The May “Flavor Flash” report from T. Hasegawa USA focuses on latest emerging flavor trends in the salty snacks category.

As a food and beverage flavor company, T. Hasegawa stays ahead of emerging trends to help analyze the latest in what consumers are looking for in packaged foods, beverages, and foodservice. 

The full report can be read here.

Key findings include:

  • Familiarity drives flavor trial. Consumers are most likely to have a positive experience with flavors that have some grounding in the familiar, such as a flavor from another food or combination with something they already tried. For more risk-averse consumers, this can feel comforting, while more adventurous consumers can see novelty in a familiar flavor in a surprising format. 
  • Flavor is the common ground between BFY and indulgence. Despite increased interest in healthy and functional ingredients in snacks, this does not have to be mutually exclusive with indulgence. A recent Mintel survey indicated that 37% of consumers feel that unique flavors make health snacks feel more indulgent. 
  • Social media and viral trends are influencing flavor innovation. Especially for more extreme flavors, the influence of social media and viral trends is having a major effect on new product innovation. Snack brands can look online to foster their boldest and most expansive flavor ideas, and even tap into the opportunity for online retail channels. 
  • Consumers are willing to take risks with snack flavors. More than 42% of consumers in a recent Mintel survey said they are eating more salty snacks than last year and more than a third said they are trying new/exciting flavors. The excitement of flavor drives trial in the snack category, so brands can use unique flavors to capture both the BFY and indulgent-minded consumer. 
  • The surprising growth of dill pickle flavor in the snack category. Quirky, fun, yet familiar – dill pickle is seeing strong interest among consumers from all generations. The flavor is bold enough to entice younger consumers while still being recognizable enough to not deter traditionally less-adventurous older consumers. Dill pickle flavor also pairs well with trending cooling ranch and spicy flavors, giving it extra versatility.
  • Consumers are seeking clear flavor and ingredient messaging in premium snacks. Naturally flavored and recognizable ingredients signal premium in the snack category.  More than 60% of consumers in a recent Mintel survey cited “fruit” as an ingredient that would make a snack seem healthy, along with an average of 40-50% for “seeds” and “oats,” across both male and female consumers. 
  • Mexican-inspired foods like elotes and churros are rapidly growing as sweet flavors within the salty snack category. New product introductions featuring churro flavor have grown by more than 400% since 2020.
  • The undeniable popularity of heat. In a competitive environment where brands are fighting for their share of occasions, many are using the intrigue of trending pepper varietals to create unique spicy taste experiences once dominated by jalapeno or habanero.