Smaller sizes of unique cakes and pastries are opening bigger doors for increased sales in the cake business. Heart-shaped cakes are a key trend and typically are decorated in pastel colors like pink, purple, yellow, green or blue. These creative cakes are often topped off with bright red cherries that give a really vintage look and feel.

“We make heart-shaped cakes and other creative shapes throughout the year,” explains Victor Antonio, the main cake baker at Mia Ranchito in Ocoee, Florida. “We sell out of cakes every weekend.”

Acapulco Tropical y Mas emphasizes flavorful fillings in its cakes and cupcakes, which are available in a wide variety of flavors including strawberry, blueberry, and banana.

“Every store has its own unique creations, and this store has a lot of cakes and pastries with fillings,” shares Ana Leyva of Acapulco Tropical y Mas in Ellenton, Florida. “Here, we have more customers who are American and Caribbean.”

Complex ingredients

Maeve Webster, president of Menu Matters, said one example of a key emerging trend could be the use of richer, more complex flours like buckwheat and heritage grains.

Why? Because they can be used in desserts to create “a more savory, but still approachable, experience,” Webster said.

Other flavors to keep an eye on in 2024, Webster said, include pistachios in applications like marzipan, dusts and sauces; and tallow, lard and other meat-based fats in “unexpected applications.”

New flavors will continue to find their way into Italian foods in 2024, said Mike Kostyo, Menu Matters’ vice president.

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On the bakery side, look for Mexican flavors to exert a greater influence in 2024, Kostyo said.

Conchas, churros, and tres leches cakes are likely to be big.

Another big ethnic food influence on bakery will continue to gain steam this year, as well, he added.

“Thinking longer-term, Asian flavors and aesthetic influences in classic baked goods are growing in independent bakeries and high-end restaurants so retailers may want to start thinking about how to evolve baked goods in the next three years.”

New flavors

With the growth of brands like Crumbl cookies, in-store bakeries should also lean into their cookie offerings, with unique, ever-changing flavors and attractive presentations, Kostyo said.

But as is true for all perimeter departments, value must be top-of-mind.

“Obviously value is the most important consideration to consumers, so every brand needs to consider their value proposition in 2024,” Kostyo said. “Younger consumers continue to act differently from their more senior counterparts when it comes to perimeter purchasing, so supermarkets will continue to need to experiment with technology, marketing, and flavors and formats to attract them and turn them into loyal users.”

Among the questions in-store departments must keep in mind: Are the flavors and ingredients that these younger consumers expect showcased, whether that’s Mexican and Asian flavors, clean-label foods, bold and spicy flavors or social media-worthy foods?


Expect stronger efforts to create more differentiation in categories in which there typically hasn’t been much, Webster said. 

“Think about how many apples there are available but not so with extremely familiar and popular categories such as watermelon and potatoes. To make these fresh and intriguing, we’re going to see more concentrated efforts here.”

Inflation has certainly had an influence on shopper behavior, Webster said, but it’s been somewhat counter-intuitive with consumers no longer willing to compromise on categories they believe are truly important to them at the significant expense of less important categories.

Wellness trend

The movement toward wellness and sustainability has propelled botanical ingredients to the forefront as the latest global flavor trend. According to Innova Market Insights, 53% of consumers globally say, “food that has botanical flavors is often good for my health,” reflecting rising consumer interest in natural ingredients and products with perceived health benefits. Derived from flowers, plants, herbs, and fruits, these flavors offer consumers an elevated taste experience, adding a layer of depth and sophistication to products.

Florals: 1 in 3 global consumers have looked for more floral flavors in food and beverage categories over the past year, according to Innova Market Insights. Among botanical segments, floral flavors such as peach blossom, jasmine, rose, and honeysuckle witnessed the most rapid growth at 8.4% across global product launches. Caribou and Starbucks placed a spotlight on lavender in their spring menus, including items like the Honey Lavender Espresso Shaker and Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha, respectively.

Herbs & Spices: Herb and spice flavors have seen a 6.4% increase in new global food and beverage launches over the past five years. While commonly found in sauces, seasonings, and snacks, these botanical flavors are gaining traction in supplements, driven by their perceived health benefits. Ginger, known for aiding digestion and relieving nausea, is featured in Centrum’s Morning Sickness Relief Gummies and Kuli Kuli’s Gut Bliss Superfood Blend.

Adaptogens: Adaptogenic botanicals, including herbs, roots, and mushrooms, are natural ingredients believed to help the body cope with stress and restore balance. "Adaptogen" searches within food and beverage social discussions have surged 12.72% over the past year, primarily driven by consumers seeking wellness solutions. Balanced Tiger, Elemental Superfood, and Odyssey Elixir spotlighted functional mushrooms reishi, chaga, lion’s mane, and cordyceps in their latest launches.

