NEW YORK — International cuisine, less sweet desserts and colorful, functional ingredients are flourishing on menus, according to Mintel’s 2018 US Flavor Trends report. The company explores the foodservice flavor trends that are already hitting the mainstream, those that are just emerging and those poised for future growth in 2018 and beyond.


“Flavor is an ever-evolving art, ripe with opportunities for interpretation, innovation and creativity,” said Amanda Topper, associate director of food service research at Mintel. “Today, that opportunity lies in the expansion of international flavors and ingredients, and in the years ahead, we predict the ingenuity of new dishes will come down to enhancing the chemistry of ingredients to create hearty masterpieces. The future of flavor also lies in creating healthy dishes without giving up satisfying taste.”

Read on for six flavor trends shaping the food service industry and one set to surge in the future:



Modern Mediterranean

Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients are becoming more familiar – and more desirable – to consumers, Mintel said. Sixty-six percent of US consumers are interested in Middle Eastern foods at restaurants, and growth of Middle Eastern cuisine on US restaurant menus grew 32 percent between 2015 and 2017.

Dates, a staple in Mediterranean fare, increased 19 percent as an ingredient in menu items from 2015-17, according to Mintel Menu Insights Dates also have been growing as a component of non-alcoholic beverages, Mintel said.

Another Middle Eastern cuisine ingredient, pistachios, grew 15 percent as a food ingredient and 2 percent as a food flavor between 2015-17.

Mint increased 48 percent as a non-alcoholic beverage ingredient from 2015-17, Mintel said, and 23 percent as an alcoholic beverage ingredient.