Grocery Shopping

November 1, 2017

By FEMA Staff

Have you ever opened a bag of potato chips and thought to yourself “I wish I could have a chip that tasted like Chicken & Waffles or Sriracha?”

Flavor and food companies are now paying closer attention to what their consumers want to buy, and consumers have a lot to say.

Haven’t flavor companies always wanted to please consumers?

Yes. But, inspiration for a new flavor or flavor combination did not always stem from consumer input. Sometimes food companies presented ideas for products with new flavors to a flavor manufacturer, and flavorists would develop the requested flavors for inclusion in the new products. Sometimes flavorists created new flavors and presented them to a food company to help drive product development. The creations always had consumers in mind but the ideas came from the industry.

That is no longer the case. Consumers now have a voice and are vocal about sharing their desires.

We now know that flavors are increasingly responsible for driving consumers’ purchasing decisions. In various industries from snack foods, packaged goods, beverages and even adult beverages, flavors have driven sales. According to the “Special Trends in Adult Beverage Report: 2013 State of the Industry,” sales volume of adult beverages grew by 3.6 percent, reaching $199.8 billion in 2012. This growth in sales and consumption is attributed in large part to the appealing flavor profiles now offered. Consumers are excited about new flavor options.

How are consumers participating in flavor development?

With flavor options impacting product sales so significantly, companies have realized that a variety of options help keep consumers interested in their brand. Social media has allowed the flavor industry and food companies to capitalize on this flavor fascination.

For example, Lay’s, the well-known potato chip brand, leveraged social media capabilities to ask for consumer participation in their flavored chip development. The company received 3.8 million suggestions for new chip flavors through their “Do Us A Flavor” campaign. Those flavor suggestions were narrowed down, and judges deemed three flavors the finalists—resulting in Americans being able to purchase Chicken & Waffles, Sriracha or Cheesy Garlic Bread flavored chips and then vote on their favorite.

The Lay’s campaign is just one example of a company inviting their consumers to be a part of the flavor creation process. Companies are increasingly relying on consumer feedback to drive their creation decisions, and so far, consumers have had a lot to say.

The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States (FEMA) was founded in 1909 and is the national association of the U.S. flavor industry. FEMA’s membership is comprised of flavor manufacturers, flavor users, flavor ingredient suppliers, and others with an interest in the U.S. flavor industry. The association is committed to ensuring a safe supply of flavor ingredients used in foods and beverages enjoyed by billions of men, women, and children around the world.