Each year, food ingredient company Kerry releases an annual report for key food and beverage markets that takes data from product launches and insight from Kerry’s network of chefs, baristas, nutritionists, and marketers to determine the flavor trends that have emerged in recent years. For this year’s US flavor chart, Kerry spotlighted sriracha and other flavors that are popping up more in food and beverage launches.
“We have to bring foods and beverages [to] consumers [that] excite them - that they want. Food and beverages that they want to take pictures of; that they want to tell their friends about. That's why the taste charts are so important ... To understand what are the trends, what's going to excite consumers around the world, [and] what's going to be the next big trend from Asia that you're going to see in your local store,” John Savage, Global CEO of Taste at Kerry, said during a media briefing.
Showing what’s possible with sriracha
Over the last several decades, sriracha has become more than just a condiment for Asian cuisine, appearing in many food and beverage launches, Soumya Nair, global insights and consumer research director, explained in a media briefing about the report. When it comes to sriracha-flavored product launches, the space has grown 45% between 2007 and 2021, according to Innova research cited in the Kerry charts.
"In about 2011, sriracha really blew up across the world, not just as a condiment, but it started getting used in foodservice menus [and] ... experiential chefs were trying out and being creative with it.”
Sriracha flavors are appearing in products like popcorns, chicken tenders, cocktail sauce, and drinking vinegars, Nair said. Not only is sriracha popping up in more products, but it’s also paired with other flavors like pineapple and horseradish, she added.
"I'm not saying sriracha is the flavor of the year; it's an example that we are trying to pull up to say, 'Look at how a single flavor has so [much room] to grow.'"
Flavors to watch: guava, sesame, and dulce de leche
Looking at flavors that might become the next sriracha, Patricio R. Lozano, director of taste creation for North America for Kerry; Isabelle Lesschaeve, global head of sensory science for Kerry; and Nair each highlighted in the report a specific flavor that they noticed growing in the US market.
Ticking the box on "comfort, nostalgia, authenticity, adventure, and even nutrition," sesame is an emerging flavor in the savory and sweet category in several countries and regions, Nair said. Not only can sesame be used to add a savory twist to sweet treats like brownies, but black sesame can also be used as a coating for breads, cakes, and chicken tenders, she added.
Also, in the sweet category, Lesschaeve highlighted dulce de leche as a flavor to watch. While the flavor is popping up in ice cream, sweets, and yogurts, "it will be interesting to see how else it is used, such as by culinary teams that want to add complexity to a dish," she added.
Lastly, Lozano shared a favorite flavor from his childhood in South America, guava, which has been gaining ground in the US beverage and sweet markets. "As a flavorist, recreating the taste experience of guava is about balancing the fruity, fleshy, pear-like, and floral components with some sulfur and sweet and creamy notes," he added.
What’s sweet in sweet treats
The Kerry Taste & Nutrition reports not only highlights specific flavors, but it looks more broadly at product categories, including sweets, salty snacks, water and cold beverages, dairy and hot beverages, and they also provide charts on trending cuisines and nutritional claims that are appearing in the food and beverage industry. Additionally, the reports are available for several key regions/geographies, including Canada, Europe, Brazil, Mexico, Asia Pacific, Central America and Caribbean Region, Australia, and several other regions.
In sweets, Kerry identifies the following trends:
- Mainstream (top 10 flavors from the past five years): Almond, blueberry, caramel, coconut, cinnamon, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry, and vanilla
- Key (top 15 flavors from the past five years): Banana, birthday cake, cherry, cocoa, cookies and cream, fudge, hazelnut, honey, lemon, maple, mint, orange, peppermint, pumpkin/pumpkin spice, and salted
- Up & coming (20 fastest growing from the past three years): Bacon, brownie, brown sugar, butterscotch, cappuccino, cheesecake, cookie dough, French vanilla, grape, gingerbread, lime, Madagascar vanilla, marshmallow, passion fruit, pineapple, raspberry, sea salt, s'mores, strawberry & cream, and white chocolate
- Emerging (the 20 fastest growing flavors in the last year): Blackberry, black cherry, buttermilk, churro, cream cheese, dulce de leche, fig, green apple, key lime pie, lemonade, pecan nut, nougat, macadamia nut, matcha tea, pomegranate, tangerine, toffee, truffle chocolate, watermelon, and wildberry
While Kerry reported on sweet trends for 2023, the company recently announced that it’ll be divesting its sweet business to streamline its portfolio ingredients, which will use the proceeds to bolster its Taste & Nutrition business and for general corporate purposes.