Spiced food is now the preference around the world in countries as varied as China, the United States, Poland and Nigeria.
DSM’s third Global Insight paper based on an international savory consumer perception survey shows that spiced food is now the preference around the world in countries as varied as China, the United States, Poland and Nigeria.
The paper, which is part of the Global Insight series launched last year, reveals that when asked to rank preferred typical food tastes in the home, 66% of respondents listed “spicy” as one of their top three choices out of a list including “spicy”, “salty”, “sweet”, “sour”, “sweet and sour”, “plain or mild”, “bitter” and “other”. American consumers respond exactly on average with 66% saying they prefer spiced food. Nigeria tops the list with 81% including this taste in their top three, whereas Brazilians lag behind with only 37% saying they prefer intense and hot flavors in their food.
Where once people may have eaten spicy foods in particular settings such as ethnic restaurants, they are now expecting much more richness and intensity of flavors in their at-home menus, making spicy tastes a vital area for pre-prepared and processed food manufacturers to explore.
In addition, spicy snacks have surged in popularity. As spiced foods become part of people’s daily diets they will demand the same qualities from spiced dishes as from any others: fresh and authentic tastes with satisfyingly complex flavors which are free from complicated additives and represent good value for money.
The survey, which was done in the United States, China, Brazil, Nigeria and Poland, showed that around the world, men are somewhat more likely than women to select spiced dishes as their favorite food (70% versus 62% of respondents). A study presented at last year’s IFT suggested also a correlation between preferences for highly spiced food and risk-taking personalities (“sensation seekers”).
For manufacturers, this may mean that finding out exactly which intensity of taste their target audience prefers when saying they want spicy food is crucial and that more “lifestyle” marketing approaches might be an untapped opportunity.
“Creating spiced foods is no longer a matter of adding a single ingredient such as chili or pepper: it is a process of building a complex and satisfying flavor with spicy qualities at its core,” explained Frank Meijer, application expert at DSM Food Specialties’ Savory business. “Layering is key to achieving this, as is an understanding of what each ingredient adds to the dish or snack’s flavor profile.”
DSM’s savory ingredient development strategy is based on a multi-tiered, taste pyramid formulation approach where the base of the pyramid provides an initial savory umami taste that is rich and lingering. Following this, the middle blocks of the pyramid deliver specific taste directions (boiled, roast, fried etc.) by using natural ingredients to stay as close to the home-made cooking experience as possible. Finally, process flavors add complexity and intensity to the finished recipe as well as producer’s preferred top notes. It is the layered approach that helps deliver intensity, complexity and flavor richness that form the basis for a spicy, lingering and delicious taste sensation.