Falls ultimate flavor is back and bigger than ever. While pumpkin has traditionally held the biggest foothold in the bakery category, we’re now seeing a shift into new categories: including snacks, breakfast cereals, sauces, seasonings, desserts, and dairy. Snacks, such as bars and mixes, have grown significantly over the last few years. In the drink category, Mintel reports the biggest growth among pumpkin flavored coffee and beer products.
Pumpkin items have an opportunity to succeed when paired with other familiar flavors that aren’t necessarily seasonal. Pumpkin is often paired with different nut types, including almond, cashew, peanut, pecan, and walnut. “Combining pumpkin items with other familiar flavors such as maple or cinnamon is a way brands and restauranteurs are keeping loyal pumpkin fans satisfied while also attracting new customers,” reports Mintel.
Sweet and savory are two of pumpkin’s favorite pairings. Sweets are a popular seasonal dish with pumpkin; cheesecake, pie, ice cream, and muffins have been performing the best since 2015. Savory dishes featuring pumpkin flavors are entering the space as well, with menu items like veggie burgers, fish, pastas, soups, salads, chicken, and beef growing in popularity.
Gluten-free is a popular callout. Since 2015, the incidence of pumpkin as an ingredient in gluten-free menu items has grown substantially compared to other claims such as vegetarian, fresh, seasonal, market, harvest, and crispy.
It’s no secret that when the leaves fall, pumpkin flavors soar. However, the categories in which pumpkin flavors are seeing growth and loss is varying. Brands and retailers will need to continue to innovate and re-imagine the way in which fall’s favorite flavor is offered if they hope to win consumer dollars.