Like food trends, flavor trends evolve continuously. It is exciting to look at global flavors through the lens of both taste trends and trends in food and beverage.
Top Trends for 2023 Relate to Flavor
Each year, Innova Market Insights releases a new list of Top 10 Trends that capture the world food market and changes in food and beverage. The 2023 trends are highly relevant to the development of flavors in products. Trend #1, Redefining Value, suggests that manufacturers will use product flavors to reinforce a product’s values and claims. The fourth trend, Plant-Based: Unlocking a New Narrative, captures the excitement for botanical ingredients and the unique flavors they impart. Trend #9, Unpuzzle Health, sees a consumer trend toward healthier flavor choices and taste trends. Each generation responds differently to taste trends, so Trend #3, Generational Push, aligns with suppliers creating hybrids and limited edition tastes that appeal to Gen Z and Millennial consumers. The sixth trend, Quick Quality, merges convenience with authentic, global flavors, while the eighth trend, Revenge Spending, demonstrates how consumers enjoy small splurges on products with novel and indulgent flavors.
Flavors in the World Food Market are Familiar and Unique
Consumers surveyed by Innova Market Insights note that familiar flavors are most important for food and beverage. However, at least one-third say that they are influenced by new, unique, or different flavors, and one-quarter want interesting or exotic flavors. This represents an increase from 2022. Millennials and Generation Z are more adventurous than Generation X or Boomers. The younger generations also seek mood boosts through flavor; in contrast, Boomers are more attached to familiar and traditional tastes but also will experiment with lower-risk seasonal and limited-edition flavors. Looking at categories, consumers are most likely to experiment with sauces and seasonings, desserts, ice cream, and sweet bakery. However, three in 10 say they will try new tastes even in everyday foods such as bread and cheese.
Sweet and Fruity are Taste Trends in Soft Drinks
The soft drink market features trends involving much innovation in flavor trends, but consumers still prefer sweet and fruity flavors. Fruit flavors are dominant in the world food market, while botanical flavors such as floral, spicy and minty are growing fastest. Among the more established flavor trends, strawberry and watermelon are the best-performing fruits, and the botanicals ginger and mint are becoming more widely used. Other key beverage trends include candy flavors for novel modernity, ongoing diversification into fruit flavors that are associated with health, the use of botanicals that deliver health and sophistication, and indulgent brown flavors as taste trends in milky coffee drinks.
Salty Snacks Span Numerous Flavor Trends
Salty snacks are a great template for contrasts in flavors, whether sweet vs. hot flavors or strong vs. mild tastes. Core ingredients in salty snacks, including vegetables, nuts, spices, seeds, and grains, each contribute to the product’s flavor profile. Ethnic and global flavors are trending and popular. Key trends include the use of more fruity flavors, often to offset spiciness, the rise of ethnic flavors, particularly those from Far East Asia, a shift toward the use of more upmarket vegetable tastes, and interest in mint.
Milk and Yogurt feature Sweet Flavors and Fruit Flavors
Consumers generally prefer sweet, fruity, and mild flavors in dairy and dairy alternative categories. They favor brown flavors like chocolate or cocoa in milk and milk drinks and fruit flavors in yogurt. While fruit flavors have lost share in recent years, vanilla is stable, and indulgent cake flavors and cookie tastes, including toffee and chocolate chip, along with unflavored, are trending. Regionally, flavor trends include brown sugar and white peach in Asia and stracciatella in Europe.
Ice Cream Captures Indulgent Flavors
Indulgent flavors win over healthy flavors in ice cream. Although vanilla is the most popular flavor, milk chocolate often rises to the top, and sweet, fruity, and nutty tastes also gain space. In recent years, brown flavors such as chocolate variants (cocoa, dark chocolate, white chocolate), hazelnut, and coffee have gained share, and milk chocolate flavors remain popular. Other taste trends include indulgent dessert flavors, flavors of cakes, cookies, and pies, and global flavors from Indian and other cuisines.
Healthy Taste Trends in Soups, Bold Flavors in Sauces
Although Innova often groups soups and sauces together when looking at packaged food trends, consumer trends vary between the two subcategories. Consumers prefer healthy and plain savory tastes in soups but spicy and bold flavors in sauces. They also view flavors as a way to add value to foods, splurge small on indulgence, novelty, and excitement, and explore global flavor trends.
Mediterranean is the most in-demand ethnic flavor on a global basis, but regional and local preferences vary widely. Herbs, poultry, meat, and fish seasonings, and Italian flavors such as basil and pesto are performing best. Taste trends in ethnic cuisines change rapidly and various Asian cuisines currently drive new product launches. The plant-based movement continues to drive interest in more natural and botanical flavors and ingredients.
Global flavor trends will continue to evolve as a way to create and maintain consumer excitement about the food and beverage market.
This article is based on our report, “Flavor Odyssey: Exploring the Emerging Flavors of Global Culinary Delights.”
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