Normunds Staņēvičs, CEO of Food Union Group, and Ieva Ražinska, marketing manager at Food Union Latvia, shared frozen flavor trends and insights that they believe will reflect consumers’ desires for nostalgic favorites from childhood as well as new, exciting flavors and more health-conscious options.
Consumers around the world are facing significant changes to their lifestyles. Many people are spending more time at home and indoors due to stay-at-home orders. Despite consumers sheltering indoors for long periods of time, ice cream sales continue to increase. Food Union’s Ice Cream Competence Centre is monitoring the pulse of these consumer changes with researchers in Latvia and 8 other countries studying cultural and behavioral trends. Their research has found that consumers are looking for comfort during the global pandemic. “During this time when lives are disrupted, consumers are reaching for food and flavors that provide emotional comfort, make them feel pampered and remind them of childhood,” Normunds Staņēvičs, CEO of Food Union Group said.
Ieva Ražinska, marketing manager at Food Union Latvia says new flavors meet consumers’ needs for excitement and novelty during the pandemic’s disruptive lockdowns. Consumers willing to push their boundaries further will be able to try new flavors that offer sensory and visual disruptions such as sweet and savory mixtures with vegetables, potato chips or other savory snacks. Other unique flavors include the sweet-sour sensation of Ruby chocolate, Japanese- inspired flavors like matcha and mochi, or even hemp and CBD oil.
Normunds Staņēvičs also said consumer’s tastes for ice cream trends and flavors vary by season and year. “In the summer, consumers look for refreshing water-based products such as sorbet with citrus fruits and berries. In the winter, there is more demand for warm chocolatey or nutty flavors,” he said. “Our innovative trends depend on the demands of our consumers, but we always uphold our high standards of taste, quality and nutritional value across product development. At Food Union, we are always pushing the boundaries of innovation.”
As people begin to emerge from their cocoon state and leave their homes, many consumers will experience a sensory re-awakening. Consumers will likely spend more time rediscovering the world outside and enjoying new flavors, tastes and sights. And as consumers spend more time outside in nature, new ice cream ingredients will include natural aromatic botanicals, spices with warm notes such as cardamom and cinnamon. Consumers also want natural options that benefit their overall health and wellness needs.
According to Ražinska, Food Union’s key areas of focus for ice cream innovation in 2021 and beyond will also be to develop plant-based and flexitarian products as well as products that use less sugar without compromising indulgent flavors. “There is a strong demand for healthier alternatives and plant-based alternatives. We have found that every flavor in dairy can also be made in plant-based frozen desserts when paired with the right non-dairy ice cream base, so there are delicious and guilt-free options for everyone,” Ražinska said.
The company will also work on sustainable packaging to reduce the environmental footprint of their products as well as upgrades to cones, wafer cups and new single portion products in unexpected shapes and sizes.