Taste experts reveal sports nutrition flavour inspirations for 2020

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / iprogressman
© Getty Images / iprogressman

Related tags Flavour Sports nutrition Trends Npd

Carob, baklava, fig and rum and raisin are just a few of the potential Mediterranean flavour trends that could enter the sports nutrition market in 2020 and beyond, according to a new report from taste experts Synergy Flavours.

Following last year's report​, the global supplier and manufacturer of flavours, extracts and essences has revealed its Flavors of the Future 2020 report to help sports nutrition innovators create exciting NPD. 

Harvesting ideas and inspiration from bloggers, food writers and futurologists the report has discovered some of the top trending flavours and compared these with 'real' data including product launches and global search trends. The result is a list of inspirational flavour trends that the company believes could translate to the sport nutrition category.

The flavour experts have also looked at these on a molecular level to test the compatibility between flavours and the report provides pairings suggestions to provide further NPD inspiration.

Chris Whiting, category manager at Synergy, explains why it's so important for sports nutrition innovators to discover truly pioneering flavour combinations. 

He says: "Developing products that contain new or emerging flavors appeal to the adventurous sports nutrition consumer and can help our customers to stand out in the increasingly competitive sports nutrition market."

Last year's report concentrated on fashions from America but this year the team travelled closer to home for some Mediterranean inspiration.


First discussing the flavour trends that are very much in their infancy and 'ahead of the curve', Synergy points out that the top four on-trend dessert flavours are: Brownie, Oreo cupcake, Baklava and salted caramel cookie (Grubhub America 2018).

The report therefore suggests that an emerging flavour trend for sports nutrition could be baklava - a sweet Greek dessert made from honey, filo pastry and nuts.

Although this is one of the most iconic desserts of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, Synergy argues it has yet to reach its full potential elsewhere.

"Baklava is poised to make the jump into the mainstream as consumer familiarity has been increasing through a combination of interest in Mediterranean cuisine and exposure through social media." 

Recommended pairings for this flavour are orange blossom, rose, or maple syrup.

Another flavour very much in its early stages but one which Synergy sees enticing many consumers, is Gianduja.

Made from a mixture of chocolate and hazelnut, gianduja is most famously known through the classic Nutella spread but in Italy there are a whole host of other gianduja products. Synergy argues this has global appeal especially with well recognised paired flavours such as vanilla, peanut, or rum.


The report also names three 'growing' flavour trends which are a little more established but still not yet in the mainstream. The first is 'Forest Honey', also known as pine or honeydew honey is probably one of the most unique honey varietals because it is made by bees which collect sugary deposits left by insects from the sap of pine trees.

Synergy points out that honey is a popular flavor, particularly due to its perceived healthiness, but the added spin and unique story of forest honey is sure to attract consumers.

It recommends pairing with dark chocolate, rose, or orange blossom.

The second flavour in the 'growing' list is carob - a flavour which Synergy argues is a natural pairing for sports nutrition due to its similarity to cocoa powder.

The report states: "Carob's familiar but unique twist to typical chocolate flavoured products gives it the potential to really hit the mark with consumers looking for alternatives to standard milk chocolate profiles." 

Suggested flavour pairings for carob are coffee, dark chocolate, and rum.

Thirdly, Rum and raisin, a classic ice cream flavour which originated in the Mediterranean but has already spread globally in dessert form but next it could scoop sales in sports nutrition, Synergy says.

"With the increase in cross-category pollination, we’re beginning to see this flavor profile appear in other sweet categories and we predict that is has the potential to be a popular sports nutrition profile."

The report suggests pairing flavours of vanilla, honey, or maple.


Discussing some more 'mainstream' flavour trends, the report points to the somewhat exotic citrus fruit - Bergamot. Most famous outside of the Mediterranean as the principal flavour of Earl Grey Tea, Synergy says consumers are becoming more interested in alternative citrus flavours.

"Globally, there is a move away from typical lemons and limes to more distinctive citrus profiles, which has led to a number of launches worldwide, featuring bergamot in a range of categories with numerous highly unique flavor combinations," ​states the report, adding that ideal pairings include grapefruit, tangerine, or rosemary.

Moving even further from the sweet flavours we're used to seeing in sports nutrition, Synergy argues that feta cheese is making its way int NPD across multiple categories and sports nutrition could be next.

The report states: "It’s distinctive, salty tang is derived from the ageing process which makes it a popular flavour across the globe, particularly when paired with other Mediterranean flavours such as black pepper, olives or tomatoes."

Whiting explains why the new report includes a savoury flavour.

"In our previous edition of Flavors of the Future we focused on sweet flavors only, however following the high profile launch of products such as Grenade’s Piri Piri bar, we expect to see more savoury sports nutrition products. As such, we have developed a vegetarian bar prototype which demonstrates a feta flavour paired with tomato and olive in a seasoning. The feta flavour could also have applications in other savoury products such as high protein soups."

Ingredients suggested as a great match for this flavour include: Tomato, olives and apple

Returning back to to sweet fruity flavours, Synergy also names fig as a mainstream trend. Usually consumed dried, as jams, or bakery products, the report says this has potential in other categories, especially when paired with cinnamon, cardamom and guava.


Discussing some of the fashionable flavours which are already well established, Synergy points to the pomegranate. With seeds a popular garnish for many salads in a number of eateries the fruit is also increasingly being used in juice drinks and the report states that this is due to the associated health benefits of the fruits.

Synergy suggests pomegranate typically works best when paired with more familiar flavors such as apples, raspberries and black tea in order to widen its appeal.

Another well established fruit flavour trend, according to the report, is apricot. Synergy argues that while this has be a well recognised ingredients for many years it is now entering new categories such as drinks, desserts and ice creams – increase.

Whilst peach is the most common pairing for apricot, the flavour experts also starting to see apricot products launch which pair the fruit with rose or coconut or botanicals such as basil, thyme.

Whiting adds: "Something like apricot can function in a BCAA base if paired with lighter flavours more suitable for an acidic base – e.g. rose. Alternatively when paired with flavours such as coconut, or yogurt the creamy indulgence would make it suitable for whey protein beverages or even protein bars."

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