Spicy nacho chips
Peppers are popular while Vietnamese and Filipino flavors focus on balance in snack innovation.

KANSAS CITY — Ethnic flavor in snack innovation could be a seasoning from Senegal or an aji from the Americas. Jamaican jerk is another possibility. Snack flavor ideas are coming in from Asia, Africa and the Americas. Heat continues to trend, but some countries, like Vietnam and the Philippines, also offer flavors centered around balance.

“The flavors of Vietnamese dishes tend to be very well balanced,” said Roger Lane, marketing manager, savory flavors at Sensient Flavors, Hoffman Estates, Ill. “The people of Vietnam take balance very seriously, and this applies to their cuisine as well. The majority of dishes include all five taste elements: spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet.”

Pho and its blend of savory, spice notes and herbs translate well into snacks, especially in peanuts or lighter snacks like popcorn or rice crackers, he said. Banh mi sandwiches also work in a snack format, he said.

“Again, it’s the combination of savory pate and other meats, tangy slaw and fresh herbs that balance together so well across the snack platform,” Mr. Lane said. “Even the simple combination of herbs like cilantro and a sour note from vinegar and maybe the heat of jalapeño would be enough to evoke the flavors of the dish.”

An article that appeared June 1 in Vogue carried the title “How Filipino food is becoming the next great American cuisine.” Spanish, Western, Chinese, Japanese and Pacific Island flavors all have contributed to the country’s cuisine, according to the article.

Mr. Lane said Filipino food tends to be balanced across salty, sweet and sour. Adobo focuses on vinegar, soy sauce and garlic as a marinade and cooking sauce for meats. Pancit is another Filipino flavor consideration.

“While there are many regional variations on the dish, they all typically include noodles, vegetables and meat, with shrimp and pork being the most popular,” Mr. Lane said. “Seasonings include garlic, soy sauce and pungent fish sauce.”

Other Asian countries are contributing as well. Tastes originating in India, Thailand, Japan and Korea are impacting snack flavors, said Lacey Eckert, market development specialist for Kalsec, Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich. The flavors include various types of curry, sriracha, ginger, wasabi, teriyaki, soy sauce and Korean BBQ.

“With the continuation of the hot and spicy trend, expect to see more Asian-inspired spicy flavors, such as sambal and gochujang, emerge in the snack category,” she said.

Consumers are being introduced to Japanese cuisine beyond sushi and teriyaki, said Jean Shieh, marketing manager for Sensient Natural Ingredients, Turlock, Calif. Meat, fish, dairy products, mushrooms, tomatoes and other vegetables may be used to achieve a savory umami taste. Vegetable-based umami works well as a topical seasoning for snacks.

“Not only does it have a flavor profile that resonates well with foodies everywhere, the clean label ingredients also help position a product above those containing artificial ingredients,” Ms. Shieh said.

Yakiniku no tare
The basic formulation of yakiniku no tare is a combination of soy sauce, sake or mirin, sugar, garlic, fruits and spices.

Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc., San Francisco, planned to offer yakiniku-flavored potato chips at its booth during the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition June 25-28 in Las Vegas. Yakiniku in Japanese means grilled meat, said Yusuke Hiraiwa, national industrial sales/R.&D. manager for Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc.

“There are commercially packaged yakiniku sauces, or referenced as ‘yakiniku no tare’ in Japan,” he said. “The basic formulation of yakiniku no tare is a combination of soy sauce, sake (rice wine) or mirin (sweet cooking rice wine), sugar, garlic, fruits, spices, etc.
“Since soy sauce is the main ingredient to make yakiniku no tare, using granulated gluten-free tamari soy sauce-NGP (Non-GMO Project verified) in powder form to formulate dry yakiniku flavor for potato chips makes (it) the most efficient … and this allows us to make gluten-free options.”

Kikkoman also planned to offer teriyaki pineapple jerky that paired organic pineapple with Kikkoman less sodium gluten-free teriyaki marinade and sauce, and granulated gluten-free tamari soy sauce-NGP. Also at IFT, beets were to stand in for sashimi-grade fish in plant-based poke thanks to Kikkoman gluten-free tamari soy sauce, toasted sesame seed oil and granulated gluten-free tamari soy sauce-NGP. Carrot-coconut chilled soup was to feature organic coconut milk blended with carrots and lemongrass and enhanced with Kikkoman preservative-free sriracha hot chili sauce. Kikkoman less sodium gluten-free tamari soy sauce was to add wheat-free umami and savory flavor depth.