The latest news, views and insights in food trends
The last few years have been chock full of innovation in the flavor category. What flavors will consumers crave in 2023?
Content & Research, Tastewise
Later this fall, we’ll be releasing our annual market report on food and beverage trends to watch in the new year (request your advance copy here). Ahead of the full research, we wanted to offer an amuse bouche, if you will, of the flavor trends we’re watching in Q4 in the US.
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One of the most significant food & beverage trends to emerge from pandemic-era consumer behavior is kitchen travel - using food and drink to explore the cuisines, cultures, and stories of places around the globe. As 2023 approaches, this pandemic-era behavior has evolved; kitchen travel taps into consumer motivations like authenticity and adventure, both of which are rising in popularity beyond the confines of the pandemic.
Tastewise data shows a surge in consumer interest in Latin American flavors. If we take a look at the beverage category, a few Latin American specialities are gaining traction: Horchata, a sweet rice drink popular in Mexican cuisine, is up +16% YoY in consumer interest while tepache, a cold fermented beverage with pineapple and cinnamon hailing from pre-Colombian Mexico, is growing +61% YoY. Aguas frescas are also increasingly in American glasses; the refreshing beverage has grown nearly 42% in consumer interest over the last year.
Aguas frescas are a great canvas for flavor, requiring simple preparation that allows an inexhaustible number of fruit flavors to shine. Tastewise data shows that stone fruit and citrus flavors are trending in the category, with apricot, plum, lychee, and yuzu all trending YoY in consumer interest as agua fresca flavors.
Florals for back, big time. The floral flavor trend has been on the rise over the last few years, making its mark in confectionery and beverage categories. In the past two years, floral flavor profiles have grown +91% in consumer interest. We expect to see florals expand in 2023 as consumers open up to experimenting with florals in new dishes & categories -- all while bringing growing interest in functional health to the table.
Floral flavors like ylang ylang (+42% YoY in consumer interest) and vetiver (+67% YoY) offer deep, rich, and complex sensory experiences on the plate -- and are also celebrated for their stress relief qualities.
Botanicals are already part of the beverage innovation landscape, cropping up often in alcoholic and RTD non-alcoholic drinks; the category broadly has grown +31% in consumer interest in the last 2 years. Botanicals are particularly gaining traction in restaurants, as menu mentions of the category have increased +97% in the last 2 years.
Like their floral counterparts, botanicals are highly correlated with functional benefits; we expect to increasingly see botanicals in unexpected categories (like condiments! see below) in 2023 as consumers expand the scope of their functional demands and look in new places for health benefits.
Tip: Baby Boomers appear to be invested in the benefits of botanicals in food and beverage more than ever before; check out the graph below to see the growth in Baby Boomer interest over the past 2 years. Consider this audience when including botanical flavors (and their functional health benefits!) in your next product.
Sweet is the most popular taste profile in the US, showing up in the plate or glass in some form in 4% of all dining occasions. However, the reliable favorite has taken a downturn in recent years; consumer callouts of sweet food and drink on social media have decreased 25% in the last two years, while spicy - another American favorite - has fallen -41% in the same time period.
While still popular, these two taste categories are in need of reinvigoration. What has stepped up to the challenge? Spicy honey! The sweet and spicy condiment has grown +53% in consumer interest in the last two years, and +26% in the last year alone which indicates steady growth. By combining two taste profiles in one accessible format, spicy honey offers new interest to a stagnant category. We expect to see fusion taste profiles continue to rise in 2023 and look for new ways to get excite the tastebuds on the plate.
Request your early copy of our Flavor Trends 2023 report when it launches, and get a head start on 2023 innovation.