Seasonal Flavors: Trends of Spring

June 18, 2020
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Easter bunnies and marshmallow peeps, decadent chocolate and refreshing fruit flavors. Engrained in our memories as common reminders of spring, we’re taking a look at what classics have remained and what has changed. From social distancing’s impact on Easter celebrations to vegan chocolate and innovative product introductions, let’s dive into what has bloomed this Spring and see how it can help you move forward.

Spring’s Top Flavors in Seasonal & LTOs

Top Flavors by Number of Releases

North America, Spring 2020

  • Marshmallow

  • Lemon

  • Almond

  • Cookies & Cream

  • Raspberry

  • Hazelnut

  • Peanut Butter

  • Chocolate

Fastest Growing Flavors: Globally

Seasonal Products, Q1 2019 vs. Q1 2020

  • Sprinkles: +600%

  • Mayonnaise: +500%

  • Shortcake: +400%

  • Grape: +400%

  • Frangipane/Frangipani: +400%

  • Olive: +300%

Fastest Growing Flavors: North America

Seasonal Products, Q1 2019 vs. Q1 2020

  • Sea Salt: +500%

  • Gingerbread: +400%

  • Wine (Rosé): +200%

  • Almond: +175%

  • Blueberry: +150%

  • Milk: +100%

The Easter Effect

Bunnies, chicks, bright colors and sweet flavors - spring means Easter releases. Family favorites such as jelly beans, chocolate eggs and gummy candy are long-term staples for many Easter traditions. And as a prime candidate for the perfect gift from the Easter bunny, chocolate confectionery ranks first in top categories. Bakery, snacks, alcoholic beverages, and sugar & gum confectionery follow behind.

37% of US consumers buy Easter themed chocolate – Mintel

Top Easter Themed IRIS Sellers:

  • Nest Eggs Pieces in Milk Chocolate

  • Hot Tamales Fierce Cinnamon Flavored Marshmallow

  • Marshmallow Flavored Cereal with Marshmallows

  • Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Mini Bunny Bites

  • Bunny Tails Premium Sugar Cookie Kit

“Easter is a good time for sugar confectionery brands to cater to sharing occasions, considering it is a very family-oriented and social celebration.” – Mintel

Beyond Bunnies

Popular spring sellers go beyond celebrated bunny shaped confectionery and sweet treats. Alcohol to energy drinks, cookies and more, spring releases spread across all categories. See below for more top IRIS sellers we’ve spotted.

1,745 Global Seasonal & LTO releases this Spring

Top Spring Sellers IRIS

  • Red Bull Watermelon Energy Drink

  • Tiramisu Flavor Creme Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

  • Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Green Colored Creme with Glitter and Popping Candy Sandwich Cookies

  • Mystery Fruit Flavored Snack Assortment

  • Lucky Charms Cookie Dough

  • Coca-Cola Flavored Mints

  • Reuben Flavored Potato Crisps

  • Neverending Haze IPA

  • Organic Pizza Cheddar Bunnies Baked Snack Crackers

  • Fantastic Fruit Flavor Cereal with Glittery Sparkles

  • Lemon Myrtle & Cherry Blossom Hard Apple Cider

Celebrating Differently

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, families were forced to distance themselves during this year’s spring celebrations. In fact, shelter-in-place and social distancing could have actually increased purchasing in Easter seasonal/LTO products. Whether to continue to spread Easter holiday cheer or as a way to celebrate or indulge, consumers still found interest in Easter food and beverage product purchasing.
"What makes Easter even more intriguing, especially during this era of social distancing, are the chances that consumers will purchase an Easter food gift for themselves instead of for someone else. Packaged Facts found that along with Thanksgiving and Halloween, Easter is among the occasions almost as popular with Americans for self-gifting as they are for gifting to others.” – PR Newswire

Coconut & Lemon

Coconut and lemon are a few flavors that appeared in seasonal products this spring, showing positive consumer perception. Both flavors ranked high in consumer sentiment according to Infegy Atlas, with coconut at 90% positivity and lemon at 80% positivity.

Products of Note:

Tate’s Bake Shop Lemon Cookies: These lemon cookies are now available in a limited edition for Spring 2020. The cookies are described as thin, crispy and deeply delicious. 38% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Cookies United Sweet Lemon Layers Cake Bites: These cake bites feature layers of drizzled white icing, lemon icing, lemon cake, vanilla cake and lemon jelly. 30% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Powerade Strawberry & Lemon Sports Drink: Formulated to hydrate fast, this drink contains four electrolytes and a refreshing strawberry and lemon flavor. 39% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Chobani Pineapple Coconut Greek Yogurt: Chobani’s yogurt features a coconut flavor and has less than 1% fat. The product is high in protein and a source of calcium. 41% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Coconut Cheerios: This special edition coconut flavored cereal has whole grain as the first ingredient and is free from artificial colors and flavors.

On the Menu

We’ve spotted innovative LTOS & spring releases in food services and dining ranging from flamin’ hot tacos to animal cookie inspired ice cream.

  • Starbucks Salted Honey Cold Foam: Nitro Cold topped with salted honey cold foam and a strike of toasted honey. Trend Hunter notes it as having " the right amount of sweetness to complement the espresso, while also delivering exquisite texture."

  • Starbucks Iced Pineapple & Ginger Drinks: Includes ginger, pineapple and turmeric flavors, shaken with coconut milk and ice.

    • 86% Positive social media sentiment

  • Frosted Animal Cookie Blizzard: This frozen treat features vanilla soft serve blended with frosted animal cookie pieces and pink confetti frosting.

    • 83% positive social media sentiment

  • Taco Bell Flamin' Hot Doritos Locos Tacos: Taco Bell describes this product as “A Flamin’ Hot Doritos-inspired taco shell filled with seasoned beef, lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese”

    • 91% positive social media sentiment

Easter Bunny Goes Vegan

In our 2019 spring flavors report, we mentioned opportunity in vegan formulations, and we have continued to see this as a trend. With plant-based eating continuing to increase in popularity, Easter releases have started to include vegan alternatives. This could also lead to opportunity in seasonal vegan product development for holidays such as Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day treats.
“Over the past year, vegan chocolate has made the move from margins to mainstream, with a number of manufacturers launching vegan, non-dairy equivalents of their popular dairy milk chocolate products.” - Mintel

Product of Note:

Asda Choc Easter Bunny: Asda’s Chocolate Easter Bunny Egg is milk-, egg- and gluten-free. The chocolate flavored bunny is suitable for vegans and contains no artificial colors, flavors or hydrogenated fat. | UK

The Takeaways

Though spring shaped up to be a bit different this year with stay-at-home orders impacting Easter celebrations and spring traditions, in the food and beverage space, much stayed true. Sugar and chocolate confectionery continue to be a go-to staple for bright and cheery Easter baskets, while the push towards vegan treats is still a hot topic among consumers and developers. But not everything has stayed the same - innovation in seasonal products and LTOs has showed exciting flavor features from pineapple ginger to flamin’ hot Cheetos, coconut and lemon. With many of these refreshing and fruity flavors carrying on into the summer months, how can these spring innovations inspire your summer product developments and beyond?

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Sources in full report