With 2024 fast approaching, I wanted to take a look at a few of the potential flavor trends we see on the horizon and how Edlong can help you get ahead of them for success next year and beyond.
According to Innova’s 2023 Flavor Survey, 1 in 3 Gen Z and Millenials are most influenced by new/unique/different flavors when purchasing food and beverage products.
Consumer sentiments like these lead Dr. Bernd Koehler, Edlong’s Global VP of R&D, to believe that in this next year, we could see a rise in products that pair complex flavors in new and unexpected ways.
“I am sensing companies are going to start looking at combining adjacent flavors that delight your taste buds. For example, by taking “perfect pairings” of foods that you’d eat together like wine or fruit and cheese and combining the two flavors into a unique new product. It appeals to convenience and cost in a way that makes more interesting versions of things they already enjoy.” explains Dr.Koehler.
Examples of such pairings, like Chicken and waffle-flavored ice cream, are already showing up in restaurants and stores. Still, they also point to consumers’ desires for both the comfort of the familiar and the excitement of the novel.
In addition to ⅓ of consumers looking for new flavors, 44% said products with nostalgic/traditional flavors influence their purchase decisions. Add this to the 49% that have been looking for more intense/bold flavors over the past year, and the possibility for combinations might literally be endless.
Beyond “newstalgia” and familiar flavors in new packages, no other flavor combo has seen as much of a rise in popularity as the social media sensation of sweet and spicy.
#Swicy: Taking the trend from Social Media to the Supermarket and Beyond
Between using products like Tajin and Chamoy on fruit-forward foods or hot honey on everything else, sweet, and spicy has captured consumer attention and imagination in a big way.
At a recent trade show, we demoed spicy caramel popcorn. Attendees couldn’t get enough of the sweetness of the crunchy caramel coating which perfectly balanced the spiciness of the chili and cheese seasoning.
However, it also highlighted that regardless of your spice level, your product will only succeed if it has balance. At Edlong, our wide range of cream and mouthfeel flavors can help to balance that spice level and make your profile more authentic, allowing consumers to enjoy your innovations fully.
Authenticity is also key when we consider this spice isn’t only coming from your typical chilis. People are travelling more and becoming more adventurous in terms of what chilis they are looking for. This can not only affect your spicy profiles but also our next trend.
Traveling with Your Taste Buds
The world is getting smaller.
Between global communities sharing information online and travel becoming accessible again, consumers’ palettes are now more cosmopolitan than ever.
Considering that 2 in 3 consumers globally are open to trying new global-flavored cuisines, especially street food (50% of consumers), authentic international profiles have to be on the menu.
While flavors and dishes like masala, elotes (Mexican street corn), and BBQ are on the rise, regional cheeses are starting to stand out.
This is especially strong in areas like North America, where European cheeses are perceived as more nuanced and sophisticated. This clear demand for complex and authentic cheese flavors like Brie/Camembert, Burrata, or a more traditional Gouda are leading the way across multiple categories.
For consumers, as much as this is about the cheeses themselves, it’s also about elevating everyday staples like your basic mac and cheese.
Edlong has been hard at work developing the most authentic range of international cheese flavors possible. So, whether it’s a plant-based Brie that takes their taste buds to Paris or an Emmental-flavored snack that sends them straight to the Swiss Alps, these flavors can let them travel without even getting on a plane.
Our jetsetting flavors also have the benefit of helping you meet your desired label claims, which, as we’ll see in the next trend, are setting a new standard for consumers.
Moving From “Either or” to “Yes and”
It’s only Natural
With terms like “ultra-processed” entering the mainstream, consumers are increasingly demanding cleaner labels and more “natural” products.
What this actually means is still a source of uncertainty, with some research suggesting that consumers struggle to understand the difference between UPFs (ultra-processed foods) and other processed foods.
Still, with 57% of consumers believing that UPFs are bad for their health, they are pretty sure they don’t want them.
However, as much as consumers claim they want cleaner labels, and we should be striving to offer them, natural or healthier options do not always have the reputation of being…tasty.
This will be a strong driver for authentic and balanced profiles with tastes that reflect their natural-label claims.
Good Choice, Great Taste
To add to this confusion, while consumers want to avoid UPFs for their perceived negative health impacts, 74% of consumers in that same survey said they would be willing to try healthier UPFs if they could provide functional health benefits (better cardiovascular function, improved brain function, better sleep, better immunity, or increased energy.) Moreover, 67% of adults would be willing to pay more for UPFs that offer those benefits.
Dr. Koehler doesn’t see these as mutually exclusive but rather as an ongoing evolution in the nutritional and functional benefits foods can offer.
He believes that as technology continues to progress, consumers choosing between cleaner labels, improved nutrition, and great taste won’t be seen as an ‘either or’ choice but more of a “yes and”.
“I think in the past consumers would think I want it to be more natural or have this functionality so I will forgo taste, or I want something more indulgent, so I’ll give up on nutrition. With the innovations we are seeing, there is an increasing ability to provide cleaner, more functional products that also taste great. The goal is that going into next year and the years after, these options start to become the preferred option for consumers.”
Whether it’s plant-based, better for you, or a cleaner formulation of a legacy product, our team will help find a flavor solution that makes your product the natural choice for consumers.
About the Authors:
Anne Marie Butler, Global Director of Strategy and Innovation
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.
Dr. Bernd Koehler, Global VP of R&D
Bernd has more than 20 years of international leadership experience in the food and analytical services industries, including Mars-Wrigley and McCain Foods. He is known for his ability to align technical capabilities with business needs using scientific methods, data, and creativity. He also has a passion for blending people and technical expertise to fuel growth and profitability. Bernd received his Dr. rer. nat. degree in Food Chemistry from the Bavarian Julius-Maximilians-University in Wuerzburg, Germany.