Consumer Food Trends for Global Flavor Adventure

Explore the latest flavor trends, including new flavor combinations and crossovers

February 29, 2024 – Consumers are open, even eager to explore adventurous flavors. From unusual flavor combinations and global influences to a flavor-turned-scent sold by KFC Spain, there are great opportunities in novelty flavors for the companies that dare.

Consumers Ready for Flavor 

Familiar, traditional global flavors are comforting and nostalgic, so they remain popular. However, consumers are showing an interest in exploring and seeking novelty. Consumer demand for more flavor variety in food and beverage products is growing, with 1 in 3 global consumers saying they are intrigued by new, unique, different flavors. 1 in 4 global consumers are attracted to interesting and exotic global flavor combinations.

Younger consumers are strongly driving consumer trends such as exposure to new global flavor experiences. Innova’s consumer trend research shows that Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to express interest in more exotic, adventurous and exotic flavors. Similarly, Boomers are more inclined toward traditional, familiar and comforting flavors.

Growing Demand for New Combos 

Home cooking continues to gain momentum as a prime arena for flavor experimentation, and the Covid-19 lockdown serves as a catalyst. Consumer trends show that food and beverage players can harness the creativity of the home kitchen to inspire novel, accessible flavor crossover products.

Consumer trends research reveals that consumers are also becoming more adventurous when eating out, with 61% of global consumers willing to try new things offered by foodservice. The previous year, only 54% of consumers said they felt the same way.

The growing popularity of adventurous flavor crossovers will lead to more daring and unconventional co-branding ventures. These could take the form of larger foodservice companies teaming up with small, locally famous restaurants and eateries.

Consumer Trends for Global Flavor Adventure

Snacks Ideal for Flavor Crossovers 

Consumer trends highlight the key food and beverage categories to which consumers are most open, showing flavor experimentation in savory and indulgent categories.

Snacks, both savory and sweet, exerted a powerful pull, enticing 1 in 3 consumers to discover new global flavors.

Popcorn, for example, has become a pioneering category for appropriating global flavors from other categories and blending flavors that would have previously been considered incompatible.

Food and beverage categories will move from simple sweet and salty blends to more complex, contrasting flavors. These flavors will be a major theme for the foreseeable future, and not just in snacks.

Umami Go 

The integration of umami is a path to more complex flavor profiles, often referred to as the quintessential savory or the fifth flavor.

The beginnings of umami’s conquest of various categories are already visible, including confectionery, bakery, and beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, creating intriguing flavor contrasts.

Due to its umami importing capabilities and clean label aspect, miso is beginning to infiltrate ingredient lists across multiple food and beverage categories worldwide. Innova predicts that this currently underrepresented ingredient will soon be stepping into the spotlight.

Leveraging Global Flavor Mobility 

Innova’s predictions also include a steady trickle of food and beverage flavors migrating into non-food sectors such as beauty, personal care and household. One example is KFC Spain’s idea to turn an iconic spice blend into a limited-edition cologne called Eau D’Uardo. The cologne is described as an irresistible fragrance with juicy pepper notes, inspired by KFC’s best-kept secret. The cologne features essences of geranium, tangerine, bergamot and a hint of pink pepper. It is described as fresh, evocative and unforgettable.

Customers were able to add the cologne to their KFC order for an additional €3.99 with no order limit. The social media engagement generated by such bold crossover efforts is becoming an essential way to build brand awareness.

What’s Next? 

A central theme in 2024 will be “savor the contrast,” one of the top 5 global flavor trends identified by Innova.

Social media will play a significant role, as consumer trends show that consumers eagerly document and share their first encounters with unexpected flavor juxtapositions. Think YouTube and TikTok product reviews, or the attention generated by “challenges” such as Jelly Belly’s BeanBoozled – now in its 6th edition after launching in 2007 – or Doritos Roulette, a Russian roulette-inspired bag of randomly spiced chips. Yet social media channels are also a goldmine of inspiration for thoughtful food and beverage and foodservice players.

With online attention comes candid criticism, even for novelty-flavored offerings. These critiques can lead to formulation improvements, and the volumes of material produced by social media content creators hold a wealth of suggestions for future collaborations and original tweaks that can trigger a lightbulb moment. These can come in the form of condiments, sauces and spice blends that reviewers use to maximize their personal enjoyment of a new global flavor offering.


This article is based on our insider report, “Crossovers & Contrasts: Consumers Ready for a Global Flavor Adventure.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
You can do this by either booking a demo or using our Contact Form.

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