New consumer research from Kerry has revealed that botanical extracts generate several emotions with consumers including energy, excitement, creativity, and fun. The research, which uncovers the psychology behind botanical preferences and the perceived benefits consumers derive from consuming botanical food and beverages, examined 44 emotions that consumers associate with botanical extracts.

Botanicals have been used for centuries and are now widely used in a variety of emerging and nostalgic foods and beverages, with a 46 percent increase in beverages containing botanical extracts between 2017 and last year. The global market for botanical beverages and foods is expected to reach USD $1,489.3bn by 2025. There is a wide range of flavors and ingredients that are associated with botanicals including herbs (e.g. mint, rosemary, and thyme), roots and barks (turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger), plants and trees (e.g. aloe vera, coconut tree) and flowers (e.g. rose, chamomile, and hibiscus).

Kerry surveyed over 6,500 consumers across 12 countries in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Africa to discover attitudes towards over 55 botanicals.

The research shows that botanical flavors connect with consumers on a highly positive level, beyond flavor and taste. Consumers also think about botanicals as being energetic, interesting, useful, trustworthy, and safe. For example, a beverage with guarana, ginseng, and ginger can carry a similar connotation of ‘energy’ as a coffee or energy drink would to the consumer. Meanwhile, ingredients such as saffron, bergamot, and honey are considered premium.

Commenting on the research, Leigh-Anne Vaughan, global taste marketing director said: “The link between taste and emotions is widely accepted by experts. Botanical flavors connect with consumers at a very positive level, beyond flavor and taste, and our research shows that these flavors appeal to over 97 percent of consumers globally. Negative emotions such as repulsive, boring, disappointing were the least suggestive of botanicals.”

The research uncovered emotions associated with 55 botanicals and their corresponding perceived health benefits and highlight the resulting opportunities for innovative product development.

“In a very busy marketplace, brands are constantly attempting to stand out and interestingly 87 percent of consumers say that botanicals provide a unique taste experience. Meanwhile, according to Innova research, the use of botanicals in front of pack will result in a 23 percent price premium. Formulating with botanicals can certainly win consumer hearts, especially by using top appealing flavors such as mint, honey and cinnamon. Manufacturers should emphasize the link between botanical flavor, their corresponding emotions and health benefits they evoke to create flavors that meet consumers’ daypart and occasion needs. These insights can be leveraged to connect with consumers to deliver a stronger taste experience in food and beverages and aid in product development,” added Vaughan.

Kerry has long-standing expertise in sourcing and processing botanicals over the world, with a portfolio of more than 120 from tinctures, infusions, distillates and extracts to deliver various aromatic profiles and blends. 

The new report can be downloaded here.