Magazine

Flavor of the Year 2021

For the first time ever, we have selected two Flavors of the Year for 2021: Ginger and Yuzu. Following an unprecedented year of uncertainty, the two flavors represent the world’s collective desire for strength and optimism: Two Super-hero like qualities characteristic of a Super-Root and Super-Fruit.

Why did we select two flavors for 2021?

The decision to select our Flavors of the Year was based on emerging consumer signals. Both ginger and yuzu have really gained global, cross-category momentum over the last two years and each of them, in their own right, is symbolic of the consumer’s desire for a sense of normalcy and healing. We see this theme of duality across many areas of 2021:

Flavor of the Year 2021
Combinations

Combinations

2021 will be a year for combinations, the uniting of two separate elements that when joined improve lives and keep optimism alive. There will be the continuation of in-person and at-home work where professionals merge and level their work-life balance.

Digitalization

Digitalization

The hybrid learning model has students returning to the classroom and working remotely from home. Shoppers will continue to purchase essentials on digital platforms and more sparingly in the store.

Jeff Schmoyer
“Ginger, with its mottled grey peel and rhizome, is indicative of ‘root toughness’. People and societies have powered through the greyest of times, and just like a root being pulled from the earth, what emerges is considerable strength. Our strengths are matched by the unfailing optimism we have for the future, embodied by our second flavor, the yuzu fruit. The yuzu is an inviting yellow and citrus-fresh symbol of renewed hope.”

Jeff Schmoyer

Global Head of Human Insights, Taste & Beyond

Ginger

Ginger is an ingredient that is intimately familiar to Southern and Southeast Asia, where it is synonymous with flavor and good health. As a super root, ginger is symbolic of strong, root toughness.

Ginger Flavor

Ginger Flavor

Distinct in aroma and taste, ginger’s most prominent flavor notes include a warm, spicy woodiness combined with herbaceous sweetness. These more prominent notes are balanced by a light lemony-citrus zest which is grounded by a unique earthiness.

Ginger Insights

The Super-Root

As a super-root, ginger is symbolic of strength. According to Flavor Emotion360™, Firmenich’s new global quantitative Consumer Insights program for natural ingredients, there is strong global continuity in how ginger is perceived by consumers. The most powerful emotional associations include power, safety, trust, practicality, energy and revitalization. Ginger is most recognized for its properties to warm, detoxify, aid in digestion and, perhaps, most celebrated for its unique immunity-boosting powers.

Ginger Origins

Ginger Origins

Ginger originated from Southeast Asia, from where it travelled and was cultivated throughout the region and beyond. Today, it remains a staple ingredient in much of Southern and Southeast Asian cuisine and is used across much of the world for its health benefits.

Which Flavor of the Year 2021 do you want to learn more about?

Yuzu

The yuzu is integral to Japanese cuisine and their country’s unique solstice ritual; for them, it is synonymous with specialty and sunshine. As a superfruit, yuzu is symbolic of unfailing optimism.

Yuzu Flavor

Yuzu Flavor

As a whole, yuzu fruit is at once sweet, floral and tart. Yuzu’s fragrant peel is dominated by floral, green, balsamic and thyme notes, while its juice is delicate, with more prominent floral characteristics which are offset by slightly earthier coconut and woody green notes. Yuzu’s citrus oil is gently extracted from the peel to create all-natural yuzu flavors.

Yuzu Insights

The Super-Fruit

Don’t let yuzu’s lemon-like appearance fool you. Like any good superhero disguise, it belies the power beneath. Yuzu is unusually resilient, unlike many other citrus fruits, thriving in cold weather. Beyond its super flavor and aroma, yuzu’s global popularity is growing thanks to its reputation as a powerhouse of vitamin C and antioxidants.

Yuzu Origins

Yuzu Origins

Yuzu is believed to have originated in China, eventually reaching Japan well over a millennium ago through the Korean Peninsula. It flourished in the island nation, with which it is most associated today. In Japan, yuzu is an important part of traditional Kaiseki haute cuisine and is also closely associated with the winter solstice, where the fruit symbolizes sunshine and good luck for the season ahead.

"It was important that this year’s selection comprise wonderful, unique flavors, but also clearly reflect the real consumer shift we’ve seen. Our Firmenich Human Insights Covid surveys have revealed that people are looking for more than just great taste from their food and beverages during these times; they’re placing new-found importance on nutrition and wellbeing. This inspired us to choose two exciting flavors which can enhance both.”

 

Emmanuel Butstraen
President, Taste & Beyond

Flavor of the Year Firmenich Innovation Insights

 

Firmenich’s own Flavor Knowledge Portal, built in in partnership with Mintel GNPD, transforms and leverages over a decade’s worth of data across millions of records on launched products to uncover patterns and trends around food and beverage innovation activity. From this tool, we see that even before Covid, food and beverage companies have been placing larger bets on these two super ingredients:

 

Ginger is already incredibly popular, and has been growing robustly for more than 10 years in terms of use as flavor in launched products worldwide. If the current growth trend continues, our estimates suggest annual launches of F&B innovation launches will likely crest over 2500 worldwide in the coming years, which would place ginger among the top 30 flavors worldwide out of our over 800 tracked tonalities. While Hot Drinks is clearly its strongest category, ginger has recently taken center stage in categories as diverse as Soups, Ice creams, and Sweeteners. Firmenich’s SMI™ social media analytics shows the same steady growth, with worldwide searches for this super-root reaching an all-time high in the spring of 2020, following many years of a seasonal peak in winter, underscoring its inherent warming nature.

 

Yuzu, while clearly more niche in most markets (~1/10th the popularity of ginger in terms of today’s innovation worldwide launches), is accelerating rapidly in its innovation rate and in social media representation, particularly recently. In fact, Yuzu has more than doubled in its use in innovations over the past 5 years. Today, this super-fruit is most commonly seen in Beverage and Confection applications, particularly in Asia. However, lately it is showing up across categories, particularly in Savory meal roles, where it adds excitement and differentiation.

Which Flavor of the Year 2021 do you want to learn more about?

Taste & beyond