Though the flavor standards in ice cream (vanilla, strawberry and chocolate) and yogurt (strawberry, vanilla, peach) never go out of style — bold, savory, ethnic and unique flavors continue to gain popularity and grab consumers’ interest, especially among millennials.

What are the most popular flavors of yogurt?

The top five yogurt flavors are strawberry blend, vanilla, plain, strawberry and peach, according to a recent report from Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, Ill., prepared by Chicago-based IRI. But something new and very unique to yogurt is starting to show up — savory flavors. Dairy Foods columnist Phillip Tong, Professor of Dairy Science at the Dairy Products Technology Center, first mentioned the new trend in our magazine back in February (see more on that article here). He mentioned that flavors like tomato, sweet potato, parsnip, ginger, curry and green tea are making their way into the yogurt aisle.

“Purees of these vegetables add sweetness and fiber along with unique savory flavor profiles,” said Tong.

This month, we reported on a yogurt line from Blue Hill, New York, N.Y., that consists entirely of savory flavors, like butternut squash, tomato, carrot and parsnip. Read more about this dairy product here.

Another trend showing up in yogurt products is an increase in seasonal flavors like apple, pumpkin and cranberry. Noosa is set to launch a cranberry apple flavor in its Aussie-style yogurt in July, while its popular pumpkin flavor is also returning. Chobani launched watermelon and plum in its seasonal, limited-batch line for summer.

As Tong mentioned, these new dairy flavors and other flavor introductions inspired by Hispanic and Asian cuisines are likely appeal to millennials.

Hispanic and Asian flavors are popular in milk and dairy products

Tapping into Hispanic and Asian flavors is not a new thing here in the United States, as Dairy Foods Columnist Kim Decker reported in our May issue, but interest is growing.

In Decker’s article (U.S. consumers welcome ethnic flavors) flavor expert Azeem Mateen (citing Mintel data) noted that 74% of U.S. households have either prepared or cooked ethnic foods at home and 59% eat ethnic foods because they like to try new flavors.

That is a sure sign that “as consumers’ palates demand more complex and intense flavors, we’ll continue to see ethnic flavors push the envelope in terms of culinary inspirations and eventually products on the shelf,” said Mateen, the marketing manager of sweet flavors for Sensient Flavors, Hoffman Estates, Ill.
But there’s still work to do in the dairy category. In Decker’s article, Anton Angelich, group vice president of marketing for Virginia Dare, said, “The mainstreaming of emerging international flavors within the dairy category will be a gradual process.”

Though mass media and social media can heighten consumers’ awareness of new and unknown foods, “it really takes the actual trial of cooking and tasting for something to catch on,” he said.

Mateen also said, that Greek-style yogurt is “a perfect vehicle” for ethnic flavors, pointing to savory Greek yogurt dips that have gone “beyond traditional flavors and are compelling ethnic fusions.”

Read more from Decker’s article on ethnic flavors here.

Unique flavor combos, seasonal flavors are trends in ice cream

As we head into July, which is National Ice Cream Month, ice cream manufacturers are showcasing some of their most out-of-the box ice cream flavors yet. The ethnic and culinary influences are on full display.

Like with Tillamook, Tillamook, Ore., and its new Cinnamon Horchata and Salted Butterscotch flavors. Oakland, Calif.-based Häagen-Dazs has a new Artisan ice cream collection that features flavors like Tres Leches Brigadeiro (a decadent sauce and swirl blended into tres leches ice cream); Applewood Smoked Caramel Almond (swirls of smoked Applewood caramel sauce combined with roasted, salted almonds in a sweet cream ice cream); and Chocolate Caramelized Oat (chocolate caramelized oat clusters, blended into caramel ice cream).

As we reported in our March issue, seasonal flavors and inclusions are also taking center stage.

Hudsonville Creamery & Ice Cream Co., Holland, Mich. features many unique flavors and inclusions in its year-round offerings, like Candy Bar Whirl (with candy bar pieces and caramel), Caramel Deer Traxx (includes caramel-filled chocolate cups) and Sea Side Caramel (which includes caramel sea salt truffles.)
Though certainly not new, seasonal and limited-edition flavors are growing among many brands. Processors use this method to test out new flavors or to generate excitement that ties into a specific season.

Hudsonville makes seasonal and limited-time flavors really work to its advantage. It offers a variety of limited-edition flavors throughout the year. Many which are inspired by the change of the seasons, while others feature flavors developed in exclusive partnership with prominent organizations, such as Grand Hotel of Mackinac Island (Grand Hotel Pecan Ball), the Detroit Tigers MLB Baseball Club (Tiger Traxx) and the Chicago Bears NFL Football Club (Bear Traxx).

Read more from Flavors (and inclusions) rule the ice cream market, and check back next month for more special reports on what’s happening in ice cream.