Swiss flavor and fragrance company Firmenich announced “Classic Blueberry” is the flavor of the year for 2020. It has a longstanding association with well-being and has played a role in new food and beverage options.
“What’s classic is new again,” said Emmanuel Butstraen, President of Firmenich Flavors. “With blueberry we celebrate a flavor that is timeless and enduring, but also increasingly relevant. Blueberry has been a beloved flavor for centuries in many markets and today, with our increasing focus on health and wellness, blueberries are being rediscovered and growing to be one of the most relevant flavors in many categories,” he added.
Firmenich’s recent study of online discussions around “super foods,” determined that berries were the No. 1 food mentioned, with blueberries ranked as the No. 1 berry. Products with blueberry flavor are nearly twice as likely to make a functional claim on pack as a typical food or beverage, according to Mintel data. Blueberry as an ingredient has grown in food and beverage use each year since 2008. Agricultural production of blueberries in the U.S. has increased fivefold since 2007 and has more than doubled worldwide during that same time period, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO).
Blueberry has seen rapid growth in the last decade in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, according to Mintel. Blueberry has also seen growth in nearly all of the food and beverage categories tracked by Mintel.
In a recent survey across 16 countries with nearly 5000 participants, Firmenich found that the No. 1 emotion associated with blueberry was happiness, followed by a sense of comfort.
“This choice of a more traditional flavor as our ‘flavor of the year’ actually represents a more significant shift in the food industry toward more intentional and emotional design,” noted Jeffrey Schmoyer, VP Global Insights for Firmenich. “Consumers are more inclined to try something unfamiliar to them, such as kombucha or a cashew yogurt, if it’s flavored in a way they can connect with on an emotional level. We see blueberry playing a bigger role in the coming years in helping product developers introduce new food concepts around the world.”
Blueberry not only pairs well with other flavors, it also stands up on its own, Firmenich said.
“Classic blueberry is a fantastic flavor to work with because it’s robust and multi-faceted,” explained Eric Tang, Flavorist at Firmenich. “Blueberry has stand out floral notes and distinct tanginess, with fresh green and sweet elements woven in.”
Today, blueberries can be found in savory food items, such as pizzas, grain bowls and meat dishes.