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Sweet on Savory: Savory Flavors Gain Fans in Snack Foods

Sweet on Savory: Savory Flavors Gain Fans in Snack Foods

Spinach chive tea, mushroom thyme scones, sage-infused snack bars: Expect to see packaged foods take on more of a savory profile in the coming months as the aromatic taste shows up in unique — even odd — places.

“Consumers are starting to enjoy more balanced foods,” said Kara Nielsen, trendologist with the Center for Culinary Development, San Francisco. “Using savory to balance out sweetness is seen as both a sign of sophistication and something that’s more fun to eat.”

Part of the demand is coming from the consumer desire for acceptable substitutes as they gravitate from meals to snacks. All that constant nibbling can’t be sweet things, nor overly salty. Savory has emerged as a cultural phenomenon that has ramifications throughout the supply chain.

“Palates are evolving and appreciating a host of new flavor sensations,” said Nielsen.

One recent example of this demand comes from Numi Organic Tea, which brought savory to the beverage category in March when it introduced a line of seven savory teas made with organic vegetables and herbs. Besides spinach chive, there’s beet cabbage and broccoli cilantro.

“It’s a truly unique tea experience,” states the company.

U.S. consumers’ acceptance of savory in unconventional foods can be traced back to the mid-’90s, when fine chocolates enlivened with herbs and spices first began appearing on store shelves. And, as savory continues to build momentum, it’s bound to meet sweetness in the middle. Nielsen notes that at least one restaurant in her area has created a miso butterscotch to use on desserts.

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