The coronavirus pandemic shaped the food and beverage industry substantially. But now that vaccination rates are increasing, restaurants are reopening, and social distancing measures are lessening, where do we go from here?
“To break the daily monotony of pandemic/post-pandemic life…offering new flavor, texture, and format experiences is a promising development area.”
—Mintel, “A Year of Innovation in Snack Bars, 2021”
This list is for product developers and formulators who aspire to set the trends as we head into this new phase known as the next normal. Staying on the pulse of consumers’ favorite ingredients and flavor profiles is essential to driving demand and standing out on the shelf and on menus.
We hope this guide will help you bolster your offerings with new, exciting flavor profiles that will grab consumer attention.
4 Flavor Trends for the ‘Next Normal’
1) Unusual flavor combinations for unusual times. Let’s dig into these surprising twists to classic favorites!
From TikTok to Instagram, people are experimenting with unique flavor combinations that satisfy their taste buds. Unusual sweet and savory flavor combinations on social media and in restaurants inspire consumers to try new flavor experiences. Classic favorites reimagined with sweet and savory flavor profiles offer consumers new ways to indulge and usually come with a better-for-you appeal.1 Some of the most unique ingredient combinations we’ve discovered include:
- Carrot, pineapple, and turmeric
- Mango and basil
- Beets and dark chocolate
- Sweet potato and maple
These products usually include real fruit and vegetable ingredients paired with herbs or natural sweeteners, making it easier to formulate clean label, lower-sugar solutions. We expect to see new snack bars, brownies, and cookies hit the market with these kinds of flavors.
2) Immunity is here to stay. How can it be elevated for years to come?
Many consumers shifted their top health focus to immunity in 2020. Soon, immunity support products popped up everywhere — but it led many in the industry to ask, “Is immunity here to stay?” A recent survey found that 77% of consumers globally are concerned about their personal health and the health of people close to them.1 This suggests that interest in immune health will have longevity that extends further than the pandemic. Innovative immunity ingredients making waves with consumers include:
- Orchard flavors like apple, pear, plum, lemon, and orange1
- Botanical ingredients like acerola, ginger, and adaptogens1
- Indulgent combinations like dark chocolate and cherry1
Expect to see these ingredients featured in familiar immune support applications like smoothies and supplements. They will also make a splash in new formats like salad dressings, salty snacks, and desserts.
3) Travel through your taste buds. These flavors and ingredients make creating globally inspired products easy.
Consumers with a passion for globe-trotting have most likely had to push the brakes on their adventures. As a result, many have explored global cuisines instead. They widen their flavor experiences with a variety of cuisines that are inspired by their unique interests, cultures, and dreams. For example, 47% of US consumers are inspired by Asian cuisines like Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese when making daily food choices.1
Finished products and foodservice offerings can capture the spirit of wanderlust with ingredients like:
- Dragon fruit
- Maqui berry
These adventurous ingredients are key to creating smoothies, desserts, and prepared foods that transport consumers to faraway places.
4) The restaurant experience at home. Let’s explore the future of gourmet.
31% of consumers say that they get flavor inspiration from eating out.1 Even as restaurants begin to reopen, many consumers will still choose to prepare food at home or opt for take-home options. That means prepared meals are getting an ultra-gourmet upgrade to satisfy the consumer need for fine dining, right from the comfort of their own homes! And taking some of the “work” out of preparing these culinary creations offers more than flavor appeal. Artisan vegetables like these will capture consumer attention:
- Fire-roasted portabella mushroom
- Fire-roasted eggplant
- Fire-roasted tomato
- Cauliflower as a refined carb alternative
Soups, salads, plant-based entrées, pizzas, and foodservice offerings will get an upscale makeover with fire-roasted ingredients.
Want to learn more about how you can bring these kinds of ingredients to your new product launches? Learn more about our extensive line of plant-based solutions — from apples to zucchini. Connect with a Sales Rep today!