Flavor Trends or Forecasts
Consumers get bored easily nowadays, always seeking out different flavors and taste sensations. Florals, earthy, and complex heat are three flavor trends to watch in 2020.
- While plant-based food and beverage have become a mainstream movement in the United States, it's no surprise that floral flavors have spanned the spectrum. In one year alone, between Q3 2017 and Q3 2018, 4,495 new products using floral flavors were released globally. From new flavors (jackfruit, tiger nuts, or quandong) to classic ones (elderflower, rose, jasmine, or lavender), floral tastes and ingredients are adding a twist and a touch of distinctiveness to new food and beverage products.
- Even if flowers are not yet widely used in food and beverage products, they are rising in popularity. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), there has been a 40% increase in launches of foods with floral flavors in the last six years. The future of floral flavors is primed for growth, mostly when certain flowers are known for their functional benefits, with consumers associating ingredients like lavender and chamomile with relaxation.
- MarieBelle New York, a chocolate company based in Soho and run by Chocolatier Maribel Lieberman, has successfully used flavors as Hibiscus, Rose, or Matcha. Moreover, MarieBelle bets on its English lavender's calming and mood-boosting benefits, branding its chocolate truffles as "The American Spa — Chocolates for Holiday Stress Relief."
- In December 2018, Firmenich announced Hibiscus as "Flavor of the Year" for 2019. According to its insights and based on data from Mintel, the worldwide use of Hibiscus has increased by approximately 300% compared to 2012. Mintel also reported that Hibiscus experienced a 55% growth on menus from 2015 to 2018. Top categories for launches include yogurt, tea, and chocolates, with most occurring in the US, Brazil, Mexico, and Denmark. The most commercial use of Hibiscus has been in beverage production.
- Vosges Haut-Chocolat, founded by Chocolatier Katrina Markoff, is a certified organic manufacturing facility that operates on 100% renewable energy. It has successfully used floral flavors as Violet flower, Lavender, Hibiscus, or Orange flower blossom to manufacture truffles and chocolate bars.
- Heat is on the rise, consumption of hot and spicy foods continues to grow. More than half of global consumers surveyed in 2019 are eating spicier food more often than they were doing one year ago. This number doubled compared to 2017 data. Knowing the pepper varietal matters most to consumers from the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions. Consumers' preferences for spicy foods and beverages have been increasing in popularity and have also been stretching beyond mild, medium, and hot to specific flavors. Technomic's data from 2019 show that 59% of consumers aged 18–34 prefer very spicy foods.
- Jelly Belly, a family-owned candy company, saw an opportunity to further capitalize on the trend and launched BeanBoozled Fiery Five. The spicy jelly beans challenge brave fans to explore the world of spice with five flavors: Sriracha, Jalapeño, Cayenne, Habanero, and Carolina Reaper. The Vice President of Global Marketing, Rob Swaigen, claimed that Fiery Five pushes the boundaries of flavor and will be a hot seller among the growing number of heat-seeking consumers.
- McIlhenny Company, Louisiana, the family-owned and -operated enterprise that developed the recipe for TABASCO® Original Red Pepper Sauce, launched its dark chocolate spiced with TABASCO® Pepper Sauce.
- Little Bird, a small and independent chocolatier in New York, began its story began with Chocolate Covered Orange Peels but hit its climax when Chocolatier Sarah Meyer candied Jalapeños. The single-serve packs of Fire Bites come in three assortments, Jalapeños candied in milk, white or dark chocolate.
- The health aura surrounding floral ingredients (see above) will also steer demand for earthy flavors in the years ahead. Consumers seek out foods and beverages that contain not only physical health benefits but mental and spiritual benefits as well. Besides, earthy flavors may be matched with complementary botanicals and flavors to balance the taste. Herb-based sweets are considered a top trend in 2020.
- According to the National Restaurant Association, plant-based proteins are the hot ticket this year. Results indicate that Americans are still focused on healthy food, but they're also interested in more options and new alternatives. More than 50% of consumers say they are likely to make a restaurant choice based on its eco-friendly practices. Experts anticipate plant-based protein food products will continue to grow in popularity during the next decade.
- VivoLife, a UK based company, manufactures 100% plant-based health and fitness products like Raw Cacao Hot Chocolate with Reishi Mushroom, Ashwagandha, and Ceylon Cinnamon, Golden Turmeric Latte with Lion's Mane, Ginger, and Cardamom, or Ground Coffee with Lion's Mane Mushroom. According to the National Restaurant Association's survey, respondents ranked mushrooms as the hottest produce item in 2020. Mushrooms crept into the protein category as well.
- With a very distinctive flavor, Cardamom has become another popular spice used in chocolate. Éclat Chocolate, run by Master Chocolatier Christopher Curtin and based in Pennsylvania, launched a Coffee & Cardamom Chocolate Bar in the US. The product features a "dark roasted coffee and pungent, floral cardamom flavor which is a classic flavor parallel from the Middle East," according to its description.