SWITZERLAND – Firmenich has announced ‘Classic Blueberry’ as the flavor of the year for 2020, due to its longstanding association with well-being and its role in helping diversify food and beverage options for consumers around the world.

This is the eighth consecutive year that the company has cast its vote for the hottest food and beverage flavor.

“What’s classic is new again,” says Emmanuel Butstraen, President, Firmenich Flavors. “With blueberry we celebrate a flavor that is timeless and enduring, but also increasingly relevant.

“Blueberry has been a beloved flavor for centuries in many markets and today, with our increasing focus on health and wellness, blueberries are being rediscovered and growing to be one of the most relevant flavors in many categories,” he added.

According to the flavor company, consumer interest in blue berries overall has surged in part due to a strong linkage with well-being.

In a recent Firmenich social media study of online discussions around “super foods”, berries were the number one food mentioned, and blueberry was the number one berry.

The study showed that products with blueberry flavor are nearly twice as likely to make a functional claim on pack as a typical food or beverage according to Mintel data.

Blueberry as an ingredient has been growing in food and beverage use each year since 2008 with it’s production in the U.S. increasing fivefold since 2007 and more than doubled worldwide in that same time period.

As a flavor used in new product development, blueberry has seen 101% growth over the past 10 years globally, with particularly rapid growth in markets such as the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, according to Mintel.

Blueberry has seen growth in nearly all of the food and beverage categories tracked by Mintel, with particularly strong 10 year growth in baby foods (700%), snacks (255%), special drinks (224%), breakfast cereals (145%), dairy (143%), sports & energy drinks (127%), and alcoholic drinks (100%).

Moreover, Firmenich notes that there is currently a tremendous influx of new food and beverage products entering the market, due to an increasing focus on issues such as sustainability and health.

In a recent survey across 16 countries conducted with nearly 5000 consumers, Firmenich found that the number one emotion associated with blueberry was happiness, followed by a sense of comfort.

“This choice of a more traditional flavor as our ‘flavor of the year’ actually represents a more significant shift in the food industry toward more intentional and emotional design,” notes Jeffrey Schmoyer, VP Global Insights for Firmenich.

“Consumers are more inclined to try something unfamiliar to them, such as kombucha or a cashew yogurt, if it’s flavored in a way they can connect with on an emotional level.

“We see blueberry playing a bigger role in the coming years in helping product developers introduce new food concepts around the world.”