Flavor Trends in Children’s Food and Beverages

Explore the latest flavor trends in children’s food and beverages, including confectionery and bakery trends

Innova’s research has found multiple factors that have driven this year’s flavor trends, including flavor trends in food and beverage products for kids. These trends reveal that consumers still appreciate local and seasonal tastes, adding that brands that opt to overlap tastes can add value, particularly for younger, experimental audiences. Lastly, plant-based demands have increased the variety and prevalence of fruit, vegetable, and nut tastes.

Adventurous Parents’ Flavors

This generation of parents has an adventurous attitude, with moms and dads worldwide suggesting they could stimulate their kids to be more daring. 53% of households with kids said Flavor Trends they look for flavors they have never tried before when grocery shopping, compared to 41% of all other households. Asian households were most likely to agree. However, American households with children over-indexed the most in the US and Canada.

Confectionery Flavor Trends

The clearest flavor trend in the children’s confectionery market is the diversification of fruit tastes, with flavors like red apple, pineapple, and red raspberry all climbing to different heights within the top 20. These flavors aren’t the only ones to show growth, with niche flavors such as pear, blackcurrant, and passion fruit also showing strong growth.

In brown flavor trends, brown flavors are outperforming fruits in kids’ confectionery. Brown flavors are growing at +7% CAGR in the confectionery category. While most flavors are performing well, sour flavors have been in sharp decline when it comes to new product launches.

Dairy Flavor Trends

Activity in the children’s dairy flavor segment is most prevalent in flavored milk, drinking yogurt, soft cheese desserts, and spoonable yogurt. Flavor diversification is most likely in fruit flavors, just like confectionery. Core flavors, such as strawberry, are also impacted by flavor diversification by getting a twist. This twist can look like Wipala’s kids strawberry and spinach Andean fruity bar, offering an enriching experience by adding spinach to the classic strawberry. Over the past five years, new product development (NPD) in children’s dairy flavors has dropped at 8% CAGR. Despite this decline, cheese flavor trends have shown to be an innovative area in Asia, with growth in NPD in fruit-flavored cheeses.

Bakery Flavor Trends

Brown flavor trends dominate the children’s bakery segment, with milk chocolate used in more than 1 in 4 children’s bakery launches. Chocolate has also cemented its #1 share in sweet bakery trends in recent years. Diving deeper into the market, it appears there can be some regional differences. Raspberry is popular as a cake-filling flavor in Europe, while in Latin America, children’s bakery companies use more dulce de leche, a more local and familiar flavor. Asian manufacturers of children’s bakery products tend to be the most adventurous in their flavor choices, where we see examples such as the traditional dessert mochi made from purple sweet potato powder filled with sweet lemon, yogurt, or peach-flavored filling.

Flavors in Bakery – Asia

Flavor choices in Asia can diverge from the global norm when it comes to the bakery segment in children’s food and beverage.

flavor trends

On-Pack Messaging for Kids

On-pack messaging is also undergoing changes. Parents are making an increased effort to educate themselves on the best food for their child, which is reinforced by bans on advertising certain products to children. These bans will lead to an even greater emphasis on delivering healthier child-friendly products, with on-pack messaging that appeals to children as much as their parents.

Parents also seem to have shifted their focus from negative claims – products displaying ‘without’ claims – to positive claims -products displaying ‘with’ – on their packaging, perhaps explaining why no additives and no preservatives claims have lost ground. Additionally, flavors in confectionery, baby and toddlers, and fruit and vegetable segments have grown and reflect contrasting themes of indulgence and health. Globally, West Europe leads in children’s flavor innovation and NPD, but Asia and North America over-index the most compared with their share of total launches.

Niche Flavor Trends

In recent years, NPD in children’s products has declined significantly in cereals, soft drinks, desserts, and ice cream, perhaps in response to growing health considerations. Concurrently, the overriding trend in these markets is the diversification of fruit flavors. Fruits generally have positive health credentials as well as offering scope for experimentation as manufacturers look beyond traditional fruits to deliver greater variety. On the other hand, NPD has held up better in children’s ready meals and side dishes, and children’s snacks.

What’s Next?

As younger parents are revealing themselves to be more adventurous, they are creating more daring children through exploring diverse flavor experiences. Children, who have traditionally been satisfied with core flavors such as chocolate or strawberry, are eating foods with flavors like passion fruit and apricot. This flavor trend among families shows the potential value that can be gained from mixing flavors, either in blends, mixed packs, or flavor-changing concepts.

These explorative flavor trends could help children transition from children’s food to more adult concepts.


This article is based on our report, “Flavor Trends in Children’s Food and Beverages.”
If you are interested in receiving this report, feel free to request a demo through our Contact Form.

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