ROCKVILLE, Md. – Food manufacturers aiming to differentiate their products should consider hot and spicy flavors which are growing in broad appeal, according to a new market trends report from Packaged Facts and CCD Innovation, a San Francisco-based strategic food and beverage agency.

"Now more than ever heat and spice can play an upfront strategic role to differentiate familiar products or to attract specific consumer segments and demographics," says Kimberly Egan, chief executive officer of CCD Innovation. "There are endless ways for restaurant operators and food manufacturers to mix and match flavorful ingredients to enhance the consumer experience and drive powerful innovation."

Heat & Spice: Culinary Trend Mapping Report highlights the trends in hot and spicy flavors and details how those trends are evolving. Trends that are gaining traction with chefs and adventurous diners include:

• Smoke in New Places: Deep, smoky flavors are at the root of the bacon craze that has swept the nation, according to the report. Familiar smoked foods have all moved to the forefront of consumer menu choices. Expect to see smoke flavor move on to new, creative venues like drinks and desserts.

• Aleppo Pepper & Co.: The Aleppo is a moderately hot pepper that is named after the largest city in Syria. The use and acceptance of Aleppo pepper and other Middle Eastern flavors is a sign of the continuing globalization of consumer pantries, the report stated.

Trends that are slightly more developed and gaining in broad appeal include:

• Hatch Chiles: Hatch refers to a species of cultivated chile peppers that grow in and around Hatch, NM. The Hatch chile trend is about authentic flavors and highlighting regional specialties in menu and product development, according to the report.

• Gochujang: Korean cuisine is quickly growing in popularity along with the gochujang, a fermented chile-based condiment. Originally almost exclusively a homemade condiment, packaged gochujang is just now becoming more available to a broader audience who may want to experiment with the condiment.

Trends that have completely crossed into the mainstream and are commonplace on foodservice menus include:

• Spicy Sips: Going far beyond the Bloody Mary, new beverage incarnations use ingredients such as cayenne, capsaicin, black pepper, ginger and wasabi, according to the report. Whether it's flavor driven or health driven or both, spicy beverages are making a mark.

• Healthful Spices: The idea that spices are an important part of health and well-being is taking deeper root in the American marketplace, the report revealed. The key to tapping into this shift is creating opportunities for consumers to incorporate healthy spices more extensively into their diets in a tasteful, natural, and fresh way.

• Buffalo Flavor: Chicken wings are the classic application, but buffalo flavor and its complement, blue cheese, now seem to go hand in hand across the menu. According to Datassential MenuTrends, buffalo sauce penetration is at about 33 percent overall in restaurants, with casual leading at 37.7 percent and fine dining the lowest at 19.8 percent.