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A Matter of Taste: Flavoring Supplements

Industry by Chris Zecha on March 7, 2017

A Matter of Taste: Flavoring Supplements

In today’s supplement industry, flavor is no longer an afterthought. Instead it is second only to the unique formula that represents your brand. Once your nutraceutical product—whether that means gummy, powder or liquid format--- makes it off the shelf and into your consumer’s home, the taste test comes next. If the taste is unsatisfactory, that can easily be the end of your product.

In the nutraceutical world, flavor is extremely important because it can hide unpleasant tastes (think chalky, bitter, metallic) that are often associated with dietary supplements and sports supplements chockful of Omega-3s, botanicals, vitamins, minerals and proteins.

The Flavor Edge

To gain the flavor edge over the competition, you need to incorporate the concept of flavor as an important part of your research and development phase. Flavor must fit into your supplement’s overall product concept and marketing narrative. Your marketing and developing team needs to identify the specific functional components of your product to be used along with their use levels. It is then critical to work with experts and product development partners to achieve the best flavor results that help sell your product.

Flavor Planner

When researching and developing a new formula for a product, remember that you need to factor in the same amount of lead time for picking a flavor. When figuring out flavor, here are some key questions to ask yourself:

What consumer are you targeting? What do you know about them?

What are the latest flavor trends?

How are your competitors doing? Are their flavors popular or tanking? What can I draw from their successes and failures?

Flavor trends

When it comes to supplements, the flavor spectrum continues to grow. Popular flavors in the protein supplement arena include sweet, dessert-like flavors such as chocolate, peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate, cookies & cream, and coffee.

For gummies and chews, fruit flavors tend to be popular, flavors such as berry, banana, watermelon, fruit punch and lemonade.

There is a trend toward natural flavors which can benefit some supplements, and even tie into the role of an active ingredient. For instance, an antioxidant supplement with fruit-based ingredients in powder may benefit from a fruitier taste. Nut flavors such as peanut butter or cashew can help mask can help mask the taste of soy protein found in sports supplements.

Across the board in foods and supplements, the natural flavor trend continues.

According to a study by Allied Market Research in Portland Oregon, the global flavors market will reach $15.2 billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 4.3% from 2015 to 2020. Allied Market Research predicted that natural flavors would continue to grow in prominence, while synthetic or artificial flavors may experience some negative growth. In sum, consumers are demanding more and more supplements that are organic, GMO-free, vegan and gluten-free. Consumers want more natural flavors and colors along with cleaner labels.

Millennials and Baby boomers on Flavor

Favored flavors can be demographic. For instance, the millennial generation (ages 18 to 34) are big on flavor and are also very adventurous seekers of new tastes. They often favor bold, spicier flavors compared to older generations. The millennials have more exotic palates due to their exposure to global cuisines as well as their broader access to information about food trends thanks to social media.

The Baby Boomer palate differs from the Millennials in that the boomers (age 50-68) seek “fresh, authentic ingredients.” For boomers, the functionality of foods and their overall nutritional profile are pivotal as they are at an age where they are looking at supplements to help them attain anti-aging and long-term health benefits. According to research conducted by Fona International, “While they might not consider themselves “adventurous eaters”, Baby Boomers are drawn to fresh herbs, aromatics, and baking spices compared to younger consumers, which compels them to try and shop for unusual spice/herb blends.”

Seasonal Flavors

The trend in seasonal flavors has also hit the supplement aisle. That translates as pumpkin and apple flavors around the fall; mint-flavors around the Christmas holiday season; and tropical fruits in summer time. By offering “limited” seasonal flavors you can help create a buzz and spark new interest in your brand. When it launches, will the flavor match the season? (Example: Do I really want to launch this peppermint hot cocoa flavor in July?)

At Makers Nutrition, our experts will help you select enhancers and balancers from a comprehensive catalog of botanical extracts, essential oils, natural plant juices and aromatic compounds. Flavoring and sweeteners can be natural, artificial or a combination of the two. These selections are based on your product goals and how they fit in the marketplace. To read more about our approach to flavor systems go here:


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