A trend towards familiar and nostalgic tastes, which resurged during the pandemic, is anticipated to continue over the coming year as people seek comfort from their food and beverages. Consumers are gravitating toward comforting and familiar tastes, with classic desserts such as banana split, apple pie and custard are featured as flavors in different categories – including those in the “sweet” and “beverage” categories.
Europe and Russia trends
In Europe, restrictions on movement in 2020 have led to consumers traveling with their taste buds, the company said. This is reflected in the Taste Charts, with a rise in Korean, Indian, Thai, Greek and Spanish cuisine, as well as exotic notes like calamansi and acerola. Trends around health and wellbeing continue, while sustainable sourcing is also growing in importance.
“2020 has been a year like no other. During the lockdown period, consumers stayed connected online and continued to share the food that excited them, augmenting the need for playful textures and exciting flavors,” said Christina Matrozou, marketing manager for taste in Europe and Russia.
“Fermentation emerged across several product categories, with vinegar and pickled becoming a top trend and flavor note. The traditional citrus, vanilla, chocolate and BBQ flavors will remain relevant in 2021, but consumers expect these tastes through flavors that are more sustainable or have provenance claims. Meanwhile, botanicals such as lavender, turmeric and basil can meet consumer needs across food and beverage products that support the quest for holistic wellbeing.”
She added that Masala and miso are of strong interest in the savory category while Texas BBQ is popular for snacks. Exotic citrus tastes, such as yuzu and calamansi, have an excellent chance to an absolute hit in the sweet and beverage categories.
“Comforting flavors will continue to be strong in Europe as consumers are seeking indulgence in their favorite foods and beverages. Dessert-inspired flavours are emerging in the beverage category and alcohol notes, such as gin and whiskey, are rising in the sweet category,” Matrozou said.
“Mainstream tastes were important for European consumers in 2020 and they will continue to resonate in 2021 as people continue to seek the old-time classics we all know and love. Time-honored flavors such as chocolate and vanilla are popular in sweet and beverage category, as are mushroom and tomato in savory.
“These days, it is a question of how to deliver flavors in the most natural formulation possible while also taking care to sustainably manage the natural sources that form the basis of these tastes and flavors. It is vital to ensure that the natural sources can be replenished, and sustainability is a key priority for the Kerry taste program. Kerry’s sustainability program offers a wide range of many intriguing possibilities covering different profiles. Some exciting examples in the citrus tonality area include Citrus de Menton and Iranian Black Lemon. There are many other interesting possibilities to be found in the Kerry SimplyNature Citrus Collection for Europe & Russia,” she said.
The Taste Charts utilizes consumer purchase patterns, retail product performance, foodservice influences, and endorsements from the company’s internal culinary, beverage, and mixology experts to predict tastes for the coming year.
Kerry’s Trendspotter, a proprietary artificial intelligence that predicts food trends from global social media content, was used to provide additional perspective, inspiration, and validation of flavors and ingredients influencing the marketplace.
“The Taste Charts supports manufacturers by providing an expert overview of key, mainstream, up-and-coming and emerging flavors and ingredients across categories. This helps accelerate new product development times by making it easier to select flavors during the brainstorm and development phase. Kerry’s customers can harness these trends in a really exciting way, with plenty of room to innovate and create products that will resonate with consumers,” Matrozou said.
Matrozou said the pandemic has certainly affected consumer tastes and interests.
“The pandemic accelerated consumer trends as it created a feeling of urgency. An urgency to look after holistic wellness and the environment. At the same time, in an attempt to cope with the stress of the pandemic, consumers have been and are continuing to seek ways to comfort and indulge themselves while they cope,” she said.
As to whether these are changes that will continue after the end of the pandemic – whenever that may be – she said the changes arising from the pandemic may well be permanent.
“However, the level of urgency will settle down. The trending approach towards a sustainable future and sustainable nutrition is here to stay as consumers continue to demonstrate an increased interest in the inherent wellness benefits of products incorporating simple and recognizable natural, organic, non-GMO, and free-from ingredients.”