Kerry Experts: Future Flavor Innovation to Come from Heirloom Recipes

Kerry, a global leader in taste and nutrition, is predicting that flavors inspired by heirloom recipes, across generations of tradition globally, will drive food and beverage innovation in 2023. The insight came out of the  company’s annual Taste and Nutrition Charts, an in-depth analysis of flavors, ingredients and nutrition trends. Over the years, Kerry was able to follow how the consumer’s preferences changed and can infer from these shifts what is shaping innovation in the coming year. 

Consumers will be motivated, in the coming year, by simplicity, sustainability and meeting their nutrition goals, but all falls under the all-powerful domination of taste. However simple, sustainable and nutritious a food is, it must first taste good. The experts also expect a rise in unconventional flavor pairings such as sweet profiles in savory foods including blackcurrant and maple syrup, with a strong interest in provenance, functional ingredients and flavors that tell a story.

Top insights for flavor innovation in 2023 include:

  • A resurgence in age old cooking practices and heirloom recipes as consumers place more importance on tradition and provenance. Ingredients such as nutritional yeast,  ginseng, kombucha, ashwagandha and ancient grains are finding a new home across snack and beverage applications.
  • Indulgence will take on a new meaning, with younger consumers in particular seeking mashups of familiar food and drinks that they grow up combined with emerging new flavor tonalities. This trend is augmented by the influence of social media channels such as TikTok and Instagram.
  • There will be a hunger for unconventional combinations of traditional ingredients and emerging taste profiles from other regions, such as Korean fried chicken, mojito beers, Japanese katsu, Greek tzatziki and a thirst for healthier beverages with functional ingredients such as ashwagandha, hibiscus and matcha.
  • In addition, consumers will be seeking value in 2023 as inflation hits home, but they will still gravitate towards products that allow permissible indulgence, still seeking simple flavors like cheddar cheese and caramel across nostalgic favorites like cookies and salty snacks.

In Europe, Kerry also sees cross-category inspiration with dessert and alcohol flavors inspiring various non-traditional applications such as ice cream, confectionery and sports nutrition.    

We asked Soumya Nair, Global Director of Consumer Research and Insights at Kerry, how these new trends apply to the baking industry.

What is the single most surprising trend you discovered this year, compared to the 2022 charts?

Seeking value has come to the fore consumers bring their purchase priorities and spending patterns to the table for discussion. We don’t anticipate a decrease in food and beverage spending, rather a reprioritization of the basket; with focus shifting to at-home solutions that meet their needs on nutrition, health, and sustainability, without compromising on taste or breaking the bank.  

We will see more deals, combination solutions, restaurant classics in at-home condiments, food hacks, and budget-friendly food and beverages into 2023.   

Taste remains the top driver when it comes to food and beverage choices and in the coming year consumers will be motivated by simplicity, sustainability and meeting their nutrition goals. Nonetheless, there will be a rise in unconventional flavor pairings, with a strong interest in provenance, functional ingredients and flavors that tell a story.

What do you think are the biggest influences on the rise or fall of certain flavors/ingredients?

Food offers an opportunity for ‘delicious escapism’. Food plays a specific role in complementing and often charging an emotional state of mind. After several years of changing behaviors, consumers are ready to break out and experience the world again. International tourism is picking up as consumers seek to indulge in revenge travel experiences, while others choose to travel through authentic experiences in their home ground.  

While comfort will underpin all food and beverage experience in the upcoming recessionary outlook, there will be desire for ‘mini-escapes’, wanting to break free. We forecast seven themes that will gain dominance in 2023. 

Mix and Mingle – Adventure and indulgence have taken on a new meaning in today’s uncertain economy. Consumers are seeking achievable adventures and playfulness via unlikely combinations, mashups of familiar food and drinks, fusion cuisines, and unconventional flavor pairings. 

Flavors and themes – mashups take on a new meaning – snack categories converge with salty snacks inspiring sweet snacks and vice versa. Cheese is a dominant flavor theme – particularly cheese such as cheddar and parmesan in sweet cookies and biscuits, ice-cream and cakes; strong limes and citrus in dairy and coffee beverages; sweet inclusions and nuts for pizza toppings, soup inspired burgers, savory flavors beyond tahini, such as black sesame, masala, curry in desserts, alcohol inspired desserts and more. 

Authentic cuisines, and elevated cuisine mashups set a food experience apart from the others. Middle Eastern, Indian, Jewish cuisine are on a hot streak this season.  New flavours and diverse foods are engaging the adventure-seeking consumer.  

