Unwrapping the Top Flavor Trends for 2019

With more options at their fingertips, today’s consumers have the purchasing power to choose the specific flavor innovations that meet their needs and preferences. It’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest flavor trends in order to compete effectively in the market. Last year, we saw forecasts for everything from floral notes to nostalgic flavors to ethnic cuisine — and the predictions weren’t far off. Many of those predictions were key in creating some of the most popular food and beverage items in 2018. Below, we discuss the top flavor forecasts for 2019.

Classic, Nostalgic Flavors

The nostalgia trend has been around for a while and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon based on industry predictions. Classic flavors are still anticipated to be in high demand across all categories in the food and beverage industry, according to a 2019 flavor trends article by FoodIngredientsFirst. Nostalgia helps provide consumers with a break from their normal, busy lives. Indulgent, sugary flavors like cereal milk, s’mores, birthday cake and cookie dough are especially popular because they are visually appealing and give consumers an enjoyable moment of reminiscence. Flavors that trigger seasonal and holiday memories, such as pumpkin spice, maple, eggnog and caramel apple, also incite fond emotions from childhood and are popular in limited-time offers.

Savory Flavors

Butter is hitting an all-time high on restaurant menus today. “Anytime you give people permission to eat more of something that they thought was bad for them, it’s popular,” stated Elizabeth Moskow, creative culinary director of Sterling-Rice Group. The rise in high-fat, low-carb diets, such as the Ketogenic diet, coupled with the undeniable natural attraction that consumers have for butter, has elevated the kitchen staple as a “miracle ingredient” for today’s food industry. In fact, we’re already seeing the ingredient pop up in everything from butter coffee to brown butter-flavored donuts. Quick-service restaurants are even serving giant slabs of butter on top of juicy burgers.

Natural and Earthy Flavors

Flavors associated with health/wellness and nature are also expected to be on trend this year, according to the Food Business News 2019 tastes forecast. Hemp hearts, seeds and oils are nothing new, but growing interest in the potential benefits of these natural, earthy ingredients is leading many experts to believe they will be even more popular this year. The McCormick Flavor Forecast predicts seeds will be among the top flavor focus areas this year. Dishes like overnight coconut guava basil seed pudding, Cajun puffed lotus seed snack mix and gomasio, a Japanese black and white sesame seed seasoning blend are just a few of the innovations to make their list. Similarly, Sodexo states that lemon verbena, savory and caraway flower are the three herbs poised to become more prominent in 2019. Whole Foods Top 10 Food Trends for 2019 also predicts puffed snacks made from water lily seeds, plant-based tuna alternatives with algae ingredients, crispy snackable salmon skins with omega-3s and kelp jerkies to be among the among the most anticipated and innovative trends for 2019.

Fermented and Pickled Flavors

Fermented and pickled foods and beverages are also on the radar for 2019 due to their associated digestive health benefits and unique flavor profiles. Consumers are eating up the rich, umami flavors of fermented products like tempeh and nutritional yeast, which are being added to menus and packaged snack products in place of traditional dairy-based cheese seasonings. Chefs are also giving meats a more fermented taste for gourmet dishes by using koji mold, a mold spore that typically ferments miso and soy sauce. As consumers continue to seek out foods that meet their health and wellness goals, industry experts anticipate seeing more natural flavors and fermented or pickled foods.

Global Flavors

With an annual growth of 20 percent between 2013 and 2017, global flavors have been on the rise for quite some time. Industry experts predict ethnic-inspired flavors to continue to be popular in 2019 due to increased connectivity, wanderlust and an affinity for travel among consumers. Flavor inspirations that play up authentic Japanese, Korean, Filipino, African and Middle Eastern cuisines in new and exciting ways have already become especially popular, according to industry experts. Indian flavors, such as cardamom, coriander, curry and garam masala, are also well loved by younger consumers, who look for authentic global flavors in close proximity. Additionally, Pacific Rim-inspired flavors, such as longganisa (a Filipino pork sausage), dried shrimp, cuttlefish and shrimp paste, and tropical fruits are among the most anticipated and innovative food trends this year, according to the Whole Foods Top 10 Food Trends for 2019. Yet, some of the more common ethnic-inspired flavors are actually losing popularity as hyper-regional versions take their place at the table. As a result, experts predict to see a growing demand for products that offer unique combinations of authentic flavors, such as Korean-style burritos.

Bitter and Fruit-filled Flavors

Bitter and fruity flavors are projected to be popular in 2019. In particular, many American consumers are embracing bitter flavors, with menu mentions of the term “bitter” up 22 percent since 2015 and projected to grow an additional 18 percent by 2023, according to Datassential. These mentions include everything from craft cocktail bitters and aperitifs to brassicas and brussels sprouts. Berry, citrus and watermelon flavors are also expected to make a splash in the food and beverage industry this year. While they’re not entirely new, the fruity flavors offer consumers an indulgent profile as well as many health benefits, such as antioxidants. With their refreshing, sweet profiles, many real fruits can deliver sweetness without the presence of sugar, making them great standalone flavors in unsweetened products. Manufacturers are also exploring flavor innovation with kiwi. In addition to the infamous strawberry kiwi duo, Gold Coast Ingredients predicts seeing more kiwi fruit pairings, such as kiwi pear, kiwi watermelon, kiwi lime, kiwi cucumber, kiwi berry and kiwi melon, in 2019.

Of course, these are only a few of the top flavor forecasts for 2019. What flavor trends do you think will reign supreme in 2019? Comment below to share your thoughts.