The rise of pumpkin spice in America

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th September 2016

As Autumn hits the US, the country is once again being inundated with pumpkin spice flavoured food and drinks.

The rise of pumpkin spice flavoured food and drinks has become big in America over the past few years. According to a Nielsen US report, in 2014, 37 per cent of US consumers purchased a pumpkin flavoured product. Within the 2014 calendar year, pumpkin product sales totaled US $361 million in sales, a 79 per cent increase on 2011 figures.

The rise of pumpkin flavoured food and drinks is often attributed to the introduction of the Pumpkin Spice Latte by Starbucks in 2003. Since then, fans of the drink eagerly await the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte every Autumn (it is only on sale during the cooler months of the year). Although Starbucks does not release information on individual beverage sales figures, Forbes predicted in 2015 that its Pumpkin Spice Lattes would bring in US $100 million in revenue that year.

The popularity of the drink seems to be continuing into 2016 with a social media analytics company, Spredfast, releasing data which showed there were over 5, 000 tweets a minute about the beverage when it came available again last week.

What is in pumpkin spice mix and why is it so popular in America?

There is no standard recipe for pumpkin spice but it is generally a combination of different spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

As to why it is so popular in America, most have put it down to a mixture of clever marketing, along with taste. A Pumpkin Spice Latte, for example, not only contains coffee which can keep consumers coming back regularly, but it also includes 50gs of sugar and can be served with whipped cream, so there are plenty of incentives for the taste buds.

Could a pumpkin spice craze be hitting Australia?

Unlike America, Australia does not have a history of eating pumpkin pies, nor do we have Thanksgiving, so the chances of pumpkin spice taking off like it has in American is probably far slimmer.

That said, a quick visit to the Starbucks Australia Facebook page shows a handful of comments and posts requesting Pumpkin Spice Lattes. A response from Starbucks in late August said they were on their way soon so perhaps Australian food producers need to watch this space.