New flavors on the block? Floral, seaweed and exotic citrus long for staying power
Different types of seaweed, such as powdered dulse sprinkled over soup or pasta, or kombu used as a thickening agent, are growing in popularity — buoyed by ongoing appreciation for nori in sushi and snacks. Unusual citrus varieties like yuzu and kefir lime, and floral ingredients like hibiscus, lavender and rosewater also are on the rise.
- The trendiest flavors and ingredients aren’t necessarily new, but they are expanding rapidly in menu mentions and retail applications. Flavor forecaster Suzy Badaracco identified smoke, char, tea, vinegar, beets, pumpkin, natural sugars, chilies and alcohol flavors like bourbon as potential long-term flavor trends.
Creative flavors are in more demand than ever, with consumers looking for authentic tastes in place of all-purpose seasonings. This is challenging for manufacturers who struggle to keep up – and even to identify – the cutting edge of flavor trends.
Often the latest trends emerge in fine dining before passing into specialist consumer food magazines and television programs. If they are more than a fad, they get picked up by mainstream family restaurants, then family-oriented consumer magazines, and finally they appear in retail applications and quick service restaurants, according to the Center for Culinary Development. Food manufacturers tend to be the final link, incorporating trendy flavors into classic formulations or rolling out new products if the trend appears to have staying power.
The majority of consumers may not be clamoring for seaweed and yuzu lime in packaged foods, but ten years ago sriracha was still considered relatively exotic, and kale took up much less space in the produce department or the snack aisle. Now, both items are ubiquitous in the food space, and can be found in everything from breakfast foods to desserts. One company even developed Sriracha Seasoning Stix that can be placed inside meat, poultry and fish where they melt during cooking, providing a burst of flavor.
It will likely take a few years before floral, umami and exotic citrus flavors become more mainstream, but manufacturers may want to start looking for ways to incorporate these flavors into their formulations. This could be especially productive in the beverage space, where consumers are seeking unusual flavors from craft soda and sparkling tonics.
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