Seasonal Flavors: Trends of Summer

September 16, 2021
Trends Innovation
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From frozen treats to get you through the heat, a burger and potato chips at your family cookout to gooey roasted s’mores as you cozy up next to the bonfire. Food and beverages like these are staples of summer, and consumers continue to search for seasonal and limited-edition product introductions that excite and provide summertime fun. From heat and spice inspired flavors to sweet tropical introductions and more, let’s take a look at this summer’s top flavors and sellers and see where you can find inspiration for your brand for this season and beyond.

Summer’s Top Flavors in Seasonal & LTOs

Top Flavors by Number of Releases:

North America, Summer 2021

  • Blue Raspberry

  • Lemon & Poppy Seed

  • Barbecue/BBQ/Barbacoa

  • S’mores

  • Blueberry

  • Cherry & Limeade

  • Orange/Sweet Orange & Vanilla Bourbon/Vanilla Madagascar

  • Caramel/Caramelised

  • Strawberry

  • Siracha (Hot Chili Sauce)

Fastest Growing Flavors: North America

Seasonal & Limited-Edition Products, Q2 2020 vs Q2 2021

  • Vanilla/Vanilla Bourbon/Vanilla Madagascar +500%

  • Mint +300%

  • Sugar +200%

  • Apple +200%

  • Raspberry +200%

  • Caramel/Caramelised +150%

Fastest Growing Flavors: Globally

Seasonal & Limited-Edition Products, Q2 2020 vs. Q2 2021

  • Hot +600%

  • Cashew (Nut) +500%

  • Soy Sauce/Shoyu +400%

  • Mushroom +400%

  • Lemonade +400%

  • Apricot +350%

Seasonal Favorites

Datassential asked consumers “Which flavors or specific menu items do you associate with and look forward to having when that season or holiday comes around?”

For summer, consumer answers revolved heavily around fresh fruit and drinks as seen in the word map in our report.

Top Sellers in Seasonal & LTO

Mintel’s global IRIS Top Sellers highlight summer seasonal favorites as well as a few summer flavors with unexpected twists. From salted caramel brownie to watermelon mojito and more, let’s take a look.

Top Seasonal Sellers: IRIS

Oreo Salted Caramel Brownie Sandwich Cookies

Pringles Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Potato Crisps

Lays Jerk Chicken Flavored Potato Chips

Lays Summer BLT Flavor Potato Chips

Kit Kat Crisp Wafers in Fruity Cereal

Belvita Lemon Poppy Seed Breakfast Biscuits

Wendy’s Baconator Potato Crisps

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Original Glazed Doughnut Flavored Popcorn

Twinkies Lemonade Stand Golden Sponge Cake

Polar Watermelon Mojito Seltzer

Parmesan Ranch Flavored Cheesy Baked Snacks

Blueberry Crisp Cookies

Smoked Bacon & Cheddar Flavored Cheesy Baked Snacks

Frosted Berry Flavored Frosted and Sweetened Whole Grain Oat Cereal

Top Global Categories

  • Snacks

  • Bakery

  • Alcoholic Beverages

  • Chocolate Confectionery

“Seasonality is an important attribute when consumers look for new things. About two in five (41%) of consumers value seasonal flavors and appropriate sourcing when they are considering a limited-time offer or an item they have never tried before” - Datassential

Summertime Fun at Home

This year’s summer sightings included vacation and summertime inspired products of note. As many consumers are still wary of travel as the pandemic wanes, seasonal and limited-edition offerings that feature tropical and global flavors have allowed them to get a taste of vacation from home.

We also spotted offerings that evoke nostalgic summertime fun such as lemonade stand inspired treats and classic childhood ice pops with a twist. Food and beverage developers found opportunity in bringing about relaxation and getaways at-home through these innovative offerings.

Products of Note:

Krispy Cream Island Time Doughnuts are a tropical inspired doughnut collection including Pina Colada, Island Time and Key Lime Pie flavors. The doughnut shop invites consumers to travel to the tropics with their tastebuds with this summertime offering.

My Mochi Globally Inspired Ice Cream feature a rice mochi dough stuffed with ice cream. The ice cream comes in coconut, horchata and guava flavors at 100 calories per piece.

Bud Light Frozen Icicles Seltzer Assortment features cherry limeade, blue raspberry and summer ice flavored icicles in a tie dye recyclable pack. The limited-edition product contains 30 calories and 3g of sugar per serving.

32% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product

Sol Tropical Tropical Hibiscus Flavored Tea is free from caffeine and is a kosher certified product. The product is available for a limited time.

55% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Hostess Lemonade Stand Twinkies feature golden sponge cake with lemon creamy filling in an individually wrapped pack. The product is a limited edition offering for summer.

56% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Heating Things Up

The temperature this summer wasn’t the only thing rising – consumer interest in hot and spicy flavors in the food and beverage space continued to rise in popularity. In fact, we spotted a 600% increase in “Hot” flavored seasonal and limited-edition products from Q2 2020 to Q2 2021.

We especially saw this in snack products such as chips and crackers, but also spotted this trend in alcoholic beverages, frozen treats and more. Hot and spicy flavor profiles have been of interest for consumers for some time now, and as demand grows, food and beverage developers can find much opportunity in this space both in seasonal products and LTOs and everyday offerings.

Products of Note:

Goldfish Frank’s RedHot Original Flavored Baked Snack Crackers are said to offer the perfect blend of flavor and heat. The limited-edition product retails in a 6.6 oz bag.

41% of consumers in our panel responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Prasek’s Family Smokehouse Pork & Beef Summer Sausage with Cheese & Jalapeno is a ready to eat snack free from MSG.

32% of consumers responded they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Doritos Dinamita Flamin’ Hot Queso rolled tortilla chips are made with corn, cheddar cheese, buttermilk, romano cheese and a blend of spices. The product is available for a limited time only.

Sun Daze Spicy Citrus Cocktail is an alcoholic beverage that blends Valencia orange juice, rosemary and peppery ginger in a botanical citrus cocktail. The alcoholic drink provides vitamin C, antioxidants and probiotics without added sugars.

Flavor Highlights – Orange Cream/Orange Vanilla

A nostalgic flavor reminiscent of orange dreamsicles and orange sherbet, Orange/Sweet Orange & Vanilla Bourbon/Vanilla Madagascar made the list on North America’s top flavors for Summer 2021. This flavor combo can be spotted in categories ranging from alcoholic beverages to bakery and more.

Products of Note:

Captain Morgan Orange Vanilla Twist Rum is a summer edition rum featuring orange/sweet orange and vanilla/vanilla bourbon/vanilla Madagascar flavors.

33% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Coors Orange Cream Pop Hard Seltzer features natural flavor and provides 90 calories and is gluten free. The limited edition product claims to partner with Change the Course to restore billions of gallons of water back to America’s rivers.

28% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Orange Crush Bundt Cake features an orange crush flavored cake with a frosting glaze on top. The product contains 320 calories per serving.

Orange Cream Donuts were released at Hy-Vee Supermarkets as their July donut of the month. The donut was a limited-edition offering.

Orange Cream Consumer Sentiment

  • 49.1k posts including #orangecream on Instagram

“We’re experiencing a renaissance of these nostalgic flavors—peanut butter, orange creamsicle, grape cotton candy—in concepts like hard coffee, energy drinks, and craft soda.” – Nutritional Outlook

Flavor Highlight – Lemon & Poppy Seed

Lemon & poppy seed was another flavor that landed on the list of North America’s top flavors for new product introductions in Summer 2021. Though the flavor is likely most notable for lemon poppy seed muffins, it can inspire inspiration for products such as bars, protein cookies, dressings and more. Let’s take a look.

Products of Note:

Belvita Lemon Poppy Seed Breakfast Biscuits are now available for a limited time. The limited edition product is described as a summer twist and a nutritious, convenient breakfast choice baked with wholesome grains and delivers steady energy.

46% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Favorite Day Gourmet Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are a limited offering that is said to be naturally and artificially flavored. The product retails in a 14 oz pack with four units.

46% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Perfect Snacks Lemon Poppy Seed Perfect Bar was launched in summer of 2020 as a limited-edition offering. The bar, described as a refreshing whole-food protein bar, was included in Summer Variety Pack along with the Cherry Pie flavored bar.

Lemon Poppy Seed Consumer Sentiment 

  • 36% of consumers love or like this flavor

  • 72% know this flavor

  • 50% have tried this flavor

  • 61.1K posts including ‘#lemonpoppyseed” on Instagram

The Takeaways

This season’s summer product introductions and offerings featured bright and fruity flavors, tropical profiles, and quite a bit of heat. While many consumers continue to delay their travel plans due to the pandemic, tropical and global inspired flavors meet a craving for adventure. On the other hand, consumer interest in hot and spicy flavors has soared. Other nostalgic and indulgent flavor offerings such as orange cream alcoholic beverages and lemon poppy seed baked goods have seen popularity in the summer seasonal and LTO space. Many of these flavors will inspire innovation for the upcoming months, so the question is, how can these summer innovations inspire your fall seasonal product developments and beyond?

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Sources in full report