2018 Flavor Trends: A Comprehensive Overview

With 2018 nearly upon us, it is time to look ahead at the global flavor trends that are set to dominate the new year.

 

Flavor Trends

Over the past 5 years, maple flavors have been finding broader and more sophisticated application. A good example of this is its pairing with whiskey in winter cocktails. Maple is expected to become more prolific, particularly for fall 2018 where it might dethrone pumpkin spice beverages – or, at the very least, give them a run for their money…

Various caramel profiles, which never truly go away, will also gain popularity in the new year. Burnt caramel or crème brûlée profiles, in particular, will be a big hit and might also become a force in the hot beverage world. Salted caramel, scientifically proven to be an ideal flavor pairing, is not going anywhere. Another profile to be aware of is brown butter flavoring. Brown butter, a nutty, toasted butter that works equally well in sweet and savory applications, can add depth and complexity to baked goods or any butter-based product. Brown butter pairs well with pecan and hazelnut but is also effective on its own.

Ethnic flavors, particularly spicy & hot profiles, will continue to diversify next year. Region-specific foods such as African cuisine and provincial Mexican dishes are two categories expected to expand in 2018. Additional growth is forecast for Moroccan, Indian and Thai-styled spice blends, which are not new but continue to gain steam. However, Middle Eastern flavors, which have become more popular in recent years, are likely to be in highest demand. Harissa, cardamom and za’atar spices are flavor profiles that will certainly make an impact in 2018. Filipino flavours & cuisine is also becoming very popular.

Floral cuisine & flavors are also set to really take hold in 2018. Hibiscus and orange blossom flavors have already been creeping into the market, but expect more from these profiles and others, including elderflower, lavender, rose and violet. Chrysanthemum, cherry blossom, orange blossom and jasmine flavors have made their way into products ranging from simple flavored water to ice creams to RTD beverages and cocktails. Wholefoods expects floral coffee beverages, cocktails and snack foods to also be a hit in the new year.

Earthy and herbal flavors like kombucha and matcha will make even more of a statement in 2018. These flavors are associated with wellness and health. Similarly, ginger tea flavors were among the most popular internet search topics this year, in both Mexico and Spain. Earthy mushroom flavors will also be in demand, including trendier fungi like reishi and chaga mushrooms.  These flavors will find their way into unexpected applications, even as far as being incorporated into teas and coffees.

An interesting new ingredient is also set to become available to food companies in 2018: cannabis. With the coming legalization of marijuana in Canada, and broader legalization in the United States, marijuana-derived flavors will increasingly find their way into foods. Flavored cannabis, similar to flavored cigars and electronic cigarette juice, is also expected to hit shelves shortly following legalization, with companies and connoisseurs already investigating ideal flavor pairings, such as gin.

 

Beverage Flavor Trends

There are many beverage trends that we are keeping an eye on for 2018.

Ready to drink beverages will take up even more space in the new year. Cold-brew coffees will grow in popularity. Pecan and hazelnut-flavored cold coffees will be popular pairings. RTDs will also take an interesting new direction by pairing with floral flavors, in keeping with trends, so expect to see flavors like lavender make their way into your morning brew.

The sparkling beverage segment will continue to grow at the expense of traditional sodas. This category offers an excellent opportunity to provide consumers with healthy beverage alternatives while showcasing a clean, impactful flavor profile. When it comes to sparkling beverages, which are relatively naked products, flavor is key. There will even carbonated coffee drinks.

In the world of spirits, an old classic continues its meteoric return to popularity: gin. Gin has recently become trendy again and its popularity is expected to climb throughout 2018. Japanese whiskeys and un-aged whiskeys will also continue to gain popularity, due in part to their perceived ‘lightness’ and the pleasant effect they contribute as the centerpiece ingredient in cocktails. Similarly, Mezcal, a Mexican spirit with a smoky, vegetal character, will find its way onto the cocktail scene.

Consumers will expect more bang for their buck in 2018, as the tendency towards moderation and sobriety endures. Cocktails, in general, are expected to become more bold and complex and incorporate ‘antique’ spirits like apricot brandy and vintage rums. Special ingredients like kombucha, fresh juices and activated charcoal will be incorporated into cocktails for their perceived benefits to wellness. And, as recently discussed, mocktails will continue to gain steam. Culinary cocktails are strengthening the bond between the bar and the kitchen. These days, everything from sea urchin to heirloom tomatoes to arugula can be added to drinks to add complexity.

Consumers are also embracing less sugar and more spice & savory profiles to coffees, as well as warm flavors like ginger or turmeric in teas. This is part of a larger trend, toward less sweet and more “complex” food and beverages that embrace savory, pickled or bitter notes.

 

Increased demand for essential oils

Essential oils are gaining in popularity due to their various properties, interesting flavor profiles & clean label implications. They can either be directly used or transformed into water soluble flavour solutions or extracts. Some of the most trendy essential oils for 2018 include:

Cardamom | Black pepper | Ginger | Lavender | Bergamot | Rosemary | Chamomile

Recent essential oil trends

Transforming food trends into flavor solutions

While there are many flavor trends for 2018, there are also various food trends that are worth mentioning. The flavor profiles of these foods, beverages, dishes etc.. can be transformed into a flavour system for most applications:

Fig
Turmeric latte
Coconut
Pumpkin spice
Pandan
Apple tart latte
Honey vinegar
Ruby chocolate
Cookie dough
Gin & tonic
Pickles
Fried chicken

 

Search the Novotaste website for other flavor ideas & trends

This article was meant to provide an overview of flavour trend predictions for 2018. If you want more details regarding specific flavors or want to investigate other possible trends, use the handy search tool located on the top right corner of the Novotaste website, browse through our blog or contact us.

Flavour trends

Food trends

Beverage trends

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