Heirloom recipes inspire F&B flavour innovation

Apparently, what was old seems to be new again, at least when it comes to food and beverage flavours this year. Taste and nutrition company, Kerry, in its Global Taste and Nutrition Charts for 2023 states that flavours inspired by heirloom recipes, across generations of tradition globally, will drive food and beverage innovation this year. The annual charts offer in-depth analysis of flavours, ingredients and nutrition trends shaping innovation in the coming year.

Taste, unsurprisingly, remains the top driver when it comes to food and beverage choices, but Kerry reports that consumers will be motivated by simplicity, sustainability and meeting their nutrition goals. Yet there will be a rise in unconventional flavour pairings such as sweet profiles in savoury foods including blackcurrant and maple syrup, with a strong interest in provenance, functional ingredients and flavours that tell a story.

According to Kerry, there will be 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. Ginseng, kombucha, ashwagandha are already popular ingredients in tea, and in the last couple of years, turmeric has emerged as a leading ‘functional ingredient’ in both coffee and tea with a flurry of product rollouts in cafés and on store shelves.

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 flavour tonalities. This trend is augmented by the influence of social media channels such as TikTok and Instagram. This is evident in bubble tea concoctions that are so popular among Gen Z consumers. (See the cover story in T&CTJ’s March 2023 issue).

Kerry also finds that consumers will be actively seeking unconventional combinations of traditional ingredients and emerging taste profiles from other regions, such as Korean fried chicken, mojito beers, Japanese katsu, Greek tzatziki, etc. Consumers’ desire for healthier beverages with functional ingredients such as ashwagandha, hibiscus and matcha remains strong.

As inflation rises and the threat of a recession looms, Kerry notes that consumers will be value-minded but they will still gravitate towards products that allow permissible indulgence. At the NCA Convention earlier this month, speakers – one an economist, another a financial analyst – agreed that the occasional coffee shop/café-bought coffee (and tea) are considered ‘permissible indulgences.’

“Flavours have a powerful way to convey a story — particularly when it comes to consumer trends and preferences. This year we will witness the resurgence of time-honoured traditions and heirloom recipes as consumers crave traditional tastes with new and emerging flavours,” said Soumya Nair, global consumer research and insights director at Kerry. “Comfort still reigns supreme, with peppermints, hazelnuts, chocolates, cheeses, chilies still dominating tastebuds. Whether a nostalgic treat, a comfort dish or a healthy alternative, consumers expect a greater variety of tastes in 2023.” (Peppermint has long-been an extremely popular ingredient in tea and coffee-blended beverages, while hazelnut is also a long-time fan favourite in coffee drinks).

Nair said that through research and insights from its teams across the globe, “we are seeing how trends are travelling the world, with Asian flavours such as cardamom, Japanese miso, gooseberry and hawthorn, reaching Europe and North America, while popular dishes in Europe such as Moroccan tahini and Italian bolognaise are inspiring innovation in Asia Pacific. Consumers are travelling the world through taste and we expect that interest and desire in authenticity to continue.”

I believe I have seen tea with hawthorn in it while cardamom has recently emerged as a popular ingredient in both coffee and tea, particularly in winter menu offerings. Perhaps gooseberry could be the next ‘it’ ingredient for coffee or tea!

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