US growth potential for South American-inspired snacks

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Snack food Flavor Meal

Gilroy Foods & Flavors has added its voice to the many that are forecasting South American flavored snacks to be the next big trend for the year ahead.

Part of ConAgra, Gilroy Foods & Flavors (GFF) produces custom-made seasonings, flavors and culinary bases. In its latest quarterly Food & FlavorCast report, it has predicted that the biggest growth areas for flavors in the US in 2009 will be South American meat and spices and also that Americans will increasingly be seeking these flavors in snack foods. The company cites figures from market researchers NPD which show that 21 percent of all meals in the US are now snacks, with snacking predicted to grow 14 percent by 2017.

In the report, GFF calls snacking “A veritable sea of change in the way Americans eat – and in the way foodservice providers and manufacturers should feed them.”

Americans eat more meat per capita than anyone else in the world – 124kg (approximately 273lb) each year according to FAO statistics – so it may come as no surprise that GFF’s predictions include a rise in the prominence of meat flavors, especially the grilled and barbecued meats of Argentina and Brazil.

In its recent flavor forecast, Mintel has also predicted flavors from Latin America to be big news in the year ahead, with cactus and chimichurri – a chili-based sauce for grilled meats – counting for two of its seven “heavy hitter” flavor predictions for 2009.

However, according to its Global New Product Database, new product releases in the US based on Latin American flavors have remained reasonably steady over the past three years, at 1,186 to 1,331. Global releases on the other hand stood at 3,900 in 2006, but boomed to 6,073 in 2007, and fell slightly to 5,364 last year.

Generational differences

GFF’s report suggests that there are differences in tastes according to age group, with those aged between 32 and 42 likely to be particularly attracted to bolder, more globally-inspired flavors.

Meanwhile, it said that children would continue to be attracted to bright colors and cartoon characters, young adults aged between 14 and 32 prefer ‘extreme’ flavors, while those over 42 are more health conscious with flavor preferences driven by nostalgia.

However it states: “NPD predicts that children under age nine and adults aged 30 to 39 and 50 to 59 will account for the majority of snacking by 2017.”

In order to tap into these trends, GFF highlighted snack wraps, new twists on salsa, and spicy steak flavors, as well as Latin-inspired flavorings for snacking seeds, such as chili and lime.

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