According to McCormick’s recent Indonesia consumer snacking survey conducted on over 400 consumers, innovation with spice and heat has emerged as the most popular area drawing consumer interest.
“It is clear that more Indonesians today are snacking, with about 60% of participants telling us that they picked up this habit of snacking more during the pandemic and this has led to them craving for more healthier options to be made available as well,” McCormick APAC VP for Flavour Solutions Betty Juliana Tan told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“There has also been a rise in the awareness around this ingredients being used to make these snacks and any health claims being made, and with these we have also seen that at least 60% of consumers feel that the use of herbs and spices are the top ingredients to make snack flavours healthier.
“The top five herbs and spices here are ginger, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and black pepper; whereas within the flavours of choice we are seeing basic standard choices such as smoky, spicy and meaty take the lead – but it is important to note that within these consumers are demanding a wider variety of choices, e.g. spicy cannot just be spicy anymore but must provide a variety of chilli spices to choose from such as Carolina reaper, jalapeno, habanero, ghost pepper and so on.
“There is no doubt at all that the trend is with spice right now, and more importantly to make sure there is a variety of spice made available.”
Tan added that this spicy microtheme is rising to become known as Spicy+, and in addition to variety, firms are increasingly expected to be able to create flavours that are very far out of the box especially if they wish to capture the attention of a younger audience.
“This Spicy+ trend can also be seen in flavours such as different types of regional heat that can showcase different cultural identities and also provide different intensities of heat – so Malaysia and Indonesia for example could have snacks with two different types of sambal chilli local to them that appeal to different consumer groups,” she said.
“There’s also been an increase in the creation of bold, unexpected flavours such as the combination of cheese and spice in instant noodles – this is something that really appeals to the younger generation, which looks for something that can satisfy their curiousities and also work well on social media, making social media now just a good source of information but also a big spark for new trends.
“Amidst all this, there’s also that maintained interest in healthier options amidst the health awareness rise, so using herbs and spices in flavour innovation is a good way to provide that as a source of comfort in a sense.”
Focus on heat
Although spicy is in essence a flavour, to the consumer it is also a multidimensional, multisensorial experience that enacts physical reactions including heat to the food – and because of this it is possible to utilise not just chillis to make spicy snacks but also other sources of passive heat like pepper, paprika or ginger, which opens up the possibilities for flavour innovation even further.
“The focus for us is currently on heat – and though the study was focused on snacks in Indonesia, in actuality this demand for spice also extends to multiple other food categories so there is a very wide range of foods to work with,” said Tan.
“At present we are seeing several other main food hosts including plant-based proteins, sandwiches and chicken as bases that can serve as ideal canvases for heat, so a lot of R&D is going into these.
“One other trend worth mentioning is that any category providing convenience is also very much in demand now as consumers have spent a lot of time at home during COVID-19 and invested in cooking equipment and the like, but now have less time with the shift back to work and travelling, yet still want to make the effort to use this new equipment – this has driven up the need for convenience, so we’re also working on things like cooking kits, sauces, ready-to-cook packages and more to meet these needs.”