Continue to Pour Out New Flavors and Uses
By Suzanne J. Brown
Ca-Ching, Ca-Ching, Ca-Ching. If the noise at the cash register is an indicator, there’s new growth in the flavored syrup market. With new flavored syrups pouring into the market to meet increased demand, there is no end to the clever ways to increase cash flow.
Our annual two-part report on flavored syrups reveals new flavors, interesting market niches, creative ways of using syrups and private label. As the beverage industry continues to add segments such as energy and functional drinks, flavors are used to differentiate brands and motivate competition. Coffee and tea retailers continue to jockey for leadership positions by providing exciting beverages and ways to use syrups. Beverage industry giants like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes are adding flavors to their brand portfolios as well. Designer waters are offering more flavors to create sweet drinks and the Ready-To-Drink (RTD) market for both coffees and teas is flourishing with new flavored lattes, chai and dairy based flavored beverages.
Let’s start with the flavors themselves. The most popular flavors continue to be vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, amaretto, chocolate, raspberry, Irish cream and almond. Seasonal mainstays are eggnog, ginger spice, and cinnamon. New flavors that are growing in popularity are fruit flavors like watermelon, marionberry, huckleberry, blueberry, blackberry, passionfruit, mango and banana. Most manufacturers offer recipe booklets and other materials to help merchandise their products. Merchandising programs, marketing support and individual promotional ideas for retailers help syrup manufacturers sell their products.
Opportunities for growth continues to be foodservice, the at-home market, private label and ethnic markets. Customization is very important to clients of syrup manufacturers. Comments on growing markets made by Jean Marc Gallerie, president/c.e.o., Routin, emphasize the idea of a unique product, “tasting is fundamental since manufacturers need always to keep in mind that the consumer does not know what to do yet.” He adds, “When a pastry chef adds passion fruit syrup to a passion fruit pie, he actually boosts its flavor and transforms its final product into a more delicious dessert, thereby opening the doors to the pastry distributors and specialty foods distributors markets.”
Flavored syrups have just scratched the surface in food and bar service. There are many opportunities for education and growth in both areas. Chefs are just learning to expand their menus with recipes using syrup as an ingredient. Always looking for opportunities to promote their skills and styles, syrup manufacturers sometimes partner with little known chefs and help vault them to star status, like Emeril Lagasse, simply by helping them kick it up a notch with their flavors.
In their book Cooking With Tea, by Robert Wemischner and Diana Rosen, there is a recipe for Iced Tea with Lemongrass Syrup. This recipe could be created with ready-made tea concentrate and lemongrass syrup. A note underneath the recipe provides chefs with other uses for this syrup, including flavoring dressings and drizzling over fresh fruit such as starfruit, melon, pineapple, mango and papaya. Laura Martin, Stearns & Lehman, says that flavors such as raspberry and lemon complement tea very nicely, as do mango and peach.
Traditionally, the most popular non-alcoholic drinks from the bar are “virgin” this and that. If bars have a bottle of cranberry juice in stock, they may be able to mix a cranberry Italian soda on request and per instruction, but it’s probably not memorable. Chefs are just beginning to work with flavored syrups to create distinguishing, signature recipes. While cosmopolitans, strawberry margaritas and flavored martinis look romantic and glamorous in their drink specific glassware accented with colorful glass swizzle sticks, flavored syrups offer customization, versatility and creativity to both cocktails and mocktails. A key operational success point is to build relationships of trust and cooperation over time. One example reported by Kate LaPoint, marketing manager, Stirling, is the retail customer whose patrons love Jamaican Rum flavor, but the owner/manager didn’t know anything else to do with it other than put it in a latte. Since he had a limited dessert/pastry menu, Stirling gave the retailer a recipe for rum raisin sauce. In addition, they suggested more beverages that included the Jamaican Rum, but also used other Stirling flavors. The result was “Jah’Moka Mon,” which is mocha with a shot of Jamaican Rum. The retailer also used Stirling’s recipe for Hot Buttered Rum batter during the winter months. LaPoint reported other new flavors recently introduced by Stirling are Toasted Marshmallow, Rhythm & Blueberry, and Highland Butterscotch.
Oscar’s also offers Toasted Marshmallow, which Colleen Ransom describes as tasting like “smores.” Wouldn’t this be good mixed with cowboy coffee made over an open pot by an outdoor campfire! Other new flavors are Almond Crunch, Gingerbread and Montana Huckleberry, which is purple in color. An interesting note, according to Ransom, is that these flavors will not curdle in milk.
