As a leading food and beverage flavor manufacturer, T. Hasegawa USA is at the forefront of emerging trends, analyzing and forecasting consumer preferences in packaged foods, beverages and foodservice menus. The company routinely shares insights and analysis of these trends within the industry in the form of "Flavor Flash" reports.

This month, T. Hasegawa is spotlighting the latest flavor trends in desserts and confections with a full report available for download at its website.

Among the company’s key findings:

  • Simplicity and familiarity are key for desserts and confections – Standing out in a crowded marketplace means building on classics, not strictly focusing on indulgence and innovation. Mintel research reveals that 44 percent of consumers consider the best desserts are the simplest, indicating that simple does not mean basic or boring, but rather reliable and trusted, perhaps with an occasional twist for interest.
  • Dessert indulgence is about more than flavor alone – According to Mintel research, 48 percent of people say that texture is an important part of the overall experience of eating desserts. Brands looking to enhance indulgence can layer flavors and textures to help products stand out in a saturated market. More than 39 percent of consumers are interested in unique flavor pairings withing the dessert category.
  • Women are an ideal target market for desserts and confections – Not only are women the biggest consumers of most desserts and confections, they’re also the most open to innovation in new flavors. Reaching women in this category doesn’t require hitting every mark, but rather picking a few key areas and doing it really well to stand out. 
  • Both women and men have similar taste choices when it comes to desserts – In the last three months, chocolate candy, cookies, and ice cream emerged as the most consumed desserts for both men and women. There is a shared consensus regarding what constitutes an inventive dessert, ensuring that a particular innovation will not isolate either group.
  • Enhancing classic flavors is a safe way to balance familiarity with adventure – Nearly half of those surveyed in a Mintel study expressed interest in sampling desserts or confections with a caramelized or more pronounced take on familiar flavors.
  • Desserts remain an accessible luxury, as snacking continues to surge – Heightened consumer stress presents opportunities for desserts and confections to satisfy the desire for small indulgences. Despite economic challenges, including inflation and reports of reduced spending on non-essential items, most desserts and confections sustained their positive trajectory as affordable luxuries.
  • Social media trends are having a growing influence on dessert flavors – As younger Americans drink less alcohol, their interest in alcohol-inspired flavors is also falling, but other beverages such as cold coffee, latte and horchata are growing in dessert innovation. Inspiration for these flavors is increasingly shared in the form of ‘viral’ social media trends among younger consumers, who show a higher interest in innovative flavor profiles than other demographics.
  • Older consumers show less interest in “new” flavors – Older consumers seek uncomplicated, traditional dessert options, texture, and more. As individuals age, they may indulge less frequently, emphasizing the significance of quality when treating themselves.
  • Chili is a distinctive dessert flavor that gets greater attention from male consumers – As the trend of spicy-sweet flavors gains momentum in various categories, flavors like hot honey are making pathways into the dessert and confection domain. This shift may also encourage further exploration of international cuisines, many of which combine a hint of spiciness with sweetness.
  • Global pastry flavors like baklava, cobbler and churro are rising stars – These internationally inspired flavors fall into the “novel category” for now, but are poised for mainstream status in coming years.
  • Exotic fruit flavors like lychee, melon and passionfruit are gaining momentum in desserts and confections – These novel flavors are often paired with familiar favorites like mango or peach to balance a sense of familiarity and accessibility with adventure.

“Despite innovation that has leaned into the whimsical and even outrageous, desserts and confections wild popularity doesn’t necessarily require bells and whistles to excite consumers. Simple, well-executed products will always have a place, as do small tweaks to classic options that can maintain familiarity alongside innovation,” says Michele Scott, associate director, food and drink, Mintel.