Innovation remains a key feature of the global confectionery market. As demonstrated by a constant stream of new product development and product launches, manufacturers are attempting to maintain consumer interest by looking for innovative ways to diversify their offering.
One way in which this can be achieved in through the use of flavouring. You can produce an identifiable flavoured product (or a coherent range of products) or you can add subtle flavours that are not identifiable as such but make the product unique and memorable.
For example, chocolate has a natural affinity with many different flavours, which can be used as primary or secondary additions to the basic flavour profile. These include vanilla, roasted nut, coffee, caramel, raisin, fig and rose. And of course there are many more, as well as so-called flavour enhancers, which we increasingly see, such tropical spice oils including cardamom, cassia, clove, cinnamon, cumin, mace and nutmeg.
European producers have not quite reached the level of flavour innovation or experimentation seen in Japan, but there are plenty of interesting flavour combinations appearing on the market.
Cocoa sales fell last year and analysts suggest that pricing and competition from discount stores are taking a chunk of the market share. This has left space for the industry to drive forward with innovative flavours.
We are already seeing a string of salty and sweet product releases, including the ever popular salted caramel, but brands are increasingly branching out into herbs and floral flavours too. Consumers are becoming increasingly adventurous and, although we may not be ready for vegetables or cheese just yet, it will be exciting to see what happens next.