Whether seated at the coffee bar or cocktail bar, Torani continues at the forefront of the industry in rolling out new beverage concepts. Says Cindy Eckart of Torani, “Caramella” is one of the latest. It’s a cafe latte made with Torani Caramel sauce steams with milk and poured over espresso. The drink is topped with whipped cream drizzled with caramel sauce for an extra indulgence. Torani’s Frusia whole fruit smoothie base is popular blended with ice and lemonade or chilled brewed tea. Foodservice operators like to offer customers something a bit unexpected and Frusia provides opportunities for that different touch.
Pomegranate syrup, which was introduced by Torani last fall, has a tangy-sweet flavor that provides a refreshing new taste to Italian sodas and adds a sophisticated note to blended cocktails or mocktails. Pomegranate is a flavor that appears more and more on restaurant menus, in the kitchen as well as at the bar.
Ginger is a flavor that is really making a comeback. I personally found this very good news because I don’t like to peel ginger and have a couple of recipes that call for it. One is a tea ginger jelly and the other is a spiced tea that I learned to make last fall. It’s the latter, in fact, that is the most trouble. I’ll share it with you. While dining at an Atlanta Indian restaurant, I was served their “spiced” tea. The waitress told me that it was good for opening clogged sinuses and especially healing to sore throats that accompany colds. Having a cold, this news sounded good to me. I loved the tea so much, and it did help my cold (or numbed it), that the next day I called the restaurant for the recipe. The beverage consisted of freshly ground ginger, whole cardamom, cinnamon sticks, and a bay leaf boiled together with black tea. It tastes great, but expensive to make by the cup. When I read that Torani just introduced Ginger Spice syrup, and its definition is “a note of Indian spices like clove, cardamom and ginger,” I was ecstatic.
DaVinci also sells ginger syrup. In a brochure from DaVinci, titled Favorite Recipes - Beverages, Entrees, Desserts, and More, restaurateurs are given recipes that work well with seasonal concepts. For example, with February approaching, and many holidays to celebrate, including Presidents’ Day, Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year, ginger and cinnamon are the perfect flavors to give a holiday food or beverage that little something special. Leanne Mix a spokesman for DaVinci said that last year after cinnamon premiered in January 2001 as part of their Special Edition Flavor series the response was so amazing that even after the promotion time customers anticipated its return. This enthusiasm for one flavor reinforced the campaign for new flavors in the industry.
Several years ago, we reported that syrup manufacturers had found new markets in Central and South America. Now those countries are influencing new flavors and we’re reacting take for example Dulce de Leche, a Latin flavor. DaVinci developed their Special Edition Flavor series where each flavor is introduced with a set of theme recipes. Playing off the romantic origins of Dulce de Leche and the indulgent effect it had in a mocha, they developed the “Latin Lover,” a fanciful recipe to reflect the fun in trying new flavors. “With the increasing popularity of Bubble Tea, brought to America’s palate from Taiwan,” said Mix, “DaVinci’s All Natural Syrups are used to create flavor profiles that appeal to that genre of tastes.” Oscar’s Ransom added that the flavor of Rose is one that evolved from the Asian market. In France, Nicolas Bernard, area export manager for Teisseire, the easiest, most refreshing drinks combine syrups with water. Best sellers are grenadine, mint, orange and lemon. However, Teisseire’s new flavors blend with what we’re hearing from others: Jasmine, rose, violet, blackberry and anise.
Bill Lombardo, Monin c.e.o., reports that Thai and other Asian style beverages are very hot. So, too are the floral flavors that add a huge aroma and flavor with only a small amount of sweetness. Monin has just introduced natural Rose and Violet, and Jasmine. “These flavors turn ordinary tea, soda and juices into unique signature beverages for a creative operator” added Lombardo.
While Stirling has experienced that fruit flavors are preferred by Asian consumers, Earl Greiner, Stirling’s c.e.o., has not spent much time in ethnic profiling. He concludes, “The American-style espresso beverage market has already captured the various ethnic groups that blend together to make up the population of this country.”
Recent research of ethnic groups conducted by Monin demonstrates there is a rapidly growing participation of these market segments in specialty coffee, flavored beverages and smoothies. Martin of Stearns & Lehman believes that flavored syrups’ leverage over the Ready-To Drink (RTD) market is that syrups can be used to customize drinks on an individual basis. Flavor combinations are often used when creating new flavors, giving syrups a unique versatility that RTD’s cannot. With over 60 flavors, including sugar free, Torani offers syrup and sauce flavors that appeal to their customers’ community. “In this way,” says Eckert, “Torani is able to meet needs market by market.”
In Part II, we will discuss the more controversial issue of private labeling syrups and opportunities to grow the at-home market.
Suzanne J. Brown is marketing correspondent for Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. She is senior marketing consultant for Hope-Beckham, Inc., an integrated marketing/public relations firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. She can be reached at (404) 636-8200, ext. 232 or email@example.com
Tea & Coffee - January/February 2002
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