The Arrival Of Fall Means Pumpkin Flavor

Sept. 30, 2014

Fall flavors continue to gain popularity and the consumer demand for pumpkin offerings has returned once again. A recent survey found that pumpkin spice is among the top flavors that Americans associate with the fall season. In fact, 34 percent of survey respondents said that pumpkin spice is the leading flavor of fall.

In 2013, pumpkin-flavored food and beverages in the U.S. sold over $308 million alone and grew 14 percent in the last year, according to Nielsen research. This continued the trend from 2012, when coffee was the second most popular pumpkin-flavored item and brought in over $32 million in revenue.

For operators, there is an opportunity to capitalize on the growth of seasonal flavor trends by offering pumpkin beverage options to customers.

Limited time offering

Seasonal, limited-time pumpkin offerings drive consumer sales during the fall season. One study found that 70 percent of pumpkin-related grocery sales occurred during the last three months of the year. “These limited-time offerings often wind up as consumer favorites, and they tend to generate considerable buzz (especially on social media) among a concept’s most loyal fans,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, in his blog entitled, “Savoring Seasonality At Fast-Casual Restaurants”. Limited-time products not only create a buzz, but they also can be a low-risk way operators can try a new product, says Tristano.

Fast-casual restaurants are capitalizing on limited-time pumpkin-flavored items due to this consumer demand. Several national coffeehouses began offering pumpkin-spiced coffees, specialty drinks and breakfast foods in mid-August of this year.

A sweet treat

Pumpkin-flavored coffee products, which accounted for 11.2 percent of all pumpkin-flavored food and beverages purchases in 2012, are also taking on the role of a “sweet treat” with consumers. Two recent reports found that fifty percent of consumers are drinking specialty coffee drinks to treat themselves and more consumers are also broadening their definition of a ‘snack’ to include beverages.

Fifty one percent of consumers snack at least once a day, and 58 percent said that seasonal ingredients make a product seem fresher, including spices or flavors that are associated with a holiday or season.  So, pumpkin coffee presents a chance to position a beverage offering to capture a portion of snacking profits.

Harness the potential

Coffee service operators have the opportunity to combine consumers’ love of seasonal, pumpkin-flavored items with their desire to snack on specialty coffee drinks. In fact, Technomic found that 41 percent of consumers strongly agree that their beverage preferences change depending on the season or time of the year. Consumers will appreciate the pumpkin spice flavors they love in the office, and operators will profit from their demand.