For fine chocolate brands, there’s no better month than January to learn about the expected flavor trends that will possibly recondition inspiration for new products they were already thinking about in the previous year.
Through a systematic collection and accurate elaboration of data around the world, market agencies and ingredient suppliers continually analyze consumer’s behavior so that they can never lie about the most mind-blowing food flavor trends foreseen for each new year.
For 2020, clear are the macro-flavor trends that fine chocolate brands cannot fail to contemplate to upscale their sales—based on what the most demanding food consumer currently craves or will be asking more:
1) Blue and Aqua
Colors associated with flavors that evoke health and wellness continue to play well with foodies and millennials on social media.
If 2019 saw a celebration of romantic pink and coral shades, 2020 will be characterized by the rarer blue and aqua tones.
Swiss flavor company Firmenich has hailed “Classic Blueberry” as flavor of the year for 2020, due to the fruit’s longstanding association with wellbeing and its calming Classic Blue tint, listed as color of the year by Pantone.
Blueberry has standout floral notes and distinct tanginess, with fresh green and sweet elements woven in. All these elements make blueberry not only a sophisticated but familiar flavor alone but also one that pairs well with other flavors.
Meanwhile, EXBERRY® Coloring Foods highlights “Shades of Aqua” as a key color trend for 2020, featuring unusual blue shades derived from spirulina powders.
As blue is a notoriously scarce color in the palette of natural foods and consumers expect all-natural ingredients, a challenge for the producer is to preserve a desired color effect in the finished product.
Most of the natural blue color in nature originates from a type of flavonoids (antioxidant substances) called anthocyanins—which are the same compounds giving the nibs of fresh cocoa beans a hue ranging from the deepest purple to the palest pink. Other foods like spirulina algae get their typical blue-greenish hint from an accessory pigment to chlorophyll known as phycocyanin.
Maybe the most spectacular of the blue anthocyanins is the butterfly pea flower (Clitoria ternatea). This pea vine produces stunningly bright blue flowers.
Thai, Malaysian, Burmese, and Chinese cooking traditions all make use of this rare blossom. The flowers can be dried or used fresh, to make vibrant blue infusions and herbal teas with a mild hint reminiscent of cucumber.
The reason natural blue pigments are as rare to find as hard to maintain in food is due to their instability, affected by the pH they are exposed to. The blue hints in the food will lean toward the blue/green range in alkaline conditions (pH > 7) and the purple/red range in acidic ones (pH < 7).
Since nearly all foods are acidic—also due to natural or induced fermentation processes—that’s another reason why blue is the natural color less likely to admire in a food.
2) Coffee and Tea
3) Herbs and Spices
The characterizing taste profiles of highly functional ingredients such as healing herbs and spices will grow in popularity alongside the increased emphasis on emerging health trends.
Consumers continue to be drawn to spicy flavors from a range of cuisines that include cardamom, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, chili, garlic, etc. as standalone inclusions or creative blends.
Sea Salt or “Fleur de Sal” will not only remain an absolute evergreen for sweet and savory contrasts with chocolate, but also elevate its status as an everyday ingredient in 2020 by being combined and marketed with other flavors. For example, state-of-the-art supplier SaltWorks proposes a fusion line of naturally-flavored gourmet salts, matching sea salt with traditional and contemporary ingredients, such as espresso, vintage merlot, roasted garlic, rosemary, black truffle, thai ginger, ghost pepper, lime, chipotle, jalapeño, habanero, and sriracha: