T. Hasegawa USA, a food and beverage flavor company, recently released a report on emerging flavor trends, which predict upcoming changes in what consumers are looking for in packaged foods, beverages, and foodservice.

Key findings include:

  1. Tropical and international fruit flavors are booming—particularly in confections and desserts, where they make adventurous flavors more approachable. Fruit flavors popular in Asian and Latin cuisines are especially positioned well for growth as consumers become more experienced with the variety of flavors in these cuisines overall.
  2. Pandemic-induced indulgence will slow, pushing consumers toward lighter, naturally-sweetened treats. Nearly seven in 10 consumers are doing something to control sugar in their diet. As a result, fruit flavors are growing in popularity since they are considered healthier, BFY options. Over 41 percent of consumers would like to see more desserts that are naturally sweetened (e.g. fruit, honey).  
  3. Frozen treats found a sweet spot during the pandemic, as consumers spent most of their time at home, with close access to their freezers, ice cream and frozen novelties were able to solidify their place in consumer routines while shelf-stable impulse sweets like candy and snack bars stalled or decreased in 2020.
  4. Nostalgic cross-category collaborations are growing within the dessert and confection category. Nostalgia is a powerful driver in sweet categories and 34 percent of consumers in a recent Mintel survey expressed interest in dessert and candy mashups, especially those which leverage the positive associations of nostalgic flavors.
  5. Matcha is one of the fastest growing dessert and confection flavors. The rich umami flavor of Matcha that has been popular in Asian cuisine for ages has grown in the U.S. by 144 percent in CPG dessert and confection launches from 2016 to 2020, according to Mintel. Much of this growth is driven by younger consumers—according to Mintel’s GNPD, 54 percent of Millennials and 51 percent of Gen Z have either tried and liked Matcha, or would try the flavor in the future. 

Click here to view the full Flavor Flash report.