Off the Reel – Social media and the emphasis on visual currency have influenced food and beverage trends at a rapid pace. New recipes, over the top food and beverage creations, dressed up with abundant inclusions and toppings, vibrant glitters and sprinkles that have an element of familiarity attract consumer curiosity. 

Eat with your eyes is truer this year than in the past. Visually vibrant food and beverages using ingredients such as beets, dragon fruit, matcha, sprinkles, luster dust, inspire not just beverages and cocktails, but also pasta and pies.  

Flavors and themes – Flavor hacking and ‘Reel’ inspired recipes – cloud bread, “healthy coke”, “dirty diet coke”, pilk, Re-emergence of familiar foods with a twist – pesto eggs, pasta chips, mini pancake cereal, salmon rice bowls, corn ribs, feta pasta bake, pink sauce, Carla Hall’s comeback sauce, other Influencer recipes and inspirations. 

Roots & Origins – Age old practices, ingredients and recipes are experiencing a revival. Origin stories and lost traditions are finding a new home amid the post-modernization of food coming full circle to authentic and wholesome experiences.  

Flavors and themes – Resurrecting ancient recipes – Bringing back ancient grains and ingredients – barley, spelt, farro, fonio, kamut, sorghum, teff, of-origin flavors and ingredients. 

Joy in Simple Things – In a significantly fast culture, the simplicity in familiar and comfort flavors continue to bring joy to consumers. While simple flavours thrive in a recessionary environment, nostalgia, comfort, and familiarity drive an everlasting appreciation for simple things.  

Flavors and themes – ice cream sandwiches made with waffles, cookies, Stroop waffles, make a re-emergence, birthday cake flavours grow, Biscoff tiramisu, sweet infused savoury snacks with icing, dessert themed cereals, etc. 

Maximizing Taste – With technological refinement in taste and texture, consumers expect healthy, nutritious, better for you, and sustainable alternatives to deliver on the same taste experience and flavor intensity, if not more than mainstream food and beverages. 

Flavors and themes – reduced sugar/sugar free products with full flavor and mouthfeel, plant-based alternatives that taste like the real deal, alcohol-free beverages with the full flavor and tingling experience, low cost but full flavour, etc. 

Hint of Health – Health is not secondary to taste anymore. In a relatively post pandemic world, rising consumer attention to health and diet has driven the need for functional ingredients and balanced nutrition. Flavors that convey a halo of health, from functionally forward flavors to flavors that subtly imply better health have greater responsibility. 

Flavors and themes –alcohol free protein-packed beers, multi-vitamin infused candies and cookies, beverages with nootropics and adaptogens such as Ashwagandha, probiotics for digestive health, and immune-boosting ingredients will continue to grow well into 2023.   

Purpose Driven Taste – The influence of sustainability is extending into consumer decision making of food and beverage purchases – choice of brands, flavors, ingredients, and retailers. Consumer taste preferences are guided by their sustainability consciousness. Sourcing, provenance, and root to tip utilization that supports circular sustainability and offsets food waste will be key.  

Flavors and themes – neglected veggies and fruits upcycled into snacks and jerky, upcycled berries and fruits in beverages,  

In bakery, which allows for a lot of flavor innovation, what should manufacturers keep an eye out for? What are the ingredients or trends that are worth testing / investing in?

Expanding flavors to include those that reflect a variety of cultures are still familiar (churro, dulce de leche, etc. compared to cinnamon and caramel). 

New taste experiences – different cultures/ fusion and flavor mash-ups – mixing different types of flavors/ products together, ie: cookie dough brownie.

Nostalgic flavor experiences – combining up and coming and emerging flavors with something mainstream and key (recognizable) flavors, to make new flavor profiles more consumer friendly and approachable. 

Manufacturers should look out for flavor stability across different applications (baked vs. fried vs. not cooked/heated) depending on shelf-life requirements.  

There is an obvious “globalization” of flavors: consumers expect, wherever they are, to have access to exotic aromas from across the globe. How can bakers sustainably source these novel ingredients to keep up with the trends?

Flavors, fruit crystals, coffee extracts and seasonings can create a huge impact – at Kerry we can offer different flavors like ube, passion fruit, etc. za’atar seasoning and tajin. Many exotic fresh fruits are not economical for manufactured baked goods – so crossovers are a great way to utilize local sustainably sourced ingredients (often dried or frozen fruits) and other manufactured inclusions (like our nuggets, sprinkles, etc) to include for visual appeal that harmonizes with the flavor.

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