Consumers will seek out tastes that offer novelty, over-the-top indulgence and targeted health benefits in the year ahead, according to Kerry’s 2022 Global Taste Charts.
The taste and nutrition company scanned product launch activity through restaurant menu penetration, research reports and its own proprietary internal insights engine, which peers into social media influencer content, to predict the top new flavors for the coming year. It found trends that were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic are developing further and becoming more sophisticated, with consumers seeking new tastes paired with familiar formats and flavors.
The trend could lead to interesting combinations, like beer blended with kombucha and sage, or chocolate milkshakes with lavender and chilies. Kerry predicted barbecue flavors will continue to grow in salty snacks as consumers seek nostalgic yet experiential flavors.
“This year we will see an increased hunger for new experiences and thrilling new flavors,” says Soumya Nair, global consumer research and insights director at Kerry. “We will 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.”
Cravings for more novel flavors — such as Nashville Hot, “everything bagel” seasoning and chili crisp — are being led by consumers seeking surprise and fun from their food and beverages, according to Kerry. Restrictions around movement over the past two years also led consumers to “travel the world” through their tastebuds, with Furikake (a Japanese condiment made with dried fish, sesame seeds and seaweed) and Sambal (an Indonesian chili sauce) trending in meals and entrees.
Filipino, Brazilian, Moroccan, Peruvian, Argentinian, Ethiopian and South African foods were among the fastest-growing global cuisines last year, according to Kerry’s Taste Charts.
“In the current travel-deprived marketplace, people want to travel through their tastebuds — with authentic original Asian and Indian flavors set to make a bold comeback in emerging foods and drinks,” Nair says.
Health and sustainability
Taste is leading the way when it comes to the growing focus on gut health, immune support and emotional well-being. Turmeric saw a 129% increase in use on restaurant menus in 2021 versus four years ago. Other tastes that signal better-for-you attributes, like collagen and green coffee extract, are showing up in a wide range of applications.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected consumers on a deeply emotional level, changing priorities and perceptions about health and wellness,” Nair says. “Emerging flavors and ingredients paint a picture of the proactive consumer, looking for functionally-forward food and beverages that help them achieve their overall health and wellness goals.”
Sustainability is another important driver as more consumers seek out food and beverage products that have a positive impact on the planet as well as on their own personal health and well-being. Nearly half (49%) of global consumers now consider sustainability when purchasing food and beverage products, according to research from Kerry.
“Consumers are looking for products with consumer-friendly ingredients, clean label claims and locally and ethically sourced ingredients,” Nair says. “In the charts, we see this demand through ingredients such as botanicals and spices ethically sourced from their country of origin (such as cloves, cardamom, tamarind, black pepper, lavender, etc.). We summarize this psychological behavior shift as ‘Provenance with a conscience.’ This all contributes to the flavor trends we see today and will see tomorrow, which point towards purposeful and authentic taste experiences.”