NEW YORK — Sixty-seven percent of consumers enjoy being able to consume specific seasonal ingredients year-round, according to new research from Mintel.
“Seasonal food and drink ingredients present a welcome opportunity for consumers to extend that special holiday feeling or escape the dreary winter days for sunny summer flavors,” Mintel said.
Seasonal flavors create an emotional connection with consumers, Mintel said, as 27 percent of Americans consider seasonal flavors to be nostalgic. Thirty-nine percent of consumers associated seasonal flavors with the word “comforting,” 39 percent with “special,” 33 percent with “warmth,” and 30 percent with “happy.”
“As Americans associate seasonal flavors with being fresh, special and nostalgic, it seems consumers are less likely to connect seasonal with mass-produced items, but rather items that conjure up an image of being homemade and remind them of personal memories,” said Diana Kelter, food service analyst at Mintel. “There is an opportunity for restaurants to leverage seasonal claims in more unique ways and build off of the seasonal experience through the presentation and description of their dishes.”
When thinking about seasonal foods, 45 percent of Americans are most likely to consider seasonal flavors and ingredients to be fresh, and 78 percent consider seasonal dishes to be a treat.
Three in four consumers agree that dining out is a great way to enjoy seasonal flavors, with 70 percent saying they enjoy seasonal menu offerings at restaurants, Mintel said. Forty-two percent even say they are willing to pay more for a seasonal dish when dining out.
Generations differ in where they prefer seasonal flavors and ingredients to appear. Within the baby boomer generation, 50 percent said they gravitate toward seasonal ingredients in salads. The iGeneration (ages 10-22) trends toward a shareable dining experience, Mintel said, as 50 percent of consumers in this age group said they favor seasonal appetizers and small plates.
Beverages are a popular segment for seasonal flavors for both millennials and the iGeneration. Forty-three percent of American consumers prefer seeing seasonal ingredients featured in coffee drinks, Mintel said, rising to 53 percent of millennials and 57 percent of iGeneration consumers. Tea is gaining traction as a seasonal drink as well, with 34 percent of consumers claiming they look for seasonal ingredients in tea.
“Seasonal coffee drinks are an affordable indulgence that can add a bit of fun to an everyday routine such as the morning cup of coffee,” Kelter said. “Younger consumers are a core demographic for seasonal coffee drinks as millennials have been more exposed to third wave coffee trends, which includes more elevated offerings, artisan preparation methods and increased flavor trends.”