Floral flavours are the number one consumer food trend for 2018 according to Whole Foods Market. For years, professional chefs have been using edible flowers as garnishes or to give dishes a signature flavour and consumers are now seeking new culinary experiences at home and experimenting with unconventional ingredients. In partnership with Freeman Herbs, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) has been investigating consumer preference for edible flower varieties for positioning in the marketplace.
Edible flowers are growing in popularity as evidenced through research conducted by Alexandra Grygorczyk, PhD, Vineland’s Research Scientist, Consumer Insights. “In 2015, we surveyed consumers on their preference for edible garden plants (strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries) and also included an edible flower option in the study,” said Grygorczyk. “We found 35 percent of respondents were highly interested in edible flowers and would prefer purchasing edible flowers for their garden over more traditional plants such as strawberries and raspberries.”
Freeman Herbs, a Beamsville, ON-based grower and distributor of fresh herbs in Canada, partnered with Vineland in 2017 to gain a better understanding of the edible flowers’ market. Following Freeman Herbs’ production trials on over 25 types of edible flowers screening for ease of production, blooming and compact shape for container production, 10 plants were selected for profiling by Vineland’s trained sensory panel and more than 200 Greater Toronto Area consumers.
“We were able to segment consumers in two groups: the bold flavour fans (56 percent) favouring strong aromas and spicy tastes; and the smooth texture lovers (44 percent) preferring smooth textured and subtly flavoured flowers,” said Grygorczyk. Results also showed edible flowers such as nasturtium and candy pop mint should be marketed to the bold flavour fan group while impatiens and dianthus (pictured, top) are of interest to smooth texture lovers.
“These research findings have been instrumental in outlining our business plan to expand into the potted edible flowers market,” said Jeff Nickerson, General Manager, Freeman Herbs. Freeman Herbs will be launching edible flowers in four-inch pots in the produce aisle in 2019.
What’s next? Freeman Herbs is now focusing on an effective strategy for product positioning informed by an upcoming consumer survey Vineland will launch this summer.
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