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Last Updated on November 25, 2020 by Novotaste

Flavour producer McCormick Flavor Solutions has launched its annual flavour forecast, which showcases the top flavour trends impacting the food and beverage sector.

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Flavor Forecast: Looking Back to Look Forward report covers how past and present flavour trends intersect to shape tomorrow’s tastes.

The company said its team of food scientists and flavour experts have partnered with culinary trendsetters and top chefs globally to create the Flavor Forecast. This international team assesses food and beverage trends, from those on the verge of widespread appeal to those just beginning to gain notice.

Gary Patterson, executive research chef at McCormick, said that in 20 years of forecasting, the company has identified trends that have and will shake up the way we cook, flavour and eat.

“These discoveries impacted food and drink culture in the most exciting ways,” he said.

“From travel and health to pleasure and indulgence, it’s about how these things connect us to food and drinks while also offering sensory delight to create the ultimate experience.”

McCormick said the report focuses on four themes that chefs, product developers and industry professionals can draw inspiration from to create unique experiences for menus, packaged food and drink and more. The trends are:

Sweet and seasonal satisfaction

From simple to complex, sweetness provides consumers with an indulgent and seasonal escape and a chance to enjoy every sensorial detail of food and eating. Seasonal profiles’ ‘limited time’ nature is what makes them resonate on an emotional level with consumers. Whether formal or informal, consumers look forward to these flavours again and again.

Featured trends:

Smoked spices and herbs: A build on familiar smoky flavours, like smoked cinnamon and cardamom, dials up richness in meals and drinks.

Pumpkin pie spice and coconut milk: An unexpected duo, this warm pairing of pantry staples reconnects the components of a familiar spice mixture with tropical roots.

Meyer lemon with lemon thyme, limoncello and lemon peel: The notes of acidity, bitterness, sweetness and herbal showcases lemon’s multidimensional flavour profile.

Ancho chile pepper and hibiscus — vitality in bloom: Tart, floral notes of exotic hibiscus, alongside the lingering heat of ancho chile pepper, create a lively Latin combo.

In 2010, pumpkin pie spice was in the ‘always in seasons’ trend. The quintessential flavour for cooler months, pumpkin pie spice delivers sweet brown notes like cinnamon and ginger. Over the years, this warming spice has become synonymous with fall and has appeared in a variety of applications. Pumpkin pie spice has seen a 218% increase in US menu mentions between 2010 and 20201 and a 207% increase in food and drink retail product names between 2010 and 2019.

What does all this mean for the future of sweet and seasonal satisfaction? More blurred boundaries and the fusion of sweet with everything from heat to savoury, sour and salty for brand-new sensory experiences. With every sip or bite, the bar will be raised for the next taste experience in desserts, baked goods, cereal, beverages and beyond.

Hibiscus and ancho chile. Image supplied by McCormick Flavor Solutions.

Spicy (r)evolution

When it comes to the history of Flavor Forecast, there’s never been a shortage of bold and spicy profiles. Consumers crave it — heat and spice offer a sensory experience and enjoyment like no other. Heat is now everywhere, from grocery store shelves to upscale dining establishments, and eating spicy for fun, delight and dares are now social pastimes.

Featured trends:

Chillies obsession: Aji amarillo, guajillo, tien tsin and chilie de arbol are chillies to watch as they bring a unique level of heat, distinctive flavour and usage to the table.

Heat plus tang: Tangy contrasts balance heat in sauces and seasonings, like chamoy sauce from Mexico and sambal sauce from Southeast Asia.

Sweet on pepper: Hiding in plain sight for years, pepper’s bite is tempered by naturally sweet ingredients like syrups and exotic fruits.

In 2014, Chamoy was featured in the ‘Mexican world tour’ trend when people were craving aspects of the bright, casual cuisine of Mexico. This condiment is made from pickled fruit, lime, spice and chillies and is most often used as an ingredient in appetisers, entrees and drinks, such as spicy margaritas and micheladas. Chamoy has seen a 1115% increase in US menu mentions between 2014 and 2020.

