A World of Flavour

After a few down years, travel is definitely back.

By the end of 2023, international travel had finally reached 80-90% of its pre-pandemic levels. This is significant because 2019 was when the number of global travellers reached an all-time high.

With nearly 50 years of consistent growth, it’s clear that people worldwide are curious and eager to experience what other countries have to offer.

Everything from the sights, the sounds, the cultures, and, of course, the food.

A World Food Travel Association study found that 95% of Americans identified as food travellers or people interested in a “unique food experience”. Of all travellers surveyed in the study, 81% believe that food allows them to learn more about the local culture.

Looking beyond “food tourism”, in a recent global survey from Innova Market Insights, two-thirds of consumers said they are open to trying new global cuisines.

Still, whether it’s from booking a plane ticket or vicariously feasting with your eyes on social media, people everywhere are looking for new ways to experience this world of flavour.

So much so that, along with Innova and several others, we listed it as one of our top flavour trends for 2024.

However, consumers aren’t the only ones looking to explore the world through their taste buds. As developers and food science professionals, trying new exciting flavours is at the top of our travel plans. For me travel is the pursuit of new flavour ideas not only for my home cooking but for my professional developments too.

The Tastes of Travelling: Inspiration You Can Savor

Anne Marie Butler, Edlong’s Global Director of Strategy and Innovation, is a major advocate for using travel to inspire the next generation of taste innovations.

ube-ice-cream

“There are some insights you can only gain through new experiences and trying things in different ways. When you get back to the lab, it can influence what you’re able to come up with. Traveling is probably one of the most interesting and exciting ways to approach food.”

How that inspiration strikes might depend on where you’re coming from.

In other words, what might be a run-of-the-mill or expected flavour in one country could be the next unexpected trending flavour in another.

For example, while “exotic” flavours like ube and tamarind find their footing on snack shelves in Western countries, “standard” American profiles such as cookies & cream or cheesecake continue to take off across Asia.

Understanding the interaction between cross-pollination and culinary exploration also allows developers to expand a consumer’s idea of what makes up a country’s “cuisine”.

Broadening Taste Horizons

Now, more than ever, the spotlight is focused on the diversity of regional flavours. Some examples of regions in countries already famous for their foods include Oaxaca and Guadalajara in Mexico and Naples and Sicily in southern Italy.

Another great example is BBQ, specifically the various styles of American BBQ. From Texas to the Carolinas, Memphis, or Kansas City, in some areas of the US, this is considered an art form.

Though many Americans could easily tell these apart, other countries are experiencing their nuanced differences for the first time.

Working with these subtleties in salt, acid and sweetness can allow developers to find new ways to give consumers what they already want.

As the health conscious consumer is always looking for alternatives, many sugar free developments can benefit from sweet flavours to add flavour notes to healthy versions.  Surprisingly enough Edlong’s sweet dairy range can have a hand in this, adding maple, caramel, brown or buttery notes. 

When consumers were asked what kind of new and unusual/exotic flavours they liked, 90% of respondents said “Local/Traditional flavours”. Interestingly, 82% stated that they like “Hot/Spicy” flavours.

Opting for a more internationally-inspired heat lends itself to a more well-traveled and “sophisticated spiciness” in the minds of consumers. This could be responsible for the increased popularity of profiles such as Jamaican Jerk, Szechuan Pepper, Korean Gochujang, Mexican Chamoy, or even Buffalo Sauce and Nashville Hot Chicken, to name a few. Dairy flavours pair exceptionally well with spice to balance heat and create mouthfeel that many of these profiles can benefit from to create an exceptional eating experience to excite the senses.

chamoy-and-mango

Unpacking Delicious: Bringing New Flavors to Local Consumers

Unsurprisingly, around 70% of people bring local food or beverages back as a souvenir or gift when they return home.

The challenge for developers is bringing these flavours to life for consumers without them having to go through customs!

For Butler, translating these tastes into successful innovations is based on one’s interpretation.

“In my mind, when you try something new, and you aren’t from that area, you tend to think of different potential combinations than the locals would. This is where the art of food science comes into play, especially coming from a development perspective. You’re like an artist drawing inspiration.”

She continues, “You think: I’m not going to try to copy this complete dish, but this specific ingredient would pair really well with this or that’. We see it in restaurant trends and fusion all the time, but it can also be key to making a flavour resonate in your home market.”

A significant part of this is finding the flavour balance and how to translate from one application to another.

Yet, whether you are striving to be “truly authentic” or only “inspired by”, recreating the tastes and textures of your travels will usually come with specific constraints and requirements.

world-flavors

In many cases, using the actual ingredient could be cost-prohibitive or simply not possible with your product.

This doesn’t have to be a problem.

Personal experience, travel sprinkled with intuition bring’s flavour ideas to life for many developers including myself. Understanding the science of taste, it’s possible to break down what inspired you about an ingredient in the first place and build it back up from the base.

Let’s say the original dish had soy sauce in it, but you can’t use that. So, maybe you could look to yeast or another umami-packed substitute.

It could be the tart, floral acidity of a fruit like yuzu. Citric acid, along with other compounds, might be able to add that lip-puckering sourness you need.

Do you want your profile to be fruity, spicy, earthy, acidic or something else?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to pack the flavour of a fiesta into a bag of chips or craft a microwavable curry to capture the taste of Mumbai (or London); it’s always better with the right travel partners.

Find out how our international team of experts can help you serve up a world of flavour for your consumers; no visa required.

About the Authors:

Anne Marie Butler,
Global Director of Strategy and Innovation

Anne Marie Butler, Edlong Global Director of Strategy and Innovation

Let’s connect on LinkedIn!

I help food stakeholders from startups to CPGs solve complex flavor problems and accelerate innovation within the food space. Through my 15+ years of experience, I’ve gained skills as a food technologist, thought partner, and leader. My clients and team appreciate my collaborative, humanistic approach to problem solving. In an increasingly tech-centric world, I think that human connection is the source of innovation. Through my work, I’ve realized how important it is to be more proactive about inviting stakeholders into conversations around flavor innovation. I’m not working alone, and I don’t want to be thinking alone either.

Emily Sheehan,
Applications Manager, EMEA

Emily Sheehan, Edlong EMEA Applications Manager

Let’s connect on LinkedIn!

Hi! I’m Emily Sheehan. I’m the Applications Manager, EMEA at Edlong, and my job is rooted in creating exciting new possibilities for our people and processes. It’s inspiring to reflect on how much Edlong has achieved and even more amazing to be involved in such thoughtful innovation. We enjoy pushing boundaries in food and flavour, and we welcome everyone in the food industry to join us. If you’re in need of expertise or inspiration, I’d love to collaborate and help you design flavour solutions that resonate with consumers!


Topics: Culinary indulgenceInnovationSnacks & bakerySoups & sidesSweet dairy flavors
Resource Type: Article
Resource Region: EULATAMUS

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