Global flavor fusion dominates drink trends at IFT

By Beth Newhart contact

- Last updated on GMT

Beverage producers are working with international spices more because of their health benefits and function, rather than taste. Pic: Getty/oleksajewicz
Beverage producers are working with international spices more because of their health benefits and function, rather than taste. Pic: Getty/oleksajewicz

Related tags: Ift, IFT show, Ingredients

More consumers are prioritizing authentic, local food and drink when they travel, and are keen to experience global flavors at home as well. At IFT 2019, international fusion was on display with unique ingredient innovations.

US food and drink brands are taking notice of consumers’ affinity for global flavors, a trend that’s been gaining steam over the last few years. According to data from Mintel, 57% of US travelers cite local dining as an important factor to their vacation experience, and 39% are interested in trying different international street foods.

And as they bring their new global tastes home with them, food and beverage producers are working to accommodate and incorporate to their standards. Mintel says 53% of US consumers who eat international foods look for dishes made with authentic ingredients.

One-quarter reported that they want to know which region within a country a recipe comes from, and just 19% said they prefer the Americanized versions of international foods over the authentic version.

But in the beverage category, developers are working with international spices more because of their health benefits and function, rather than their taste, according to spices and seasonings company Asenzya.

At IFT, Asenzya spoke to BeverageDaily and said turmeric is one of the most relevant examples. Turmeric used in beverages like lattes are increasingly popular because consumers like the look of the spice’s bright gold color as well as its anti-inflammatory properties.

Functional, global flavors are a hit in particular with young consumers, and Asenzya said that millennials and Gen Z are “growing up and rewriting the rules for the quick service industry by trying more experimental flavors.”

Making an easy introduction

Dax Schaefer, Asenzya’s executive chef, confirmed to BeverageDaily that the biggest trend he has seen lately has been global fusion. He pointed to the evolution of Mexican food over the last 15-20 years, and its growth in authenticity and quality in the US.

“Because we’re so familiar with the Mexican cuisine, we’re taking a deeper dive. But what you’re seeing with the rest of the world is that we’re still a little timid. So we need that connection,”​ he said.

Flavors from the Middle East are also big in the US, especially in sauces, spreads and condiments. And as food and drink trends evolve in other countries, the US is using this for inspiration.

For example, variations of green tea besides matcha - like sencha - are cropping up in different Japanese regions: and are now finding their way into products in the US. Meanwhile, teas and other beverages are drawing on flavors and ingredients from India that focus heavily on adaptogens, botanicals and plant-based ingredients that help relieve stress.

A popularity of local whiskey in Japan and Israel make them spots to watch for drink trends, with the potential of those whiskey styles migrating to US bar menus. 

But even though US consumers are responding well to more international drinks and dishes, Mintel recommends introducing them by using a familiar base. It found that 30% of US consumers who eat international food prefer to try international flavors in familiar formats, like chips, sauces, seasonings and marinades.

Explaining a foreign product on the label and making it easier with pre-made meals and blends can also encourage a customer who may be hesitant to try a new flavor.

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