Consumer Trends: Consumers Search for Natural Flavors
(DSM) — Global life sciences company DSM today published results of a consumer survey revealing that urban consumers buying pre-prepared foods are seeking fresh, natural flavors and dishes that taste as though they could be home cooked. The survey results from 5,000 urban consumers in countries as diverse as the US, Brazil, China, Poland and Nigeria are included in the second of a series of global insight reports published by DSM to explore people’s perceptions of savory tastes.
Revealing urban consumers’ taste preferences, attitudes and behaviors, the survey data shows that more than half (55%) believe a ‘fresh or natural’ flavor is what makes the food they buy taste delicious. This was felt most strongly by urban consumers living in China (72%). Closely following, was ‘taste as if it were made at home’ with respondents in Brazil saying this was the most important driver for delicious food (67%). These cravings for fresh-tasting, natural or homemade tastes present something of a challenge for food producers in the face of consumer behavior, as nearly two-thirds (64%) of urban consumers report they are using the same or more processed food at home than they were three years ago.
Furthermore, the survey demonstrates how discerning consumers are when it comes to choosing foods. They will actively seek out food that meets their taste and health requirements with nearly half of those who check labels before buying foods globally, and 76% in China habitually checking labels for additives. Those who check labels are more likely to believe that a fresh and natural flavor is what makes food delicious when compared to those who don’t check labels (60% versus 44%).
Commenting on the data, Coen van Oorschot, Business Line Manager Process Flavors from DSM Food Specialties said: ‘Delivering natural and authentic-tasting food consistently and affordably is only the starting point of differentiation; it is one of the key challenges faced by the industry today. We firmly believe that food ingredient innovation will enable the development of products that combine homemade-tasting food with understandable labels and convenience, giving us the best of both worlds.’
Survey data about what drives repeat purchases of processed or pre-prepared foods highlight the complexity of this challenge. Two-thirds (65%) of urban consumers cite ‘easy to use and prepare’ as the key reason they buy pre-prepared food for the second time; half (50%) say a ‘very good taste’ is their reason for repeat purchase. Only one third (33%) of total survey respondents said that price is a factor in deciding to buy a processed or pre-prepared food again. Urban Americans are the most demanding when it comes to their processed and pre-prepared food purchase preferences: a very good taste (65%), easy to use and prepare (61%) and an economical price (47%) are all significant factors in their repurchase decisions.
DSM has a portfolio of yeast extracts and process flavors based on unique technology that finds its origin in natural ingredients themselves, such as vegetables and spices. The technology is able to capture volatiles and thereby consistently deliver a more intense, concentrated taste and pungency than when working with alternatives. The portfolio delivers natural and specific authentic flavor notes that mark any local culinary variety as well as making food producers less dependent on seasonal variations. This also offers simple labels for consumers who are looking for natural and convenient food with great taste.
The full report can be accessed free of charge at http://www.dsm.com/content/dam/dsm/foodandbeverages/en_US/documents/DSM-Global-Insight-Series-Savoury-Consumer-Taste-Preferences.pdf  and an infographic highlighting key data at http://www.dsm.com/markets/foodandbeverages/en_US/information-center-press/2013/09/DSM-Global-Insight-Series-Savoury-Consumer-Taste-Preferences.html .