Top Flavor Trends in the Food and Beverage Industry

We wrap up our consumer trends blog series with a brief look at the most talked about food and beverage flavor trends for 2018.

Today’s consumers are increasingly seeking unique food and beverages that can be shared, are globally inspired and pack a flavorful punch. But there’s still something to be said about the power of comfort foods. Below, we discuss the top four flavor trends shaping the food and beverage industry and how food and beverage manufacturers can capitalize on these trends.

Floral and Botanical Flavors

Today’s consumers are looking for products made with natural or non-artificial ingredients. As a result, many food and beverage manufacturers are adding botanical flavors to their applications. For example, rose water is becoming increasingly popular in products like cakes, ice cream and drinks due to its ability to add rich, floral notes. The botanical flavor can also add an unpleasant, perfume-like taste if used excessively, so food and beverage manufacturers must be cautious when incorporating the flavor into applications. Botanical extracts, which are derived from various natural sources like fruits, leaves and flowers, can also bring sweet, fresh aromatics to applications. From topping dishes with whole flower petals to infusing drinks with botanicals like lavender and elderflower, floral and botanical flavors are great for various applications.

Throwback Flavors

Nostalgia also plays an important role in consumer food and beverage preferences today. For example, blue raspberry and jackfruit are great throwback fantasy flavors that are becoming increasingly popular. The nostalgic banana flavor is also returning—but now with some twists. Banana dulce de leche, coffee-banana, caramelized banana, banana-maple, cinnamon-banana and banana-berry are just a few of the many banana-inspired flavor combinations used in popular food and beverage applications today. Even if a consumer has never lived through the time frames associated with these iconic flavors, he or she can still enjoy being transported to the era through the nostalgic flavors, suggests Firmenich, a fragrance and flavor company. Because nostalgic flavors hold such a special place in the hearts of consumers, they work well for innovative food and beverage products.

Everything Flavors

In addition to throwback flavors, re-purposed flavors are also creating a lot of hype across the food and beverage industry. One in particular is the “everything bagel” flavor, which originally got its claim to fame through the baked goods industry. But the everything bagel seasoning isn’t just for bagels anymore. With the perfect mix of poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried garlic, diced onion and salt, the everything bagel flavor is now everywhere, according to Restaurant Hospitality. “It’s a great combination of flavors because it hits all the major tastes. And from an emotional point of view, it’s familiar to people,” said Snax Gastrobar Sous Chef Chris Ladley. As consumers increasingly demand comforting yet creative flavors, the everything bagel seasoning presents endless opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers to deliver.

Global Flavors

Ethnic cuisines have been popular on restaurant menus for a while, but today’s consumers are looking for ways to enjoy those tastes from the comfort of their homes. With the world at their fingertips—or at least their smartphones—it’s easy for today’s consumers to see what others are eating worldwide and naturally want to try those products themselves. To meet these demands, many food and beverage manufacturers are experimenting with signature seasonings, BBQ sauces and marinades from various countries worldwide, including Tanzania and Ethiopia, according to the 2018 McCormick Flavor Forecast. North African spices, such as cumin, coriander and cardamom, are also gaining popularity. The bakery industry is also following suit, with artisan and other globally inspired grains popping up all over. These ethnic-inspired flavors are perfect for pushing everyday dishes to new heights.

Of course, these are just a few of the leading flavor trends. What types of flavor creations are you experimenting with in your applications? Are there other flavors you see on the horizon? Comment below to share your thoughts.