Comax Flavors has released its annual flavor trends predictions, with the company organizing them into four collections. Each collection has several applications, including beverages, plant-based applications, savory products, dairy, baked goods and nutrition and performance products, according to a company release.
They are: Drink To Your Health, which includes Avocado Daiquiri, Blackberry Lilac Tea Cooler and Harvest Spritzer; Meatless Meals, including Asian Stir Fry, Spicy Fried Chicken and Street Taco; A Passage To India, featuring Indian Vegetable Curry, Mango Lassi and Masala Spiced Donut; and Steeped In Culture, which includes Five Spice Kombucha, Pickled Beet & Onion and Pickled Peach flavors.
The flavor technology company also noted the consumer trends and dollar sales driving each of these collections. The beverage category, for example, is based on increasing demand for bottled still and sparkling water, ready-to-drink teas, coffee, juice and "mocktails," or non-alcoholic mixed drinks, the company said in its release.
As consumers become more interested in healthier food, flavors are also trending that way. Three of the four flavor collections Comax has developed involve wellness — beverages with fewer calories, less sugar, more naturally sourced ingredients and functional add-ons; plant-based meat alternatives; and fermented and pickled foods and beverages offering probiotics and "friendly bacteria."
Manufacturers have already been incorporating these flavors and ingredients into their products, but the latest trend projections might give them added incentive to do more in the coming year. Beyond Foods and Impossible Foods have both seen consumer success with their plant-based meat alternative products lately, with the former contemplating an IPO and the latter's sliders being offered at White Castle this year and burgers coming to retail stores in January.
Such category investments are a solid indication the trend is here to stay and not just a flash-in-the-pan fad. While it remains to be seen whether Comax's prediction of popularity for Asian Stir Fry, Spicy Fried Chicken and Street Taco flavors in the plant-based meat alternatives collection will prove out, it will be interesting to see what new products, flavors and ingredients emerge in the segment.
In the beverage arena, it's easier to imagine how Avocado Daiquiri, Blackberry Lilac Tea Cooler and Harvest Spritzer flavors could emerge in newly introduced products next year. These debuts could involve alcohol-free products, as well as refreshing sparkling and tea-based products for picnics and warmer weather activities.
Some of the flavor profiles are more of a sure bet with a broad range of consumers, while others may be more likely to appeal to the growing number of those interested in exotic culinary experiences. These trends might bring forth more snacks and frozen entrées featuring curry combinations, garam masala, fruits or individual spices such as cardamom and ginger.
Comax doesn't appear to be going too far out on a forecasting limb here. According to research from Innova Market Insights, ethnic flavors are some of the more popular ones today, thanks in part to the prevalence of food trucks. From 2013 to 2017, products featuring ethnic flavors grew by 20% — particularly those imported from Mexico, India and Spain — while products offering "American flavors" dropped by 7.2%.