As consumers look to bring unique multi-sensory experiences featuring bright colors, interesting textures, and unusual flavors to their Snapchat stories or Instagram feeds. Distinctive vegetables and spices like ube, charcoal and turmeric add an extraordinary kick to healthy products while still giving consumers that shareable moment of escape. Expect to see more health-forward menu items that feature visually exciting flavors and ingredients to boost their appeal among diners.
Ube, a tuberous root vegetable with a vivid violet to bright lavender color, also known as purple yam, has been called “the new matcha.” It is a popular ingredient in Filipino cuisine with antioxidants and vitamins. It adds a touch of purple to menu items, including ice cream, tarts, cookies, cupcakes, milk teas, and lattes.
Turmeric, a ginger relative, is grown throughout India, Asia, and Central America. The popular ingredient is often found in curries and elevates dishes through its bright orange color and health benefits. Today, we use this historically Ayurvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory and brain-health properties (or functional properties). It contains curcumin, which is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Turmeric has an earthy, slightly bitter flavor and because of this approachable flavor profile and a long list of health benefits, turmeric can serve as a good entry point for manufacturers and operators looking to start using functional foods in their offerings.
I think that customers are increasingly looking for new flavors and dishes. The customer is becoming more of a global consumer. Turmeric is a seasoning that will help with our menu expansion.” – Foodservice Operator
Activated charcoal is a generally tasteless black powder that can be added to a variety of foods and beverages such as bread, ice cream, juice, and tea. Bamboo charcoal and coconut ash are some common varieties. After successful implementation in Japan, activated charcoal is making an appearance in the US as an exotic flavor, food coloring, and health-driven ingredient. Not only are we seeing charcoal enter into the food and beverage space it is showing up in toothpaste, shampoo, face wash, and other beauty products. Adding natural charcoal coloring could be a unique, visually compelling way to add intrigue to a food or beverage at a time when more consumers are concerned with health benefits and presentation.
Keep your eye out for…
Other colorful ingredients like sumac and algae add a pop of color and health (antioxidants and protein) to a variety of dishes. As superfood claims continue to encourage consumers to purchase a dish or beverage functionality becomes increasingly important. Functionality is incorporated into more and more food and beverage products and will be important to keep an eye on these unique and different ingredients that bring a pop of color while delivering health benefits.