Embrace simple flavors for thrifty consumers

November 17, 2021
4 min read

Simple flavors can appeal to consumers who are looking for ways to stretch their dollar and keep their pantry stocked with versatile meal essentials. Macroeconomic issues, such as inflation, rising food prices and supply chain shortages, will put new pressure to find value in food and drink products.

Now is the time to push flavors that offer value

Value will be essential for many US consumers as we move through this next phase of the pandemic, especially as economic experts predict inflation and food companies consider price increases.

Already, brands are cutting back and prioritizing core product lines to cope with labor shortages and supply chain issues. However, this could be an opportune time to refocus on flavors that can offer consumers the most value when shopping for food and drink products.

In November 2020, more than a third of US adults said higher grocery bills were the top factor to negatively affect their finances during the pandemic, according to Mintel research on consumers and the economic outlook. With inflation higher than it has been in the past 10 years, there will be a need to provide consumers with products that can help stretch their budgets.

Price will be a deterring factor for flavor experimentation

The greatest barrier to trying new flavors is price, which holds true across various age groups. While older consumers tend to be more conservative when trying new flavors, the youngest generations crave new flavor experiences, which need to be met with affordability and value.

Base: US: 2,000 internet users aged 18+ Source: Kantar Profiles/Mintel, October 2020

Lean into flavors that are familiar and easy to prepare

Recent launches from Kraft Heinz and General Mills are making new flavors versatile and budget-friendly.

KD Flavor Boosters in Canada brings new flavors to a pantry staple – mac and cheese. A US launch is anticipated in 2022.

BuzzFeed‘s Tasty paired up with General Mills to launch budget-friendly Tasty Dinner Kits. Each kit includes seasoning, sauce and a rice or pasta base. All that is left is to add a protein and a vegetable of choice.

Versatile flavors – especially in long-lasting formats – will support consumers’ needs

Due to COVID-19, long-lasting has become an important factor for more than a third of US consumers when shopping for food/drink. Think neutral or plain flavors for long-lasting products.

‘A longer shelf life to reduce waste’
Daily Harvest Frozen Mylk Triangles. Consumers mix this product with water at home to make ‘milk’, one 7 oz serving at a time. The brand claims the frozen product lasts for six months “so it’s always on-hand when you need it.”

Just one ingredient: organic gluten-free oats

JOI Organic Oat Milk Powder. The brand claims that its oat milk powder is a sustainable, affordable and customizable alternative to liquid oat milk. The powder has a shelf life of nine months and does not require refrigeration.

Shelf-stable reduces spoilage in the supply chain
Kencko Dried Smoothie Mix. Kencko‘s website states “We capture the nutrients of fresh produce in a shelf-stable form, reducing spoilage in the supply chain and helping consumers to waste less.”

Supply shortages will push consumers to ask for more versatility from their food

Support creative and thrifty consumers with products and flavors that will work across a range of recipes. Social media is a powerful tool that can provide recipe inspiration to avoid food waste.

Bread waffle
Pain Jacquet shares an easy waffle recipe using bread (France).

Bread eclair
Pain Jacquet shares bread eclair recipe (France).

Brioche tiramisu

Brioche Pasquier suggests to dip brioche in mascarpone and strawberries to make tiramisu (France).

What we think

Help thrifty consumers find flavors they not only trust and feel confident about but also ones that they can use again and again. Innovating with simple flavors will give the consumers the flexibility they need during difficult economic times.

Stephanie Mattucci
Stephanie Mattucci

Stephanie Mattucci is the Associate Director, Food Science at Mintel. Prior to Mintel, Stephanie worked as a food scientist in R&D for an ingredients company.

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