Taste the Season: A Look Back at Summer

August 30, 2018
Flavor Ingredients Summer Trends

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Summer is a time for making memories. What better way to commemorate the season than by making a connection to the flavorful foods that are abundant, ripe and ready to pick? A few of the takeaways from summer 2018: fresh fruits dominated with a hyper focus on berries; cookies and donuts cross category as inclusions; and vivid glitz, glam and color captured consumer attention. Let’s take a deeper look back, to find lessons to take forward.

Them's the Berries

One of the simple highlights of summer is the abundance of ripe and flavorful berries. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are all sweet and easy to pop in your mouth. They also provided seasonal interest and flavor as additions to food and beverage recipes. This season we saw the blackberry come on strong. From a standalone fruit flavor to unique pairings and even as a hair color trend.

Unique Blackberry Pairings

• Goji & Blackberry

• Blackberry Rhubarb

• Blackberry & Meyer Lemon

• Blackberry Serrano

• Blackberry Tangerine

• Osmanthus & Blackberry

• Huckleberry Blackberry

• Blackberry Mojito

Blackberry Here and There

Hair highlights and overall color trends often are a precursor to what we later see emerge as food and beverage flavor trends. Trendy hair colors described as cotton candy, PB&J, vanilla milkshake and peach have gone viral in the past. The latest trend (validated with an increase in Pinterest saves of 365% since January of 2018) is blackberry!

From a food and beverage perspective we spotted blackberry at play both in alcoholic and non-alcoholic summer beverages, in some fruit based foodservice bakery items and in the iconic summer treat of ice cream.

• Culver’s Blackberry Cobbler: Ripe blackberries and crunchy cinnamon granola crumble swirled with Vanilla Fresh Frozen Custard

• Haagen-Daz Belgian Chocolate Vanilla & Blackberry Ice Cream: Silky vanilla and blackberry ice cream repeatedly layered between sheets of crispy Belgian chocolate for a uniquely creamy and crispy experience.

• Longbreak Blackberry Shandy: A hefeweizen ale with blackberry flavour and is said to be the perfect combination of wheat pale ale and the tart flavors of ripe blackberries.

• Caribou Blackberry Sage Sparkler: Blackberry puree with sage and subtle hints of lemon mixed with sparkling water.

• Caribou Blackberry Lemon Smoothie: Blackberry puree mixed with lemon zest, subtle hints of sage and blended with ice.

• Odwalla Blackberry Mojito: 100% Juice Blend with the juice of one fifth of a pear, one third cup of coconut water, juice of two blackberries, juice of four cherries, juice of one third of a lime and lemon juice.

Sweet Additions

Cookies and donuts are enjoying some new versatility, both as inclusions and as flavor inspiration.

The “What’s Hot 2018 Culinary Forecast” conducted by the National Restaurant Association has donuts with non-traditional fillings as the 17th leading food trend, with 64% of chefs surveyed agreeing innovative donuts are on the rise. (5) We have seen the marriage of donuts and ice cream give birth to the donut ice cream sandwich and this past season we saw it added to concessions at venues like the home of the Detroit Tigers, CoAmerica Park.

Bringing the Dough

Cookies have long been used as inclusions or mix-ins for plain vanilla ice cream but the number of cookie-inspired ice cream flavors has gone far beyond the simple standard of cookies & cream. Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops introduced three new cookie dough inspired flavors for the 2018 summer season. The beauty of these flavors is the mix of raw dough and baked cookies in the same tub.

• CinnDoughRella: Cinnamon and caramel ice creams loaded with cinnamon bun dough, shortbread cookies and swirls of cinnamon oatmeal.

• PB Doughable Chocolate: The ultimate decadence made of dark and milk chocolate ice creams with peanut butter cookie dough and peanut butter cookies swirled right in.

• Chip Off the Dough Block: A combo of chocolate chip and chocolate ice creams with chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate chip cookies.


Finally, we saw donut and cookie inspiration cross over and hit some interesting product categories with donut-flavored breath mints, cookie-flavored coffee, toaster pastries, yogurt and energy bars all in the packaged goods space.

The top unique donut flavors all adults crave range from nostalgic s’mores and peanut butter & jelly, to edgier flavors infused with alcohol and bacon:

• 29% S’mores

• 18% Mango

• 17 % Alcohol-Inspired

• 16% tie between Breakfast Cereal, Bacon-Infused and Peanut Butter & Jelly

Source: Dawn Foods

Introductions of Note

• Tic Tac Donut Flavored Mints: Flavored mints featuring Homer Simpson.

• Dunkin’ Donuts Dulce de Leche Cookie Flavored Coffee: Kosher certified made with 100% premium arabica coffee.

• Toast’em Pop-Ups Frosted Cookies & Créme: Fully baked and ready-to-eat toasted pastries.

• Chobani Flip Cookies & Cream Low Fat Greek Yogurt: Vanilla chocolate chip low fat Greek yogurt with chocolate cookies and creamy icing pieces.

• The Best Bar Ever Cookie Dough Real Food Bar: Nutritionally balanced, Fats from nuts, Premium proteins, real food inclusions, naturally sweetened.

Camera-Ready & Attention Getters

Vivid color catches the eye and creates the perfect opportunity for that Instagrammable moment. Retailers have really jumped on this bandwagon, so we can surmise that color and the element of surprise also delivers sales! Check out these color inspired and whimsical new product introductions.

• Dunkin’ Donuts rolled out celestial themed summer offerings introducing the Comet Candy Donut which has white icing with pink, blue and purple cotton candy flavored popping candy on top. Continuing with the theme, they extended both color and flavor with two limited edition cosmic slushies in pineapple and cotton candy.

• Wrigley Ice Breakers introduced summer inspired snow cone flavored gum with first of its kind, edible glitter to put this introduction over the top.

• Nabisco launched Cherry Cola Chocolate Oreo sandwich cookie with popping candy to get your attention in more ways than one.

• Target launched a Market Pantry private label exclusive ice cream called Unicorn Magic which is pink fruity ice cream with a sour blue swirl, frosting swirl and glitter candy bits.

The Takeaways

So, what can you take forward from this look back? Summer produce bursting with flavor and ripe for the picking will always earn top spot in seasonal flavor innovation. Traditional favorites with a twist or a unique pairing satisfy both that nostalgic yearning yet pander to one’s desire for adventure. Indulgence continues to sell. Mash ups inspired by cookies and donuts have been the theme for this past summer season. Finally, color and whimsy continue to excite and have us reaching for our phones and that next “selfie” to chronical our food and beverage exploration.

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You deserve more. Let’s get started.

What does true partnership look like? You deserve a flavor partner ready to turn these trends into the tangible.

Let FONA’s market insight and research experts get to work for you. Translate these trends into bold new ideas for your brand. Increase market share and get to your “what’s next.” Our technical flavor and product development experts are also at your service to help meet the labeling and flavor profile needs for your products to capitalize on this consumer trend. Let’s mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution. From concept to manufacturing, we’re here for you — every step of the way.

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