Spicy heat should stay on the front burner in food and beverage flavor trends in 2018, and floral notes might take hold in more formulations as well. Also, flavors could play a role in drinking to wellness, and deep-fried flavor may be enjoyed — minus the frying.
This year an on-line survey found 90% of U.S. consumers and 80% of European consumers said they enjoy hot and spicy foods. In the United States, one out of four consumers said they were eating spicy foods more often than they did one year ago. In Europe, one out of five consumers said they were eating spicy foods more often than they did one year ago.
Two macro themes emerge in recent history: a desire for more spicy foods and a demand for more refined palates in spiciness,” the company said in an e-book called “Spicing up the food industry: Hot and spicy trends and insights.” “Hot and spicy foods also have found their way into general food trends, becoming more mainstream.”
The pepper varieties of serrano, Szechuan, poblano, habanero, chipotle, cayenne and jalapeño are popular among people who enjoy spicy food.
The Hatch chile pepper from the Hatch valley in New Mexico may add spice to more applications as well.
“We can expect food developers and marketers to call out specific descriptors for their ingredients such as California organic toasted onion or New Mexico red Hatch chile,” said Kristie Hung, marketing specialist at Sensient Natural Ingredients in Turlock, Calif. “Hatch chile in particular has been gaining traction amongst connoisseurs and chefs around the world. This coveted gem, with its mouth-watering aroma and bold flavor, works wonderfully in baked applications such as tortilla chips.”
Pointing out where the pepper comes from may appeal to millennials, she said.
“By calling out specific chili variety and its growing region on the label, such as New Mexico Hatch chile, a product with unique novelty stands out more among a sea of spicy products,” Ms. Hung said.
Dialing down the heat, Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, included floral flavors among its top 10 trends for 2018.
“Look for flowers used like herbs in things like lavender lattés and rose-flavored everything,” Whole Foods Market said. “Bright pink hibiscus teas are a hot (and iced) part of the trend, while elderflower is the new M.V.P. (most valuable petal) of cocktails and bubbly drinks.”
Brian Wilson, applications lab manager for Prova and based in Medford, Mass., senses good vibrations for floral flavors as well.
“We can expect companies to continue to differentiate their products by appealing to the trendy, upscale market by using various floral flavors like orange blossom, elderflower, lavender; spice flavors like cinnamon, cardamom, anise, ginger; and alcohol flavors like dark rum, whiskey, mescal,” he said.
Global flavors should be in demand, he added, citing taro, sesame and ube (purple sweet potato) that are popular in such Asian countries as Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Butter flavors may be in demand because of companies moving away from animal proteins and cost-savings.
“On the other side, we can expect the demand for comfort flavors like vanilla, cocoa/chocolate, and coffee to continue to rise,” Mr. Wilson said. “These are the tried-and-true flavors consumers know they can count on. We will see an increase in country-of-origin/single-origin varieties of these flavors along with more simplistic presentations to trigger the consumer’s nostalgia.”