IFT REPORT: What's next for flavor trends?

by Monica Watrous
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Harissa: The next sriracha?

A staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking, harissa is a spicy, aromatic paste of hot chili peppers, garlic, olive oil and such spices as cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. The flavor is expected to expand in the United States, driven by the continued popularity of ethnic cuisines, particularly among younger consumers. Additionally, Dornblaser noted, North African food is still relatively unique to the market, which may appeal to many consumers seeking new flavor experiences.

A potential caveat of harissa is its hot and spicy flavor profile, which Dornblaser said may be “attractive to some, but a turnoff to others.”

The majority of new product introductions featuring harissa are sold in Europe, but several North American launches have taken the flavor beyond its primary category of sauces. Examples include a chicken and couscous frozen entree from Wicked Kitchen in the United States and harissa hummus rippled potato chips from Loblaw’s President’s Choice brand in Canada.

“As you identify new flavors to try and see if they work for your portfolio, do not be afraid to move the flavor beyond that home category where it lives,” Dornblaser said.

Spicy surprises

Spices are surging in product development, led by cayenne pepper, up 47 percent in global product launches last year, according to Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands. Other trending spices include caraway (up 40 percent), saffron (up 31 percent), horseradish (up 29 percent) and turmeric (up 21 percent). Products launched last year containing chili grew 34 percent in North America, 55 percent in Latin America, 35 percent in Australia and 12 percent in West Europe.

“There are so many chilies; I don’t know how many we’ve identified,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “That’s something that’s captured everybody’s imagination.”

Peppers and spices aren’t limited to sauces and seasonings. Global soft drinks containing spices grew 20 percent in 2015 over the prior year. Flavored bottled water containing spices rose 84 percent, while oils with spices increased 62 percent, fats and spreads with spices grew 59 percent, gum with spices was up 38 percent, and chocolate with spices climbed 37 percent. Recent global launches featuring spices include The Chaat Co. Savory Yogurt Snack featuring mango chili yogurt and a crunchy turmeric spiced lentil puff topping (United States), Lurpak Infusions Butter with Chili and Lime (United Kingdom), and Belly Real Dulce De Leche Ice Cream with Spiced Chocolate (Canada).

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