From Pumpkin Spice to Apple Pie – How Food Manufacturers Can Capitalize on Fall Flavors

The pumpkin spice craze really kicked into high gear in 2003.

That’s the year Starbucks first introduced the Pumpkin Spice Latte – better known as the PSL. While pumpkin has been a go-to ingredient and flavoring for centuries, it was the PSL that really jumpstarted our modern obsession with fall flavors and created an annual demand for seasonal seasonings across product categories and market segments. From countless drink combinations to pumpkin spice cream cheese, food manufacturers of all shapes and sizes are looking for ways to infuse a little pumpkin into their product lines.

And the seasonal stakes are high – pumpkin spice offerings have become a $600 million market in recent years.

Yet despite pumpkin spice’s orange-tinted spotlight this time of year, there are plenty of other flavors and seasonings that have become closely connected with fall. Apple flavors from cinnamon to cider are a popular autumn addition, as are maple, chai, squash and more. Historians point out there’s a reason we yearn for these flavors in the fall. For generations, autumn months have been associated with the harvest and baking, preserving, and preparing stores for the winter. Today, more recent fall traditions like Halloween get togethers and football tailgates and parties are further shaping what consumers want to cook and consume in the months between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

Realizing the ROI of Fall Flavors

As the fall flavor segment has grown, food manufacturers across market segments and specialties have sought to satisfy consumer demand for autumn-themed products. That’s meant a concerted push toward fall-themed variations of new and existing offerings. In some cases, the connection may feel a little forced.

For every Pumpkin Spice SPAM, there are countless other less audacious autumnal updates to snacks, dips, beverages and more.

As with all seasonal flavors, the key to success for food manufacturers often lies in infusing existing products with the signature flavor in a way that satisfies consumer demand and stands out from the competition. That starts with identifying market opportunities and looking at existing offerings.

Partners in Fall Product Development

Bluegrass Ingredients has partnered with countless food manufacturers and flavor houses to help innovate and develop products that deliver on a specific consumer demand. Our R&D-centric product development process takes stock of the current flavor landscape and helps manufacturers formulate a product with maximum flavor potential. In the case of seasonal flavors, that often means modifying an existing product to include pumpkin spice or other fall ingredients.

Believe it or not, most pumpkin spice formulations actually don’t contain any pumpkin ingredients.

Typically, the blend is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. But despite a looming lack of pumpkin, consumers have a developed and demanding palette when it comes to pumpkin spice flavors. Getting that pumpkin spice blend formulation exactly right is an essential step in the product development process. Bluegrass’ product development solutions offer proven expertise in this custom formulation process on a number of fronts:

Powder Formulations Deliver on Fall Flavor Demands

Even food manufacturers that aren’t focused on pumpkin flavors shouldn’t overlook shifts in consumer demands during autumn. Powder formulations can play a pivotal role in ensuring products meet customer demands in terms of flavor, texture, and even ingredient and label expectations. At the same time, powders offer extended shelf life and simplified logistics and handling requirements. From early morning pumpkin spice beverages to gameday appetizers and side dishes designed to feed a crowd, here are a few fall recipes that harness the power of food powders to deliver great taste in a streamlined formulation.


Bluegrass Ingredients has partnered with food manufacturers to develop these recipes and countless others that capitalize on flavor trends while utilizing powder ingredients to their full potential.

Our team of food scientists and flavor experts have developed a wide range of dairy and plant-based powders, as well as seasonings and concentrates. We offer lower minimum order quantities with higher service, including enhanced flavor-matching capabilities.

To learn more about Bluegrass Ingredients’ market-driven product development solutions and product offerings, contact us.

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