Innovative solutions

AdobeStock_RainbowCakeDrip.jpgSource: Svetlana Kolpakova -

Flavorchem developed “Bloom” to provide innovative flavor solutions to customers. The collection features signature flavors that can be optimized for a variety of food and drink applications: Cranberry Ginger, Grapefruit Bergamot, Lychee Rose, Peach Lavender, Pear Elderflower and Watermelon Mint. All flavors are Kosher, Non-GM, Allergen-Free, Vegan/Vegetarian, Prop 65 Free, and can be labeled as “natural” on an ingredient statement.

Flavorchem creates flavor, ingredient and color solutions including a wide selection of organic certified flavors and extracts. Established in 1971, it is a privately held business whose customers include first-class brands well recognized throughout the world

“Menu refreshes,” “plant powered,” and “her wellness” are among some of the top food and beverage trends for 2024, according to flavor and ingredient supplier Flavorchem.

Food and beverage companies have been harnessing plant-based products in recent years to provide consumers with better-for-you alternatives. Ingredients like buckwheat, fungi, hemp, and seaweed are predicted to become more widely used in plant-based product launches in 2024. Vegetables also may trend in formulations as more consumers consider vegan options and opt for products with ingredient lists they consider to be cleaner.

Childhood classics, mood food, dessert-inspired, aging-up nostalgia may play a driving factor in 2024 trends in “new nostalgia.” Consumers’ cravings for nostalgic foods will significantly drive flavor innovation and new product development in the years ahead, Flavorchem said. 

Consumers also may experience a “menu refresh” in 2024. The top menu trends predicted for 2024 will offer consumers novel taste experiences, allowing exploration of new dishes, ingredients and flavors from global comfort, energy drinks, chicken wings and social media playing a part to showcase food and beverages, Flavorchem said.


Consumers are connecting with flavor more casually. New flavor experimentation is becoming part of the daily routine for most consumers, and that experimentation is taking place at home and QSR outlets just as frequently as traditional sit-down restaurants. Consumers no longer look at new flavors as a rare treat, it’s part of everyday life.

Fruity and floral flavors are ripe for versatility occasions – across all categories. Flavors such as Dragon Fruit, Lavender, Yuzu and Guava are particularly driving consumer interest in restaurant menus, snacks, desserts and beverages. Lavender in particular is exploding in popularity, with a 254 percent increase in presence on foodservice menus, from 2020 to 2023.    

In-person is still the primary pathway for new taste experiences. Even in an era marked by increased online grocery shopping, more than 72 percent of consumers in a recent Mintel survey cited in-person grocery retailers as the primary source of new flavor information.

Gen-Z is leading a new flavor trail, especially at fast-food chains. These consumers are expanding their taste horizons and shaping flavor trends. The immense influence of social media plays a significant role in driving curiosity and interest in new flavors, sparking increased dining out among Gen Z consumers.

Social media is the wellspring of inspiration for new flavors. The heightened online presence of younger consumers and their eagerness to try new tastes is leading to a rapid evolution of flavor trends. 84 percent of consumers who actively seek out new flavors cited social media as their primary information source, in a recent Mintel poll. 59 percent of consumers who learn about new flavors on TikTok are trying new flavors at fast food restaurants.

More than a third of U.S. consumers are trying more flavors than last year. The rise of information, innovation and opportunities has transformed the landscape of taste, making experimentation more accessible than ever.

Customizable menus help encourage consumers to try new flavors and ingredients. In a recent Mintel survey, more than 37 percent of consumers cited customizable menus as the primary driver of trying new flavors, ahead of “health trends” (36 percent) and even “enjoyment” (32 percent). Customizable menus allow customers to dabble without much risk, such as offering a wide array of sauces or flavor add-ins.

Unexpected flavor pairings are driving flavor trial. The recent surge in consumer interest for hot honey and other “sweet heat” options is a perfect example of how disparate flavors can blend to transcend traditional occasions and spark possibilities for innovation.

Global flavors – and Asian foods in particular – continue to grow in mainstream North American cuisine. These flavors have an increasing presence in both chain restaurant offerings and retail product lines. This trend showcases the overlapping lifecycle stages across different dining occasions.

Snacking occasions can reinvigorate cooking staples. Ingredients like rosemary and basil can offer a distinctive, yet accessible taste and bridge the gap between traditional meals and the wide array of snacking opportunities. This is a particularly big opportunity for Millennials, with more than 47 percent of these consumers reporting an increased consumption of salty snacks compared to last year.