As for the future of spicy (r)evolution? Expect menus and products to raise the bar with creative pairings of heat in applications like cocktails, baked goods, marinades and more. Trends like chillies obsession, heat plus tang and sweet on pepper will grow in application for multidimensional heat.

Sambal sauce from SouthEeast Asia. Image supplied by McCormick Flavor Solutions.

Global finds

As the desire for hyper-local tastes has increased, some consumers crave global dishes in their traditional form, while others prefer more approachable fusions. Through ingredient combinations, signature dishes or cooking methods, chefs can celebrate and bring to life these ethnic cuisines.

Featured trends:

Brazilian tempero baiano seasoning: A blend of oregano, parsley, peppers and cumin creates a rich blend great for stews, seafood and vegetable dishes.

Mexican recados: Originating with the Mayans, this sour orange and annatto-flavoured yucatan spice paste is used in marinades for hearty cuts of meat, like cochinita pibil (pulled pork).

Dukkah: A mix of toasted nuts and seeds from North Africa that can be salty, sweet or spicy and goes great with olive oil-dipped pita bread, vegetables, meat and more.

Modern Mediterranean: Eastern Mediterranean ingredients meet Western European classics, with ingredients like barberries and baharat seasoning.

Japanese izakaya eats: Izakayas, Japanese gastropubs, serve up casual tasting plates, similar to Spanish tapas, that feature bold glazes, tangy sauces and seaweed seasonings.

Filipino pinoy BBQ: These tender, juicy meat skewers are flavoured with soy sauce, lemon, garlic, sugar, pepper and banana ketchup to create a sweet, savoury and spicy dish.

Indian Kashmiri: Similar to garam masala, this is a fragrant blend from the Kashmir region for seasoning lamb dishes, like classic rogan josh, chicken curries and vegetables.

In 2013, dukkah was forecasted in the ‘empowered eating’ trend and was paired with market-fresh broccoli to deliver satisfying flavours and textures. This simple mix of toasted nuts and seeds can be customised to be salty, sweet or spicy. Typically sprinkled on olive oil-dipped pita bread, it’s delicious with vegetables, pasta and rice, or rubbed onto seafood and meats before grilling. Simply put, dukkah can’t be stopped, as there has been a 267% increase in US menu mentions of the spice since 2013.

What’s the next stop for global finds? As 2020 has brought about a new normal, demand for global flavours will likely increase with consumers stuck at home and unpredictable travel restrictions. Look to these global profiles for inspiration for restaurant menus and product innovation.

Japanese furikake. Image supplied by McCormick Flavor Solutions.

Empowered eating and drinking

Health and wellness have always been top of mind in past forecasts. Lifestyle and food are more intertwined than ever before, but the flavour doesn’t need to be compromised to meet nutritional needs. Far beyond just eliminating fat, sugar, salt and other perceived ‘bad ingredients’ from the diet, health and wellness have become highly personalised with a flexible approach to eating.

Featured trends:

Alternative pulse proteins: High-protein legumes like pigeon peas, cranberry beans and black beluga lentils are easily elevated when paired with delicious ingredients.

Blends with benefits: Good-for-you ingredients like matcha, chia seeds, turmeric and flaxseed bring everyday versatility to meals, drinks and snacks.

Umami veggies: Activated by veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and nori, the ‘fifth taste’ continues to gain popularity with foods like snacks, desserts, beverages and dips.

In 2016, turmeric was forecasted within ‘blends with benefits’. Blended with cocoa, cinnamon and nutmeg, it goes great in smoothies, drinks and baked goods. Turmeric has seen a 110% increase in US menu mentions and a 253% increase in food and drink retail product names between 2014 and 2019.

Empowered eating and plant-based diets are here to stay. Expect menus and ingredients to explore these trends from breakfast to late-night eats to creative pairings of flavour and nutrition.

Orange, papaya, cinnamon and turmeric smoothie.

Bottom and top image supplied by McCormick Flavor Solutions.

Source: Flavour trends to stir into the F&B industry for 2021

Hibiscus-inspired flavours