Flavor Insight: Harissa

September 6, 2018
Flavor Ingredients Savory
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A garlicky chili paste from North Africa that blends hot chili peppers (which are often smoked), garlic, olive oil and spices, like cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. Tomatoes and rose petals are also common ingredients to this fiery-hot sauce. Sometimes described as “Tunisia’s main condiment,” it packs quite a punch and gives depth to cooked meats and vegetables. We’re seeing harissa appear in a host of products and recipes – from harissa sweet potato wedges to Moroccan harissa grilled chicken legs. Let’s take a look at the various forms of harissa on the menu, in social media and in new products.

Harissa Print & Social Media Highlights

There are several mentions of harissa in social and print media. Here are some of the highlights.

• While scrolling through Pinterest, harissa pins appear in a wide variety of food and beverage recipes but especially savory meals. These pins include harissa chicken with leeks, potatoes and yogurt, roasted carrots with harissa and honey, harissa roasted pork tenderloin, harissa Portobello mushroom tacos, and shakshuka with harissa.

• A Twitter search shows tweets mentioning harissa, including this one by @NewRecipesss “Baked chicken with lemon and harissa,” with included recipe. Also mentioned by @bestrecipesclub with “Harissa asparagus salad with baby beetroot and strawberry,” also with attached recipe.

• On a December 2017 taping of the Today Show, a recipe using harissa was featured. This recipe is roasted acorn squash with harissa-citrus dressing and mint. This salad is described as earthy, bright, a little spicy and totally delicious.

• On Genius Kitchen, 97 recipes appear when you search for harissa. Recipes include harissa burgers, poached eggs with harissa oil, harissa and yogurt baked chicken, safari pizza with harissa and harissa cauliflower steaks.

Harissa On the Menu

199 Harissa mentions on the menu

Casual Dining is the top restaurant segment, with appetizer, entrée and sandwich as the top three menu sections with the most harissa flavored items. Appetizers account for 46% of all harissa flavored menu items.

Menu Mentions:

• Harissa Barbeque Duck with carrots, orange blossom, almonds and dates at Sarma.

• Harissa Chicken Trottole with trottole pasta, grilled chicken, harissa cram sauce, red onions, jalapenos and parmesan at Green Mill Restaurant and Bar.

• Dukkah Crusted Tempura Calamari with smoked harissa crispy long beans, lemon-apricot aioli, basil and mint at Abacus Restaurant.

• Harissa-Goat Cheese Omelet with sautéed onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin, paprika with Harissa-goat cheese and spinach at Medina Oven & Bar.

Seeking the Next Sriracha

As the conversation regarding spice is always evolving, it’s clear that heat for heat’s sake is a thing of the past. Product developers are seeking new opportunities to enhance and heighten the consumer experience with spicy flavors. Harissa is at the top of this list of unique ethnic flavors according to Food Business News. With its mild heat and ethnic origin, harissa is taking on Korean taste gochujang as a contender to replace sriracha.

Sriracha & Harissa Head-to-head

A look at consumer perception shows that sriracha beats harissa in most attributes, including Fun and Filling. The areas where harissa is competitive are Tasty (the two tastes are neck and neck) and Healthy. In fact, more consumers perceive harissa as healthy than do sriracha — by a gap of 5.2%.

Harissa Global New Product Introductions

139 Harissa flavored new product introductions

Global Fast Facts:

• EUROPE is the top global region for harissa new product introductions with 66% of all new products.

• SEASONINGS is the top product sub-category globally for harissa flavored new products.

• CHICKEN is the top flavor paired with harissa.

Products of Note

  • Schatze Des Orient Chicken Harissa With Basmati Rice: is made with tender chicken in a traditional harissa sauce with red peppers served on basmati rice with sultanas. Germany

  • Leader Price Sardines In Harissa Sauce: this product comprises sardines in a harissa and tomato based sauce. France

  • 1001 Delights Carrot Soup With Harissa: can be heated in the microwave and is said to be ideal with a baguette and herb butter. Netherlands

  • Waitrose Medeterranean Harissa Beef Lasagne: harissa spiced minced beef ragu layered with egg pasta and topped with béchamel sauce and chili flakes. UK

Top 5 Harissa  Product Categories

  • Sauces & Seasonings

  • Processed Fish, Meat & Egg Products

  • Savoury Spreads

  • Meals and Meal Centers

  • Snacks

Harissa North America New Product Introductions

North America Fast Facts

  • 25 Harissa flavored new product introductions

  • NORTH AMERICA accounts for 18% of all harissa flavored new product introductions.

  • DIPS is the top product sub-category for harissa flavored new products.

  • CHILI is the top flavor paired with harissa.

Products of Note:

  • President's Choice Blue Menu Harissa Stuffed Chicken Breast: chicken breasts, hearty chickpeas, red bell peppers, and butternut squash with Moroccan-style harissa. Canada

  • Tadah! Falafel Wrap With Sweet and Spicy Harissa: consists of chickpea fritters, sticky-sweet caramelized onions, spicy harissa, fresh lebni and a whole wheat tortilla. USA

  • President's Choice Red Harissa Hummus Roll: said to be a delicious chickpea spread recommended for crackers or slices of fresh baguette. Canada

  • President's ChoiceHarissa Hummus Flavor Rippled Potato Chips: described as perfectly seasoned crunchy rippled chips with a North American take on creamy hummus. Canada

Top 5 Harissa  Product Categories

  • Sauces & Seasonings

  • Savory Spreads

  • Processed Fish, Meat & Egg Products

  • Snacks

  • Meals and Meal Centers

Harissa Takeaways

With a bold heat and unique profile, harissa is well positioned to be the next ethnic heat, perhaps supplanting sriracha. It has the benefit of a “healthy” perception and ties sriracha on perception of “tasty.” Our research shows pairings like mint and citrus combining with harissa in savory products worldwide. Is harissa a worthwhile option for your particular consumer?

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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.

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Sources in full report