In line with the company’s annual Taste and Nutrition Charts, Kerry forecasts that flavors inspired by heirloom recipes across generations of tradition will drive food and beverage innovation in 2023. Notably, taste remains the top driver when it comes to food and beverage choices. Consumers will also be motivated by simplicity, sustainability, and meeting their nutrition goals in the coming year.
Moreover, there will be a rise in unconventional flavor pairings, such as sweet profiles in savory foods, including blackcurrant and maple syrup, with a strong interest in provenance, functional ingredients and flavors that tell a story, Kerry reveals.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst ahead of the release of its Taste Charts, Soumya Nair, global director of consumer research and insights, shares her insights on the trends.
“Flavors have a powerful way of conveying a story – particularly when it comes to consumer trends and preferences. This year we will witness the resurgence of time-honored traditions and heirloom recipes as consumers crave traditional tastes with new and emerging flavors.”
“Not forgetting that global consumers today are well-traveled, the flavors they crave are also driven by fond memories of travel and taste,” she asserts.
Geolocation flavors, as they are sometimes called, are more than just tastes, notes Nair.
“Heirloom flavors are a big piece of our charts this year. Whether you’re in the UK and seeing the rise of South Korean or Mediterranean-specific flavors, these authentic, international cuisines are rising. It’s the same within the Asia Pacific markets, where we see influence not just from the West, but also sub-markets within these regions, that are inspiring flavor globally.”
Asian food and cuisines are going beyond the norm. “Indian spices are gaining ground, and also Korean gochujang, South Korean flavors, – the list goes on. But it’s also about this extreme need to know the story behind that flavor. So, the legacy of it is making an impact with consumers,” she explains.
Consumers want to know what’s in their food and the preparation methods behind it. This year, the need to experience a memory or story is becoming much more prominent. Nair believes these trends were “simmering even before the pandemic.” Now, with conviction, they are rising even further into dominance, she underscores.
Through Kerry’s in-depth research and insights from its teams across the globe, Nair also comments on how trends are traveling the world – with Asian flavors such as cardamom, Japanese Miso, gooseberry, and hawthorn, reaching Europe and North America, while popular dishes in Europe such as Moroccan Tahini and Italian Bolognese inspiring innovation in Asia Pacific.
“Consumers are traveling the world through taste, and we expect that interest and desire in authenticity to continue,” she says.
Next big flavors to hit the market.
There will also be a resurgence in age-old cooking practices and heirloom recipes as consumers place more importance on tradition and provenance. Ingredients such as nutritional yeast, ginseng, kombucha, ashwagandha and ancient grains are finding a new home across snack and beverage applications.
Commenting on one key ingredient that has risen in popularity over the past few months, Nair notes growing curiosity of black sesame. “We’ve seen it everywhere. Roasted sesame and sesame variations have grown in all sorts of applications,” she explains. “It’s the same with the saffrons, the roses. All these flavors rise and fall in popularity, but that is where there can be a lot more opportunity for growth.”
“It’s important to pay attention to these singular flavors, beyond bringing limited-time offerings (LTOs), because that is where the trends emerge.”
“But when a trend like this gain’s consumer attention, it could be the next big thing – like Sriracha has been in the past. That’s why we curate every flavor on the Taste Charts; they could be the next Sriracha,” she enthuses.
Conventional and unconventional combinations
Indulgence will take on a new meaning, with younger consumers in particular seeking mashups of familiar food and drinks that they grew up with combined with emerging new flavor tonalities.
The influence of social media channels such as TikTok and Instagram augments this trend.
“We also see this combination of taste and nutrition, which is getting much more seamless with consumers this year,” notes Nair.
“Of course, there are mainstay flavors, such as vanilla, chocolate and strawberries, that will always be there and have been there for five years or more. Then, there are your cheese and chili flavors, which are well-known and loved by consumers. There are high growth flavors, which is where we see the buzzwords come through, those that are constantly rising and falling, such as gochujang, for example,” she details.
There will be a hunger for unconventional combinations of traditional ingredients and emerging taste profiles from other regions, such as Korean fried chicken, mojito beers, Japanese katsu, Greek tzatziki and a thirst for healthier beverages with functional ingredients such as ashwagandha, hibiscus and matcha.
Permissible indulgence remains in focus.
Indulgence has taken on several new meanings over recent years. In 2023, Nair expects consumers to seek value as inflation hits home, but they will still gravitate toward products that allow permissible indulgence, still seeking simple flavors like cheddar cheese and caramel across nostalgic favorites like cookies and salty snacks.
In Europe, Kerry also sees cross-category inspiration with dessert and alcohol flavors inspiring various non-traditional applications such as ice cream, confectionery, and sports nutrition.
“This year, we’ll be seeing a swing toward comfort, convenience and familiarity. And let’s not forget adventure,” adds Nair.
“Comfort still reigns supreme – with peppermints, hazelnuts, chocolates, cheeses, and chilies still dominating tastebuds. Whether a nostalgic treat, a comfort dish, or a healthy alternative, consumers expect a greater variety of tastes in 2023,” she concludes.
By Elizabeth Green
Author at Food Ingredients