Trends show hunger for spice, sprouted grains and international flavors
New twists on traditional flavors and combinations were showcased as the latest way to satisfy consumers’ tastes at the summer Fancy Food Show.
Trend spotter for the Specialty Food Association Kara Nielsen said ingredient highlights included spicy granola, chocolate dessert hummus, spices that are sprayed on instead of sprinkled, and spicy maple syrup. Grains and cereals featured more sprouted seeds and a variety of other options, like a paleo baking flour from Bob’s Red Mill offers a paleo baking flour. Pickled and fermented products were also front and center.
Nielsen said traditional food and beverages are undergoing transformations with a global perspective. Middle Eastern staples like laban, a savory yogurt with olive oil, and za’atar, a spice and nut mix, are starting to appear on shelves.
Pickled and fermented flavors
Nielsen said that the appetite for pickled food--once the hottest flavor trend--has subsided a bit.
Pickled ingredients have become more popular at restaurants, with a 56% increase in the number of menu mentions between 2013 and now, Mintel foodservice analyst Diana Kelter said in an email.
"When an ingredient is pickled, it leaves the consumer with a flavor cue of what to expect, which enhances the flavor profile of the entire dish," she said.
Fermentation is being used to develop new ingredient solutions, Euromonitor International ingredients analyst John George wrote in a market report published in December.
He wrote about a fermented solution for stevia glycosides, which are hard to extract, but offer a better taste profile.
Spice meets honey and maple
Mike’s Hot Honey, which is infused with chili peppers, is an example of the new swing of the old trend. At the Fancy Foods show, Bushwick Kitchen offered Trees Knees maple syrups, available in cinnamon and spicy flavors.
"There is a lot more license for manufacturers to get inventive with savory sweet chiles and different kinds of spices," Nielsen said.
Maple flavors are also appearing in products like water and Greek yogurt.
"All this is a continued message that we are cutting down on sugars," Nielsen said.
Tea or coffee?
The RTD teas on display at Fancy Foods that were only slightly sweetened--if at all-- also show that many consumers are cutting back on sugar.
"This is a continuation of moving away from the sodas. We are seeing new, smaller brands of tea," Nielsen said.
Matcha, which is a specialized powdered form of green tea, is also becoming more popular. It’s being flavored with fruits like watermelon to appeal to a broader audience. Elderberry and elderflower are making more appearances in teas and other beverages.
Coffee flavor is also appearing in several products. It can be found in beverages, such as cold brew and nitro coffees, but also in nut butters, like Morning Joe spread from Karmalize.Me. Seattle Chocolates makes a product with coffee flour.
Nuts and grains
Food items with nuts, seeds and sprouts are becoming popular. Ancient grains that are gluten free, such as buckwheat, are also being offered.
"One trend that has come over from the natural channel side is grain free items such as granolas, crackers and a host of non-wheat flours," Nielsen said.
New spins on international flavors
"International influence will continue to play a strong role in defining new trends and flavors," Kelter wrote. And regional trends, like the popular Hawaiian fish salad poke, are appearing on menus across the country.
Nielsen noted new twists on Southeast Asian flavors. Denver-based Yai’s Thai makes a salsa with Thai flavor, bringing the more meal-based flavor to the realm of snacking.
Bone broth, made popular by the protein, paleo and better-for-you snack trends, continues to do well. Nona Lim sells several flavors of bone broth, including Thai curry and lime and Vietnamese pho.
"It is not dissimilar from some of the drinkable soups we are seeing," Nielsen said.