Trends that were accelerated by the Covid pandemic have developed and will become more sophisticated this year, with consumers seeking new tastes paired with familiar formats and flavors – leading to interesting combinations such as beer blended with kombucha and sage or chocolate milkshakes with lavender, the company said.
The insights are contained in Kerry’s Global Taste Charts for 2022, which uncovers the flavors and ingredients set to inspire food and beverage innovators in the coming year. Kerry uses a range of sources to create the charts and provide an in-depth analysis of taste trends.
These range from scanning product launch activity, restaurant and café menu penetration, to the commissioning of research reports. In addition, Kerry’s proprietary internal insight engines, such as Trendspotter, look at social media influencer content, as well as the company’s own chefs, baristas and mixologists.
Taste trends for 2022
A desire for authentic flavors is driven by an interest in long-term wellness and overall health following the Covid-19 pandemic, while cravings for more novel flavors such as numerous varieties of chocolate/cocoa, cheese, smoke and named chilli such as ghost pepper and jalapeno are being led by consumers seeking surprise and fun from their food and beverages. In the US, these trends include Nashville Hot, “everything bagel” seasoning and chili crisp. Restrictions around movement have also led to consumers travelling the world through food, which is highlighted in Kerry’s new cuisine chart and underlined by cuisine-specific entries across savory charts including Mexican, Thai and Korean. For example, in the US, Furikake and Sambal have been trending in meals and entrées. Furikake alone has grown by 103% on restaurant menus versus four years ago (as reported by Datassential Menu Trends 2021).
Indulgence and comfort are also important to consumers and can be invoked with traditional flavors like chocolate and sweet flavors, or from visiting a foodservice chain that was closed during the pandemic. Alcohol and dessert-inspired flavors are emerging across sweet and beverage charts, driven by limited time offers and seasonal releases. Across the US, tastes such as tahini, alcohol and cocktail-inspired (whiskey, Kahlua), and saffron are emerging across the sweet food and treat spectrum. Tahini alone has grown by 15.3% on restaurant menus versus four years ago (Datassential Menu Trends 2021).
Meanwhile, with an increasing focus on gut health, immune support and emotional wellbeing, consumers are looking for better-for-you food and beverages that make them feel like they are taking an active role in their future health – but also taste good. This is evident through the emergence of botanical, citrus and fermented flavors throughout the charts. In the US, turmeric has seen a 129% increase in use on restaurant menus versus four years ago (Datassential Menu Trends 2021).
Soumya Nair, global consumer research and insights director at Kerry, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected consumers on a deeply emotional level, changing consumers priorities and perceptions about health and wellness. This has certainly impacted their overall food and beverage preferences, challenging innovators to create new tastes that will drive their new product development and renovation successes.
“Emerging flavors and ingredients paint a picture of the proactive consumer, looking for functionally forward food and beverages that aid in their overall health and wellness goals. Additionally, in the current travel-deprived marketplace, travelling through the tastebuds has significantly grown - with Asian and Latin American flavors set to make a bold comeback in emerging foods and drinks. We see consumers seeking an element of surprise from traditional formats, as well as comfort - brands can appeal to this desire for novelty by pairing emerging and up-and-coming flavors with old classics.”
Sustainability is another important driver and consumers are now seeking ingredients that are responsibly sourced and back by provenance. Recent research by Kerry found that globally 49% of consumers are now considering sustainability when buying food and beverages.
“Consumers are also actively seeking out sustainable food and beverage products that have a significantly positive impact on the planet as well as on their personal health and wellbeing, looking for products with consumer-friendly ingredients, clean label claims and locally sourced ingredients. In the charts, we see this demand through ingredients demonstrating greater provenance, such as botanicals and spices ethically sourced from their country of origin. We have also started to see some ingredients associated with plant-based foods having a dual role in taste. This is all contributing to the flavour trends we are seeing today, which are pointing towards authentic taste experiences,” Nair concluded.