Comax Flavors' annual trend list for 2018, comprising unique flavor collections, are plant-based products, desire for better sleep, millennial pink, and mashups and hybrids, according to a company release.
Each of these flavors is designed with a specific consumer trend in mind and is intended to be incorporated across a variety of food and beverage applications, according to Prepared Foods.
For plant-based products, Comax developed salted caramel s'mores for cashew milk, sweet potato maple cinnamon made for almond milk and turmeric golden milk for coconut milk. For the better sleep trend, it came up with the flavors cherry chamomile, honey lavender and warm milk. For the millennial pink trend, it named the flavors pineapple watermelon, pink & white cookie and rosé black cherry lemonade. And for its mashups and hybrids trend, it developed the flavors deep fried cookie dough, raspberry chipotle and whiskey pickle.
Comax isn't going too far out on a limb with most of these collections. Many of these flavors — salted caramel, cookie dough, maple, turmeric, honey lavender and rosé — started showing up this year or before that in ice cream, water, rice, candy and wine.
Salted caramel seems to have staying power since consumers like salty foods and sticky-sweet confections. Halo Top just added a sea salt caramel flavor to its vegan lineup, and the cookie dough flavor holds a solid place in its lineup of low-calorie ice creams.
Maple is a solid bet for greater prominence, since it's been giving pumpkin and coconut a run for their money as an ingredient in water, yogurt, salad dressing and other products. It's perceived as healthier than processed sugar and also seems to carry seasonal cachet by evoking autumn. Chances are it has a few applications left to discover.
Rosé may have peaked due to overexposure the past few years, so whether it stays popular for another season depends on the enthusiasm of its devotees. It's hard to imagine how much pinker things in the beverage world can become, although seasonal opportunities for light summer drinks aren't likely to be ignored in 2018.
The flavor applications for plant-based milks may be the most promising since the appeal of non-dairy products shows no sign of slowing down. It's easy to imagine added flavor combinations turning up in the refrigerated case as dairy alternative companies work to differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded field.
Whiskey pickle, meanwhile, seems like a real stretch. It could be just the ticket for some adventurous consumers next year — namely millennials, who were the driving force behind whiskey's 7.7% sales increase last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.