Demand for organic food ripens in Latin America, Symrise reports

May 2, 2021
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: People in Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico are basing their choices for food on taste, simplicity and transparency, health benefits, and the authenticity and sustainability of natural ingredients. For that, they are willing to pay more.

The Latin American market is beginning to ripen in its demand for natural food and beverage products, which extends opportunities for organic offerings. Flavor producer Symrise has surveyed more than 1,500 consumers in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, with varied flavor preferences. While price remains an important consideration across the region, the survey found that high proportions of survey participants are willing to pay more for products that “embrace true naturalness.”

Variations and commonalities across regional markets

Results from the regional study revealed interesting variations and strong commonalities among the markets. The categories surveyed were sweet goods and dairy; savory and snacks; and beverages. The appeal of specific natural ingredients varied—consumers in Colombia and Mexico attributed more health benefits to aloe in sodas, while local flavors like açaí have gained a foothold in Brazil.

Fruit flavors, especially from the citrus family, deliver key purchasing advantages across the region, with lime, citrus mix, lime blossom, grapefruit and orange noted as highly preferable. Consumers across the board were also found to share common views on ice cream and sherbet, for which 100% natural ingredients are considered to be a healthy “reward.”

In the savory and snacks category, consumers look for quality brands and pay particular attention to labels and ingredients. In Brazil, Symrise found that consumers perceive soups as a healthy snack and useful for weight loss.

For sauces and dressings in Latin America, the study shows that one of the main reasons for buying 100% natural-ingredient products rather than regular ones is taking care of their families and themselves.

However, some local differences in consumer preferences drive purchases in this culinary segment: In Brazil, low salt levels; in Argentina, a simple list of ingredients; in Colombia, made with local ingredients; in Mexico, made from real fruit or vegetables. Sustainability and ethical sourcing remain important across all markets.

Natural products in line with specialized diets

In particular, Symrise reports that Latin American consumers are seeking great taste experiences and are positively influenced to accept a product by the explicit use of words such as “natural,” “organic” and “fresh.” In line with a theme that has already matured in other regional markets, consumers here have begun to reject ingredients with scientific or artificial-sounding names and prefer common and familiar preparation methods.

More consumers in the region are looking for organic and natural foods and beverages that suit their special diets. The study found that between 43% and 49% of consumers hold a health-conscious mindset; look for organic and natural food; follow a special diet like vegan, vegetarian or paleo; and avoid meat and consume more dairy products.

Across Latin America, the concept is associated with a combination of factors based on health benefits, little or no processing, low salt and sodium, no additives or artificial flavorings, as well as sustainability, transparency and authenticity of sources. Clarity and simplicity of ingredients are also important, with consumers responding favorably to products with familiar, easy-to-understand labeling and preparation methods.

Provenance goes hand in hand with natural preferences

Symrise’s natural foods study further indicates that consumers are paying closer attention to the origins of the products they choose and bringing greater knowledge and higher expectations to their decision making.

As highlighted in Innova Market Insights’ Top Trend for 2020, “Storytelling: Winning with Words,” manufacturers are increasingly focusing on ingredient sources and brand storytelling platforms to emphasize the taste and quality of their products, as well as their uniqueness and sustainability efforts.

Next to natural agricultural practices, the market research shows that provenance platforms can communicate a whole range of messages to the consumer, including taste, processing methods, cultural and traditional backgrounds, as well as geographic origin.

“They are looking for great tastes as much as ever and they base their choices increasingly on simplicity and transparency, health benefits and the authenticity and sustainability of ingredients that are based firmly in nature. They are willing to pay more for products that conform to these complex requirements,” said Renata Kasahara, Symrise director of marketing, sensory and consumer insights.

Symrise has collected global insights on consumers’ perceptions of natural foods spanning more than 15,000 consumers across the Asia-Pacific region, North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.



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