Hybrid flavors, regional inspiration, creative sourcing and savory updates are four primary consumer interests that have been identified by Sensient Flavors to influence eight up-and-coming flavor trends for the coming year.
The consumer insights were developed utilizing Sensient’s “Trends to Taste" program, a proprietary predictive process that filters trends from the broad, consumer, macro level down to finished concepts that best demonstrate each flavor profile.
“The 2015 Trends to Taste program centers around one consistent theme: ethnic exploration through flavors," said Teresa Olah, marketing director, Sensient Flavors. “Consumers are seeking adventure in their food and see their choices as an expression of themselves. They are enjoying the ability to sample other cultures through food."
Hybrid flavors, or unconventional flavor pairings, will remain popular through the year ahead including:
- Smoked Chantilly—food menus continue to feature smoked, roasted, toasted and burnt flavors. Pairing this profile with vanilla- or brandy-infused Chantilly cream evokes a new level of interest by combining two unexpected, but harmonious flavors.
- Maple Mirch (Mirchi)—the popularity of Indian cuisine is growing as consumers learn the depth and breadth of this particularly rich heritage. Mirch, Hindi for chile pepper, brings spice and heat from India and combines it with maple, a fan favorite in the Western world. This East-meets-West hybrid pairs the familiar sweetness with the exotic Indian flavor creating something consumers will be eager to try.
Consumers are also becoming more curious about regionally inspired flavors as they look to food as a gateway to the world’s cultures. In 2015, regional flavor trends take their cues from the equator including:
- African Blue Basil—a perennial basil, this variety is a sterile hybrid of two breeds that yields an unexpected flavor with anise undertones.
- Falernum—Falernum is a sweet syrup boasting hints of almond, ginger, cloves, lime, vanilla and allspice. It’s often paired with rum in Caribbean and tropical drinks, but it’s popping up in non-alcoholic beverages like coconut water and is expected to hit the food market in coming years.
Long winters and droughts are forcing manufacturers to consider alternative food sources and become more conscious of sustainable resources. Desert plants are rising in popularity including:
- Desert Wildflowers—though polarizing, floral flavors are on the rise for 2015, and the mild flavor of the desert wildflower makes it a popular pick that can be enjoyed by all.
- Cascara Tea—commonly consumed in Bolivia (where it’s called Sultana), cascara tea is made from the dried berries of the coffee plant and is often mixed with cinnamon.
Category-blurring flavor trends like “Savory 2.0" are firing on all cylinders. As consumers take inventory of their pantries, savory updates on traditionally sweet applications are proving to be viable alternatives as long term staples. Whether it is sugar replaced with salt or repurposing more familiar flavors, this trend includes:
- “Everything Bagel" Spice Blend—a longtime favorite, this versatile spice blend contains poppy seed, kosher salt, sweet onion sugar, sesame seed, garlic, onion and fennel.
- Salted Satsuma—the perfect balance of sweet and savory, the addition of salt elevates this summertime favorite. Satsuma, a Japanese orange varietal, gained popularity in New Orleans in recent years. It is another citrus expected to appear in flavor undertones in 2015.
Flavor is an important component in food and beverage product development, but can be difficult to tackle as consumer taste preferences are ever-changing. Increasingly, consumers are seeking bold flavors inspired by evolving consumer preferences and growing global influence on the market. Check out Food Product Design’s free digital issue, “Survival Guide: Flavors" that includes market data, a look at ethnic flavors and trends, and a buyer's guide to help food product designers, marketers and C-level executives make informed decisions on the flavors they select for their food and beverage products.