America’s tastebuds are getting more adventurous and so, too, are flavor choices for baked foods and snacks. In an exclusive Baking & Snack Q&A, Agneta Weisz, vice-president, R&D, Comax Flavors, Melville, NY, reviews the current trends in flavors and where they come from.

Baking & Snack: What consumer trends favor the use of savory flavors in baked foods and snacks where they previously have not been applied?

Agneta Weisz: Consumers are interested in some adventure combined with the familiar and unusual combination of taste sensations such as sweet and savory or hot and cold. They are also open to new ethnic tastes in all types of products.

Some of our customers are experimenting with chimoy (apricot and chili pepper) flavors in cookies, black pepper flavors in orange fruit fillings and Chinese five spice in snacks and muffins. Another unusual request was for horseradish flavor for muffins. We also had requests for fruit flavors to be added to savory dusting for chips such as apple smoke for potato chips and raspberry flavor for catsup-flavored dusting.

What are the most significant savory flavors for the baking and snack categories?

The most significant flavors for baking are still the old standbys: vanilla, butter, orange and lemon. New items we see are flavors for ethnic cuisines: condensed milk, goat milk and pandan.

Onion, garlic, sour cream, butter, buttermilk and cheese flavors are still very popular for snacks; however, they get more specific. The requests are for green onion, fresh butter or brown butter flavor, Wisconsin Cheddar or Asiago cheese. Heat is very much in demand; ancho chili, sweet chili, jalapeno and green peppercorn are often requested.

What about bacon? It’s getting a lot of buzz in the consumer press.

Bacon has been requested very often in the past two years. It is used in combination with many sweet-type flavors such as toffee and chocolate in ice cream syrups and cookies; it is used in chocolate, beer and vodka.

Of course, bacon is still very popular for chips, crackers and other snacks.

Where are trends or new concepts in savory flavors coming from?

What is new in restaurants today is what is going to become mainstream in a few years. Because of the poor economic situation, a lot of people are choosing to eat at home. There is a plethora of do-it-yourself meal kits on the supermarket shelves, refrigerators and freezers.

Food companies are selling creative sauces and marinating mixes that mimic products on restaurant menus.

What new products are being introduced? Are there particular segments of the food industry that generate more items using savory flavors than others?

New healthy breads and pastries with fortification or reduced sugar, salt and fat are still quite popular. Examples of popular fortification in baking are omega-3, calcium and fiber.