Using formal and grassroots market research tactics, industry experts at Sensient Flavors LLC, Hoffman Estates, IL, have identified four primary consumer interests—hybrid flavors, regional inspiration, creative sourcing and savory updates—that inform eight up-and-coming flavor trends for 2015.
Hybrid flavors, or unconventional flavor pairings, will remain popular through the year ahead. Specifically, Sensient predicts the following two flavors will be on the rise:
• Smoked Chantilly. Food menus continue to feature smoked, roasted, toasted and burnt flavors. Pairing this profile with vanilla- or brandy-infused Chantilly cream evokes a new level of interest by combining two unexpected, but harmonious, flavors.
• Maple Mirch (Mirchi). The popularity of Indian cuisine is growing as consumers learn the depth and breadth of this particularly rich heritage. Mirch, Hindi for chili pepper, brings spice and heat from India and combines it with maple, a fan favorite in the Western world. This East-meets-West hybrid pairs the familiar sweetness with the exotic Indian flavor.
According to Sensient Flavors, consumers are also becoming more curious about regionally inspired flavors as they look to food as a gateway to the world’s cultures. In 2015, regional flavor trends take their cues from the equator:
• African blue basil. A perennial basil, this variety is a sterile hybrid of two breeds that yields an unexpected flavor with anise undertones.
• Falernum. Falernum is a sweet syrup boasting hints of almond, ginger, cloves, lime, vanilla and allspice. It’s often paired with rum in Caribbean and tropical drinks, but it’s popping up in nonalcoholic beverages like coconut water and is expected to hit the food market in coming years.
Long winters and droughts are forcing manufacturers to consider alternative food sources and become more conscious of sustainable resources. Specifically, desert plants are rising in popularity:
• Desert wildflowers. Though polarizing, floral flavors are on the rise for 2015, and the mild flavor of the desert wildflower makes it a popular pick that can be enjoyed by all.
• Cascara tea. Commonly consumed in Bolivia (where it’s called Sultana), cascara tea is made from the dried berries of the coffee plant and is often mixed with cinnamon.
Category-blurring flavor trends like “Savory 2.0” are firing on all cylinders. As consumers take inventory of their pantries, savory updates on traditionally sweet applications are proving to be viable alternatives as long term staples. Whether it is sugar replaced with salt or repurposing more familiar flavors, this trend will include:
• ‘Everything bagel’ spice blend. A longtime favorite, this versatile spice blend contains poppy seed, kosher salt, sweet onion sugar, sesame seed, garlic, onion and fennel.
• Salted satsuma. The perfect balance of sweet and savory, the addition of salt elevates this summertime favorite. Satsuma, a Japanese orange varietal, gained popularity in New Orleans in recent years. It is another citrus expected to appear in flavor undertones in 2015.
The consumer insights were developed using Sensient’s “Trends to Taste” program, a proprietary predictive process that filters trends from the broad, consumer, macro level down to finished concepts that best demonstrate each flavor profile.
“The 2015 Trends to Taste program centers around one consistent theme: ethnic exploration through flavors,” says Teresa Olah, marketing director, Sensient Flavors. “Consumers are seeking adventure in their food and see their choices as an expression of themselves. They are enjoying the ability to sample other cultures through food.”