Seasonal Flavors : Trends of Winter

March 10, 2020
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Seasonal flavors have a way of living on beyond the occasions that inspire them. Experiential and often nostalgic, innovative or truly unique – seasonal and LTO flavors inspire product developers and consumers alike. From indulgence’s presence in growing flavors to the influence of gingerbread and champagne — we’re exploring the flavor innovation and attention-worthy releases of the winter season with an eye towards lessons and actions for your future products.

Growing Categories

Winter is naturally a time for holiday indulgence. Interestingly, indulgent categories like confections and bakery saw many more launches in winter 2019 compared with the year before. Product developers might be well-placed to find the whitespace in these indulgent launches or lean towards health and wellness positioning to stand out on an indulgence-inundated shelf.

Product Launch Growth

Seasonal & LTO Products, North America Q42019 vs Q42018

  • Chocolate Confectionery +1166%

  • Sugar & Gum Confections +1000%

  • Bakery + 761%

  • Dairy +340%

  • Desserts & Ice Cream +180%

  • Hot Beverages +125%


The fastest growing flavors scream “indulgence.” Up more than 200% are flavors of fudge, cream, gingerbread, coconut and sugar to name a few.

Fastest Growing Flavors

Seasonal & LTO Products, North America Q42019 vs Q42018

  • Fudge +1200%

  • Cream/Whipped Cream +400%

  • Ginger +300%

  • Sugar +228%

  • Gingerbread +212%

  • Coconut +200%

Gingerbread for Everyone!

With use of ginger flavor up 300% YOY and gingerbread up 212% YOY in seasonal items, its presence was clearly felt this winter season. With products from vodka to artisanal popcorn to artificially-flavored marshmallows, the versatility and broad appeal of the flavor was on full display.

Three of the IRIS top sellers of the season featured this taste: Krispy Kreme mini crullers in gingerbread flavor and Skinny Pop Popcorn with Gingerbread Cookie flavor, and Gingerbread-flavored Captain Morgan Rum.

Other Products of Note

Pop Art Gingerbread Caramel Popcorn launched in January 2020 and is described as an air-popped gourmet popcorn using artisan-inspired tastes.

Veil Gingerbread Flavored Vodka launched in January 2020 and is a limited-edition, seasonal product said to be masterfully distilled five times.

Consumer Response: 43% of consumers asked said they likely or definitely would buy this product

Grenade Carb Killa Gingerbread Flavour High Protein Bar includes ginger flavor with milk and white chocolate.

Great Value Holiday Gingerbread Marshmallows launched in December 2019 and are artificially flavored.

Consumer Response: 49% of consumers asked said they likely or definitely would buy this product

A Season of Champagne & Rosé  (Flavor)

Champagne, Rosé & Prosecco flavors popped up in unique launches this winter. Consumers have a positive reaction when they first see these flavors: Champagne, prosecco and/or rosé flavored products were viewed as 11.6% higher for the attribute of unique and 7.2% higher for the attribute of premium according to purchase intelligence.

Products of Note:

Sugarfina Rosé All Day Bears were released for Valentine’s Day 2020 and use rosé wine and natural flavor. USA

Consumer Response: 22% of consumers asked said they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Maud Borup Prosecco Cotton Candy uses sugar, prosecco flavor and artificial flavors to deliver its taste.

Consumer Response: 32% of consumers asked said they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Emporium Selection Champagne Cheddar Cheese is an imported English cheddar featuring champagne flavor.

Consumer Response: 44% of consumers asked said they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Sparkling Citrus Flutes Champagne-flavored Lemon Sorbet launched in February 2020 and features champagne, citrus and lemon flavor.

Consumer Response: 53% of consumers asked said they likely or definitely would buy this product.

The Takeaways

It’s perhaps no surprise that indulgence showed clear influence this winter – this was the holiday season after all. What is noteworthy is the innovation and versatility taking shape in seasonal flavors. Champagne, rose and prosecco showed up in unexpected places, adding a premium fizz across categories. Meanwhile, gingerbread spanned the spectrum of product as well, showing that a tried-and-true flavor can still garner a sense of newness. Is there an opportunity to expand the horizons of a seasonal flavor in your product development? Does the focus on indulgence open space for a health-focused launch next winter? Whatever you decide, the experts at FONA are here to help guide you with actionable insights and high-quality taste solutions.

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Let FONA’s market insight and research experts get to work for you. Translate these trends into bold new ideas for your brand. Increase market share and get to your “what’s next.” Our technical flavor and product development experts are also at your service to help meet the labeling and flavor profile needs for your products to capitalize on this consumer trend. Let’s mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution.

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Sources in full report