Mint flavors are among the leading flavors in a broad variety of products around the world. They are most prevalent in the breath freshening category of gum and mints, and oral care products where they are most often paired with cooling agents. Mint can also be found in many healthcare products where the strength of the mint flavor is often used to mask off-notes of functional ingredients. Additionally, mint is used to support the reason to believe in a product aiding in digestive health. Lastly, mint is also positioned as an indulgent flavor in sweet goods and beverages where it is often paired with indulgent icons like chocolate.
Mint is the leading flavor in breath freshening products within the confectionery category. In the gum and mint category, 76% of consumers are seeking an improvement in breath freshening and list it as their primary consumption driver according to a recent Mintel survey. So, it’s no wonder mint flavors combined with cooling dominate.
In North America, unspecified mint is the leading flavor. Unspecified mint usually is a peppermint dominant mint blend (often a sweet mint or a peppermint with some herbal notes). Peppermint is the second most common flavor identified in new product introductions with spearmint the third most common flavor. While cinnamon and other spices are not technically mint, they offer a similar freshening value proposition to consumers and are therefore considered among the mint category. Cinnamon is in the top 10 flavors featured in gum and mint products although not as prevalent as the others. Up and coming freshening components include flavors such as eucalyptus, menthol, ginger and tea flavors. Popular mint pairings include a variety of fruit flavors, especially citrus.
In other regions, mint, peppermint, and spearmint still dominate with some variations by region. In Europe for example, cinnamon is not nearly as popular in breath freshening products. The current surge in the use of warm spices in the European oral care segment however, might change that in the near future. In Europe, more highly mentholated products are much more popular than in the U.S. Herbal mints, eucalyptus, tea flavors and the use of chlorophyll to enhance a freshening proposition are significantly more popular.
In Asia Pacific, the leading flavor “mint”, includes more mint profiles that can be considered to have herbal notes. Peppermint and spearmint are still extremely popular but rank behind strawberry and lemon in leading flavors. Menthol is very popular as is the use of tea flavors to enhance a freshening or oral care proposition.
Mint flavors are even more dominant in the oral care segment. In general, non-descript mint is the leader across regions which primarily refers to a peppermint dominant, signature mint profile unique to the brand. Spearmint is not quite as popular but has recently surged as big brands try to differentiate their products. Like in gum, blue and green communicate to consumers whether to expect more peppermint or more spearmint in a uniquely named product. Non-mint flavors like bubble-gum and berry are also popular in the oral care segment and are often combined with light mint and/or cooling in products for kids.
In North America, herbal type flavors are growing in popularity although they are still not as common as in other regions. Non-specified “herbal” is used most. Eucalyptus and flavors labeled simply as “spice” are also growing.
In Europe, menthol is among the top five flavors. Spearmint and peppermint are popular but herbs/herbal flavors are in the top three flavors. Mint flavors are more popular in Western Europe where fruit flavors are more popular in Eastern European oral care products. Flavors like raspberry, citrus, lime, aloe, and green tea are emerging for more specialty products.
In APAC, unspecified mint, strawberry and spearmint are among the leading flavors featured in new products. Tea flavors are extremely popular in the oral care segment in China with green tea among the top 5 flavors. The top growing flavor from 2013-2014 is salt. New products including salt in the ingredients have been introduced touting benefits of preventing plaque and improving gum health. Many of the salt based products are paired with bamboo for whitening benefits. Additional products are now including volcanic ingredients to prevent inflammation, whiten teeth, dissolve plaque and tartar, and provide antibacterial properties.
In the healthcare segment, mint flavors are most popular in digestive treatments such as anitacids where the mint profile supports the value proposition of soothing and settling. Like other categories, unspecified mint is the leader with peppermint a close second. Spearmint is not as popular but still among the top 10 flavors along with a host of standard OTC (over the counter) fruit flavors like cherry, grape, citrus, berry, and vanilla.
Mint is also popular in various vitamins and supplements where the strength of mint profile aids in masking off notes and preventing unpleasant reflux. Here, unspecified mint is the far and away leader but most are peppermint dominant, sweet mint profiles. In the cough & cold segments, menthol is a major ingredient aligning with mint profiles.
In healthcare, chocolate and mint is the most popular mint pairing. Most other mint products are singular flavors. As the use of citrus and mint combinations as well as herbal and spiced mint grows in breath freshening and oral care, we may see an emergence of new mint profiles in healthcare as well.
Sweet mint and peppermint dominant “mint” is a safe choice for a variety of products across the world. Peppermint and spearmint are also relatively safe bets, although peppermint and “mint” might be better suited to products that feature efficacy claims. The opportunity for unique mint profiles exists in the healthcare segment following key trends in breath freshening and oral care. Accenting mint profiles with citrus, herbal or tea notes can create a signature profile to make a product stand out among its competitors and private label counterparts. There is also room to differentiate by tapping in to warm spices which offer consumers similar benefits for freshening, soothing, and masking.
Let FONA’s market insight and research experts translate these trends into product category ideas for your brand. They can help you with concept and flavor pipeline development, ideation, consumer studies and white space analysis to pinpoint opportunities in the market. Our 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. We understand how to mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution. From concept to manufacturing, we’re here every step of the way. Contact our Sales Service Department at 630.578.8600 to request a flavor sample or visit www.fona.com.