot in a range of categories with numerous highly unique flavour combinations,” says the report.

Feta cheese and figs are two other flavour trends cited by Synergy, who, looking more generally at the food industry, see Japan’s red cherry blossom to be “a focus for product launches in 2020 and coming years”.

As Food Spark’s recent food trend report previously noted, 2020 seems poised to be the year of Japan in more ways than one.

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