IFT REPORT: What's next for flavor trends?

by Monica Watrous
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Flavor launches this year include mustard and dry seasoning featuring sriracha. 

CHICAGO — The next salted caramel may be soursop, said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insights at Mintel, Chicago. Also known as guanabana, soursop is a tree fruit native to parts of Latin America and has a flavor that is described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with notes of sour citrus and a creaminess similar to that of coconut or banana.

Here’s why Mintel expects the flavor to expand in the United States.

“It’s from a country that is close by (Mexico), and from a country that is in the minds of many consumers in the US, which is Cuba,” Dornblaser said. “The flavor profile is very familiar to consumers. The product itself looks different, so success might come in prepared products.”

During the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition, held July 16-19 in Chicago, industry experts from Mintel and Innova Market Insights discussed emerging flavor trends.

“Why is thinking about flavor important?” Dornblaser said. “Consumers like intense experiences.”

Consumers are drawn to experiences in foods, such as McDonald's McChocolate Potato. 

Fifty-eight percent of US consumers last year said they like to try new recipes, up from 52 percent in 2008. Millennials in particular are open to experimentation; 35 percent said food should be fun to eat, compared with 21 percent of non-millennials. And the leading product attribute consumers said they look for in food and beverage is taste or flavor, ahead of value, health and convenience.

“Consumers are much more about collecting experiences than collecting things,” Dornblaser said. She cited examples of unexpected flavor combinations introduced in global markets, including McDonald’s McChocolate Potato, which was offered in Japan and features the fast-food chain’s french fries drizzled with two flavors of chocolate syrup.

Mintel charted the expansion of such wildly successful flavors as sriracha and salted caramel to identify what factors support the growth of an emerging flavor trend. Sriracha, for example, has demonstrated the potential to expand across geographies and product categories. The popular hot sauce has turned up in snacks, meals, spreads, beverages and bakery products in recent years. Launches this year include mustard and dry seasonings featuring the flavor.

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