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A new 2021 Taste Trends report from Kerry identifies seven global taste trends:

  1. Nostalgic taste
  2. Seasonal taste
  3. Enticing eats
  4. Taste exploration
  5. Novel flavors
  6. Acceptable sweetness
  7. Healthy halo

These trends are playing out differently in various regions of the world. Here’s a look at how the trends are showing up in the United States.

Nostalgic taste

The pandemic has led consumers to want more familiar comfort food and beverages with nostalgic and classic flavors. The trend shows up in both nostalgic dessert-inspired flavors in beverages, yogurts, and sweet baked goods and in traditional-meal-inspired spice mixes and seasonings added to salty snacks. Flavor examples: 

  • Apple 
  • Brownie 
  • Caramel 
  • Cheddar cheese 
  • Chocolate churro 
  • Mac & cheese 
  • Mixed berry
  • Peanut butter 
  • Pizza 
  • Pumpkin pie 
  • S’mores 
  • Strawberry 

Seasonal taste

People like to get away from their day-to-day routines and pandemic stress with seasonal tastes. Examples:

  • Apple 
  • Barbecue 
  • Cherry blossom 
  • Ginger
  • Hibiscus 
  • Lavender 
  • Mango
  • Maple 
  • Orange 
  • Peppermint 
  • Pumpkin spice 
  • Salted caramel 
  • Smoke 
  • Watermelon
  • Yuzu 

Enticing eats

The online surge of visually stunning food and beverages has led to new innovation in flavors, textures, and ingredients that add to consumers’ overall taste experience. Examples:

  • Boba pearls 
  • Chia seeds 
  • Matcha 
  • Miniature baked goods 
  • Plant protein 
  • Ruby chocolate 
  • Sprinkles 
  • Taro 
  • Toasted glutinous rice powder 
  • Turmeric
  • Whipped coffee

Taste exploration 

Consumers want authentic yet accessible cuisines from distinct countries, regions, and localities. The level of adventure depends on the person — some crave authentic representations of international or local cuisine while others want to dabble with unfamiliar tastes in approachable and familiar formats. Examples:

  • Cajun
  • Calamansi
  • Cotija cheese
  • Curry
  • Dragon fruit
  • Harissa
  • Hatch Valley pepper
  • Irish cream
  • Korean BBQ 
  • Lychee 
  • Masala 
  • Miso 
  • Soursop 
  • Yuzu 
  • Za’atar

Novel flavors

Curiosity about novel, unknown, and unfamiliar flavors abounds. “Classic and new fantasy flavors, such as cotton candy, birthday cake, mermaid and unicorn, are popping up in sweet, beverage and salty snack product categories,” states the report. Examples:

  • Adobo
  • Birthday cake 
  • Black garlic 
  • Cardamom 
  • Cotton candy 
  • Ghost pepper 
  • Hibiscus 
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Orange blossom 
  • Rose
  • Salted egg 
  • Takoyaki 
  • Tamarind
  • Taro

Acceptable sweetness 

Consumers increasingly look for products to help manage sugar consumption, including those that offer reduced perception of sweetness, less sugar, or clean-label sugar alternatives. The report also notes opportunities to use flavors and ingredients — including vanilla, cinnamon, chiles, cloves, and other spices — that affect perceived sweetness without adding sugar. Examples of alternatives:

  • Banana
  • Brown sugar 
  • Coconut sugar
  • Dark chocolate
  • Date
  • Erythritol
  • Fig
  • Honey 
  • Jaggery 
  • Maple 
  • Monk fruit

Healthy halo 

Foods and beverages that both taste good and have health and functional benefits are in demand. Consumer focus on functional benefits has increased dramatically during the pandemic as people look to support their immediate and long-term health goals. Examples:

  • Collagen
  • Elderflower
  • Ginger
  • Ginseng
  • Green coffee bean extract
  • Lavender
  • Maca
  • MCT
  • Mint
  • Plant protein 
  • Probiotics 
  • Reishi 
  • Turmeric

For more information, download the full report.
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