The lifecycle of spice

by Erica Shaffer
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Today's consumers want to experiment with flavor.
Innovations in spicy flavors keep consumers wanting more.

CHICAGO – Spicy flavors continue to captivate consumers as some flavors ease into widespread acceptance while others gain traction on foodservice menus, Technomic said in its most recent Flavor Lifecycle report. The Flavor Lifecycle tracks trend adoption levels across foodservice concepts with varying levels of innovation.

Flavors such as buffalo, chile, jalapeno and Cajun have matured as menu trends leading foodservice operators to innovate new menu creations. For example, Technomic expects wasabi to appear on salads. Also, look for sriracha on tacos.

“Menu categories see wide variation in flavor innovation,” said Bernadette Noone, vice president at Technomic. “Aji amarillo, a South American spice, is the leading cutting-edge spicy flavor in appetizers; while in entrees, it’s sambal, an Indonesian favorite. Spicy flavors that are one step closer to widespread acceptance — but still innovative — include poblano in appetizers and red chile in entrees.”

As Asian concepts evolve from local Chinese take-out to lesser-known fare inspired by Korea and Vietnam, expect the influence of pepper flavors to follow. Technomic forecasts growth for gochujang, which is a spicy, salty paste from Asia that is made from fermented soybeans, dried chilies and garlic.

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