Food Business News Recaps Ingredient Drivers

Posted February 8, 2024 by Alyssa Stahr

When looking back on 2023, a key trend that impacted consumers was inflation. When comparing 2023 to 2019 or 2020, prices were 25 to 30% times higher. Inflation has eased a bit, but consumers are still feeling the pinch. They’re focused on how they’re spending their food dollars and trying to balance between money, time, taste and nutrition. 

Flavor Trend Prediction 2023: What They Said

Editor Keith Nunes and Associate Digital Editor Sarah Straughn of Sosland’s Food Business News recapped the 2023 ingredient and flavor trends that drove this balance in food and beverage — and which prediction didn’t quite meet expectations. 

  1. Mushroom mania. Applications for mushrooms as a plant-based alternative took over. Popadelics and Eat Meati, which added plant-based umami flavored jerky with patented mushroom root, oat fiber and chickpea flour, were stars of the category. Meati in particular had a big year, capped with Derek Jeter, Chris Paul and Olympic Gymnast Ali Raisman adding star power to the brand. 
  2. Hot honey — big as a versatile condiment. New applications galore launched in both CPG and foodservice. Utz partnered with Mike’s Hot Honey for popular potato chips, and Chick-fil-A tapped into the trend with honey pepper pimento sandwiches. 
  3. Dates fit better for you bill. Dates had a so-so year as a secondary ingredient. They didn’t really ever star on their own as predicted. 
  4. Buzz-less botanicals will bloom. While the market for low and no alcohol passed $11 billion dollars, Dry January’s numbers fell, with participation dropping 19 to 15% in 2023. 

2024: What’s Next?

Will Normalcy Be a Big Trend? Circana says that the food and beverage market will receive modest growth in 2024 after three years of volume sales decrease. Supporting factors include: 

  1. improvement in inflation
  2. improving macroeconomic environment
  3. food and beverage manufacturers growing promotional investment to entice consumers
  4. unique challenges may be dissipating, and the market is becoming more stable.

Whole Foods Market’s Top 10 Food Trend Predictions report says that complex heat and a shift in plant-based innovations will trend. Global peppers deliver nuanced heat, and Food Business News cites scorpion pepper and Hungarian goat horn peppers as unique ingredients that will grow in the condiment section. Also of note: plant-based ingredient lists will shorten, with walnuts, mushrooms and legumes starring as hero ingredients.

Tastewise’s 2024 Flavor Beyond Intuition report says that guajillo peppers will be a common ingredient for food and beverage brands looking to take part in the spicy flavor trend. The premium ingredient is big in salsa matcha. South- and East Asian-inspired flavors will shine, especially in the frozen dessert segment. Look for red beans and calamansi — a citrus fruit used in Filipino cuisine — to emerge.

McCormick & Co’s Annual Flavor Forecast predicts tamarind “will be the flavor of the year,” offering both sweet and tangy notes. Sour flavors also will trend, thanks to acidic notes that enhance sensory experiences and boost craveability. In the “thoughtfully borrowed,” category, Japanese milk bread and foods that pay homage to origin countries will shine. Nostalgic flavors like jerk braised short ribs and cheesy grits with a new twist will continue to grow.

Other trends of note: 

  1. Mindful indulgence and limited edition indulgence will be small ways that consumers will treat themselves. They’re mindful of their own health and the health of the planet. Chocolate, for example, needs to taste good, be good for me, and good for the planet. 

2. Latin American, Caribbean and Mexican cuisine-inspired foods will expand, specifically in the snack category.

3. Flavor fusion will be found everywhere. Creativity will shine, and interest in innovation in complex profiles like smokey, rich, savory and sour tastes will have growing momentum. Also look for flavor fusions to expand beyond traditional. Think guacamole, kobe steak and spicy crayfish.

4. Indian cuisine incorporates tamarind, so we can expect to see Indian flavor in proteins, snacks and dairy, to name a few. Americans will learn that Indian cuisine is not just about chilei heat high levels, but it is a true panorama of spice and innovation. 

5. ‘90s are back. As millennials age, the ‘90s are coming back with Lunchables, sloppy joes, condiment and seasoning brands expanding upon this nostalgic take. PB&J products are also expanding — from protein bars to coffee creamer.

6. Pickles are expected to continue to trend as they did in 2023. Condiments, dressings, dips, breading for chicken nuggets and more will offer a pickled flavor. 

7. Has pumpkin spice gone too far? Nieslen IQ says that sales of the trending flavor dipped, but not enough to declare that it’s going away. Apple pie spice, however, is a flavor to watch. 

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