Flavour plays an integral role in shaping the food and drink industry’s landscape. So, we sought out updates and insights from experts at this year’s IFE tradeshow in London. We’ve compiled everything we learned so you can be updated on the latest in flavours!
Consumers are seeking out exciting and new flavour experiences. So, it’s important for your brand to stay ahead of the curve with new and innovative flavours.
Here are 3 trends and 2 things to consider, so you can connect with your audience and maintain a competitive edge:
Flavour 1: COMPLEX SPICE AND HEAT
The concept of comfort food has evolved beyond just pizza and burgers, particularly among Millennials and Gen Z. Over the past few years we’ve seen a surge of the convenience and popularity of food delivery apps. And so, dishes like sushi, pho, and ramen have expanded our understanding of what ‘comforting’ flavours mean. As a result, our taste buds are increasingly open to a diverse range of flavours from around the world.
Spicy and fermented flavours from Asia like kimchi, sambal, gochujang and harissa are gaining more interest. More interest in these creative spice combinations mean you can extend your flavour profiles to push innovation and cater to changing tastes.
Flavour 2: FLEXING & UPCYCLING
‘Flexing’ ingredients: using ingredients beyond their intended purpose.
‘Upcycling’ ingredients: using ingredients that would not otherwise have been consumed.
These two processes will be all the more essential, especially during inflationary pressures. As consumers feel the financial bite, they will likely seek ingredients and recipes that allow them to stretch ingredients. For example, Nadiya’s banana skin bagels take banana peels (that many would throw away) and incorporates it into the recipe to minimise waste and maximise nutritional value!
Many parts of the world that adopt a collectivist and community-facing food mentality, often have inherently eco friendly food behaviours. From Australian indigenous tribes’ foraging, to Asian countries’ holistic cooking methods, we’re seeing these approaches being picked up more on a supply chain level.
Flavour 3: MUSHROOMS
During Mary Allen‘s talk on the Top 10 natural/organic food trends at this year’s Natural & Organic Products Europe (NOPE), mushrooms were identified as a rising star ingredient. Consumers are seeking more sustainable and natural ingredients and so, the demand for speciality mushrooms is growing.
Trumpet mushrooms are very popular due to their slightly smoky flavour which can greatly enhance a dish. Oyster mushrooms are also very popular as their unique texture makes them an excellent substitute for pulled pork!
As well as being tasty, mushrooms are packed with functional health benefits. They’re a fantastic ingredient for health-conscious consumers who want to add flavour without sacrificing nutrition. We saw brands at NOPE like the Finnish brand KÄÄPÄ who specialise in functional mushroom extracts.
Consideration 1: THE TIKTOK BOOM!
With TikTok being mentioned so frequently it’s can be easy to underestimate its influence!
TikTok has blown up the food world and simultaneously contained the personal nature of sharing recipes and cultures. Over just a few years, the app has bridged foodies from different ends of the planet with a love for creativity and new flavours.
The ‘Salmon Rice Bowl’, Weetabix Cheesecakes and Tabitha Brown’s ‘Carrot Bacon‘ are just some examples of recipes that have gone viral on the app. With each viral TikTok we saw more openness and excitement around East Asian, Vegan and creative ‘ingredient-flexing’ recipes.
Similarly, popular Netflix food documentaries like Chef’s Table (a personal favourite of mine!) focus on food and flavours through the lens of quality, rituals, and cultural and historical roots. We’re living in a new and exciting era of recipes and ingredients in media that we haven’t seen before on this scale!
Consideration 2: Avoiding overproduction and overconsumption.
Ask any chef and I’m sure they’ll agree that the key to good flavours is good ingredients. And good ingredients require a deep understanding of nature and foraging.
With climate change and the environmental challenges of consumption, the food and drink industry is facing new challenges. Increased temperatures and sun exposure is damaging coffee bean supply chains, and the overconsumption of mint is pushing its scarcity.
Currently, the industry is dominated by a monoculture of flavours. It’s necessary to break out of this to achieve diverse and unique flavours, without straining the environment. Outside of flexing ingredients, which we previously mentioned, there are ways to support eco-friendly cooking and foraging.
Commercially viable ingredients like dulse (red algae), spirulina, and sea grapes can also provide exciting new flavours.
e.g. The Single Origin Food Co’s Vegan Honey uses natural plant-based ingredients like medjool dates and coconut and organic flower pollen as the base of their honey.
The bottom line? To combat overconsumption, it’s important not to blindly follow trends.
Similar to our packaging trends findings at IFE 2023, combatting the risk of environmentally harmful brand strategy boils down to having a crystal clear picture of what your consumers want and need.
Instead of gut instinct or guessing, it’s essential to truly understand what is meaningful to your consumers and cater to that. This ultimately allows for efficient and effective innovation that minimises damage to your budget and the planet!
Thinking about your next innovative flavour? Why not lead it with consumer research!
If you’re thinking about your next flavour launch and want to test it with consumer research, we’d love to chat about how we can help. Have a look at what that would involve here.
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