2020 Flavor Forecast
Flavorists, chefs, and trendspotters predict the leading flavor trends that consumers will seek out in the coming year on their quest for global taste experiences and healthier foods and beverages.
Global consumers have endless choice and omnichannel access when it comes to food and beverage consumer packaged goods (CPGs), and, according to Nielsen, only 8% of consumers across the globe consider themselves firm loyalists to the products they use. Given this, and the fact that almost half (42%) of global consumers say that they “love to try new things,” how do food and beverage manufacturers succeed in meeting consumer demand (Nielsen 2019)?
According to experts in the industry, much of the demand for new and exciting flavors comes from younger generations. Technomic’s 2019 Flavor Consumer Trend Report found that 40% of those aged 18–34 are visiting a wider variety of restaurants now than two years ago to find new or unique flavors. In fact, 80% of all survey respondents said that they either “actively seek out flavors to try on a regular basis” or “like trying new flavors from time to time” (Technomic 2019).
So, what flavors are consumers searching for today and what will they desire in the year to come? With insight from more than 35 flavor companies, chefs, trendspotters, and market research companies, this article presents four flavor trends—florals; earthy; complex heat; and tangy, tart, and sour— to watch in 2020 and details the drivers pushing each flavor toward mass market appeal.
Releases of floral-flavored products span the spectrum, with snacks, beverages, and bakery leading the way. The idea of health is moving away from the traditional reductionist approach—that divides the body, mind, and environment into separate parts and focuses on triaging symptoms—to an integrative approach focused on understanding how the body, mind, and environment work together to achieve maximum performance and function.
Many floral ingredients offer health benefits while also meeting consumers’ expectations for natural and clean label products. In addition to their health benefits and ties with global cuisines, florals by their very nature can bring a beautiful visual element to foods and beverages. “We live in an Insta-world where consumers eat with their eyes first. The taste of products is what makes the consumer come back for the product, but the visuals play an important role in persuading them to pick up that product,” says Keera Perumbala, marketing manager, Sensient Flavors. Product developers should explore how to play up floral flavors and visual appeal.
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