Interest in nostalgic, indulgent flavors rise to balance functional ingredients’ off-notes, Kerry predicts

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty / AlexRaths
Source: Getty / AlexRaths

Related tags Kerry Flavors Functional food

Consumers may want healthier, better-for-them products, but that doesn’t mean they want food or beverages that taste healthier and better-for-them, which is why the taste and nutrition company Kerry predicts that nostalgic, indulgent flavors will become more popular in the coming year.

According to Kerry’s recently released 2020 taste charts, “2020 will bring a resurgence of nostalgia and indulgence across all categories,”​ driven by a need to complement – and in some cases mask – the flavors of increasingly popular functional ingredients.

Kerry notes that among the 20 fastest growing flavors of the last year, nostalgic and indulgent flavors appear prominently, including in Kerry’s 2020 Sweet taste chart flavors such as graham cracker, breakfast cereal and brown butter. In the company’s salty snack chart, the comforting and decadent flavors peanut butter, salted caramel, pumpkin spice and salted egg appear in the emerging category. While brown butter, bacon, dulce de leche, and Irish cream appear in the emerging category for beverages.

Among the 20 fastest growing flavors in the past three years, which Kerry categorizes as “up and coming,” indulgent and nostalgic flavors across categories include cotton candy, brown sugar, cookies & cream, fudge, dark chocolate, molasses, butterscotch, praline nuts, and buttered rum.

These flavors are emerging at the same time that consumer interest is increasing in functional ingredients, which may offer health benefits but come with unfamiliar, bitter or otherwise undesirable flavor notes, according to the US Taste Charts.

For example, among the rising functional ingredients Kerry lists in its 2020 Taste Charts, are moringa, algae, turmeric, CBD, chlorella and maca, which might be “earthier,” more bitter or vegetal than most mainstream consumers prefer.

Kerry can help mask off-notes from functional and nutritional ingredients, including these as well as proteins, minerals, vitamins and sweeteners with its TasteSense Masking technology, which manufacturers can declare as ‘flavoring’ or ‘natural flavoring’ on package labels.

Other functional ingredients that Kerry predicts will rise in 2020 include MCT, kombucha, carob, chicory, apple cider vinegar, ashwagnada, collagen, acai and ginger.

Bold, international flavors are still hot

Rising consumer interest in nostalgic flavors also could be a counter-balancing reaction to the mounting popularity of authentic multicultural flavors, spices and dishes.

“Consumers are expecting hyper-authenticity with shock-and-talk-worthy taste experiences. The appeal of mainstream and key flavors, such as ranch, sea salt, and buttermilk married with the emerging and trending heat flavors of North African harissa, Japanese togarashi and Malaysian sambal are magnetizing to consumers,”​ Soumya Nair, director of marketing insights for Kerry North America, noted in a release.

Other examples from the Taste Charts include up and coming interest in horchata – a sweet and lightly spiced plant-based milk drink popular in Mexico – and cajeta, another Mexican favorite featuring caramelized goat milk. These sit alongside more traditional nostalgic US flavors of brown sugar, dulce de leche, pecan and coffee, according to Kerry’s 2020 sweet taste chart.

Kerry also includes as emerging in its sweet taste chart US childhood favorite flavors of graham cracker and breakfast cereal, which contrast with Vietnamese coffee, Yuzu, chipotle pepper and macha coffee.

This trend of balancing bold, new multicultural flavors with long-ago US favorites continues in Kerry’s 2020 salty snacks taste chart, which includes in the up and coming category brown sugar, cookies & cream, fudge and dark chocolate across from more internationally inspired flavors of habanero, ancho and hatch peppers, sweet Thai chili, and sesame. In the emerging category of the salty snacks chart classic flavors of peanut butter, pumpkin spice and salted caramel balance berbere, kimchi, piri piri, harissa and Korean barbeque.

Ultimately, while the flavors in Kerry’s Taste Charts are diverse, Kerry assures manufacturer that, with its help, they can offer enticing and exciting new flavor combinations without fear of alienating their consumers.

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