Kerry’s 2023 Taste and Nutrition Charts report is here, predicting the flavors that will inspire innovative food and beverage products this year.
Many of the flavors on this year’s charts represent traditional recipes and allow consumers to experience time-honored tastes from around the world. And, influenced by social media trends, there’s also growing interest in unconventional flavor pairings.
Even as food prices increase, “taste is the reason why consumers choose food and drink,” Kerry’s President & CEO of Taste, John Savage, said during a webinar on January 31. Savage noted that regardless of where they are in the world and how much they have to spend, people still want great-tasting products and opportunities to indulge.
Traditional flavors allow consumers to travel through taste buds
However, food is about more than taste, as Kerry’s latest research shows. Flavors can carry stories and history from one part of the world to another, reviving recipes of forgotten times. That’s the spirit behind the emergence of global flavors and ingredients like cardamom, miso, churro, tamari, and ashwagandha in the U.S.
“We’re seeing a significant prominence of this trend across our charts this year,” Soumya Nair, Kerry’s Global Consumer Research and Insights Director, said during the webinar. “As much as 20% of flavors and ingredients over the past five years have been inspired by international flavors, just within our taste charts alone. And that’s significant when you’re looking at just 65 flavors per chart.”
It’s likely that sheltering during the pandemic helped drive this desire for authentic flavors from around the globe. “This consumer desire to travel through your taste buds is really strong,” added Nair.
Unusual flavor mixes create adventurous taste experiences
Comforting, nostalgic flavors are here to stay — chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, and peppermint in sweets and drinks, for example, and cheeses and chili in savory foods and snacks. But, inspired by social channels like TikTok and Instagram, consumers are eager to try unique flavor combinations, giving way to a trend of unlikely pairings.
On the shelves, this might be something like the new fruitcake flavored Mountain Dew, Nair said. On the menu, you might find coffee and lattes flavored with cardamom, fennel, anise, or even ghost pepper. There’s no limit to the unconventional mashups of flavors that could emerge.
“We see a lot more of that confluence happening,” Nair said, “and it’s just going to grow over this year.”
Nutritional trends now on the radar
Although taste is still the primary purchase motivator for food and beverage products, nutrition is becoming increasingly important to consumers. That’s why Kerry added a nutrition chart to its report for the first time this year.
“As we are fighting through the pandemic,” Nair said, “consumers are getting a more proactive sense of health [. . .] and making more conscious efforts towards it. Our nutrition chart truly pays homage to those nutritional claims and functional need states that will be prominent for 2023.”
In this nutrition space, trends like gluten-free, plant-based, and diets low or free of sugar, salt, and carbs have settled within the U.S. Meanwhile, the fastest-growing nutrition trends focus on supporting specific systems, such as promoting joint, heart, and skin health and brain function. Expect to see more products boosted with vitamins and minerals, omega-3/DHA, and postbiotics.
How ingredients become immortalized
To showcase just how far a single ingredient can grow and travel over time, Kerry took a look back on how much progress Sriracha has made over the years.
Worldwide, Sriracha product launches skyrocketed from 2007 to 2021, growing 45%. Sriracha has evolved from a single ingredient to a component of flavor blends and a popular addition to products across food and beverage categories.
“Sriracha’s not just a condiment anymore,” Nair said. She noted its use as a seasoning for popcorn, shrimp, and chicken tenders, and, more recently, the introduction of Sriracha vinegar. “While you’re shopping or while you’re going and getting your next latte, you’re probably going to see Sriracha all over the place.”
So what will be the next Sriracha? That’s exactly what Kerry charts are designed to uncover.
For a complete look at all of Kerry’s taste insights across various regions, see the full 2023 Taste and Nutrition Charts.