Celebrating and Reflecting on 20 years of Innovation and Discovery
McCormick Flavor Solutions launched the Flavor Forecast: Looking Back to Look Forward. As a business segment of McCormick & Company, Inc., McCormick Flavor Solutions is a culinary-inspired flavor business that develops custom flavor products for consumer food and beverage manufacturers and the foodservice industry globally. It has a comprehensive product portfolio of solutions, including ingredients, coating systems, custom condiments, branded foodservice products and custom flavors. McCormick Flavor Solutions creates authentic and natural flavors that resonate with consumer preferences.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary, this report covers how past and present flavor trends intersect to shape tomorrow’s tastes. Since 2000, McCormick’s world-class team of culinary, food scientists, and flavor experts have partnered with culinary trendsetters and top chefs globally to create the Flavor Forecast. This international team assesses food and beverage trends, from those on the verge of widespread appeal to those just beginning to gain notice.
“In 20 years of forecasting, we’ve identified trends that have and will shake up the way we cook, flavor and eat. These discoveries impacted food and drink culture in the most exciting ways,” said Gary Patterson, executive research chef at McCormick & Company. “From travel and health to pleasure and indulgence, it’s about how these things connect us to food and drinks while also offering sensory delight to create the ultimate experience.”
This report focuses on four themes that chefs, product developers and industry professionals can draw inspiration from to create unique experiences for menus, packaged food and drink and more. Explore the themes below and learn more about featured flavors and recipes at FlavorForecast.com.
1. SWEET & SEASONAL SATISFACTION
From simple to complex, sweetness provides consumers with an indulgent and seasonal escape and a chance to enjoy every sensorial detail of food and eating. Seasonal profiles’ ‘limited time’ nature is what makes them resonate on an emotional level with consumers. Whether formal or informal, consumers look forward to these flavors again and again.
•Smoked Spices and Herbs: A build on familiar smoky flavors, like smoked cinnamon and cardamom, dials up richness in meals and drinks.
•Pumpkin Pie Spice and Coconut Milk: An unexpected duo, this warm pairing of pantry staples reconnects the components of a familiar spice mixture with tropical roots.
•Meyer Lemon with Lemon Thyme, Limoncello and Lemon Peel: The notes of acidity, bitterness, sweetness, and herbal showcases lemon’s multi-dimensional flavor profile.
•Ancho Chile Pepper and Hibiscus – Vitality in Bloom: Tart, floral notes of exotic hibiscus, alongside the lingering heat of ancho chile pepper, create a lively Latin combo.
In 2010, Pumpkin Pie Spice was in the ‘Always in Seasons’ trend. The quintessential flavor for cooler months, Pumpkin Pie Spice delivers sweet brown notes like cinnamon and ginger. Over the years, this warming spice has become synonymous with fall and has appeared in a variety of applications. Pumpkin Pie Spice has seen a 218% increase in US menu mentions between 2010 to 20201 and a 207% increase in food and drink retail product names between 2010 to 20192.
What does all this mean for the future of Sweet & Seasonal Satisfaction? More blurred boundaries and the fusion of sweet with everything from heat to savory, sour and salty for brand-new sensory experiences. With every sip or bite, the bar will be raised for the next taste experience in desserts, baked goods, cereal, beverages and beyond.
2. SPICY (R)EVOLUTION
When it comes to the history of Flavor Forecast, there’s never been a shortage of bold and spicy profiles. Consumers crave it–heat and spice offer a sensory experience and enjoyment like no other. Heat is now everywhere, from grocery store shelves to upscale dining establishments, and eating spicy for fun, delight and dares are now social pastimes.
•Chilies Obsession: Aji Amarillo, Guajillo, Tien Tsin, and Chilie de Arbol are chilies to watch as they bring a unique level of heat, distinctive flavor and usage to the table.
•Heat Plus Tang: Tangy contrasts balance heat in sauces and seasonings, like Chamoy Sauce from Mexico and Sambal Sauce from Southeast Asia.
•Sweet on Pepper: Hiding in plain sight for years, pepper’s bite is tempered by naturally sweet ingredients like syrups and exotic fruits.
In 2014, Chamoy was featured in the ‘Mexican World Tour’ trend when people were craving aspects of the bright, casual cuisine of Mexico. This condiment is made from pickled fruit, lime, spice and chilies and is most even used as an ingredient in appetizers, entrees and drinks, such as spicy margaritas and micheladas. Chamoy has seen a 1,115% increase in US menu mentions between 2014 to 2020.1
As for the future of Spicy (R)evolution? Expect menus and products to raise the bar with creative pairings of heat in applications like cocktails, baked goods, marinades and more. Trends like Chilies Obsession, Heat Plus Tang and Sweet on Pepper will grow in application for multi-dimensional heat.
3. GLOBAL FINDS
As the desire for hyper-local tastes has increased, some consumers crave global dishes in their traditional form, while others prefer more approachable fusions. Through ingredient combinations, signature dishes or cooking methods, chefs can celebrate and bring to life these ethnic cuisines.
•Brazilian Tempero Baiano Seasoning: A blend of oregano, parsley, peppers and cumin creates a rich blend great for stews, seafood and vegetable dishes.
•Mexican Recados: Originating with the Mayans, this sour orange and annatto-flavored Yucatan spice paste is used in marinades for hearty cuts of meat, like cochinita pibil (pulled pork).
•Dukkah: A mix of toasted nuts and seeds from North Africa that can be salty, sweet or spicy and goes great with olive oil-dipped pita bread, vegetables, meat, and more.
•Modern Mediterranean: Eastern Mediterranean ingredients meet Western European classics, with ingredients like barberries and Baharat seasoning.
•Japanese Izakaya Eats: Izakayas, Japanese gastropubs, serve up casual tasting plates, similar to Spanish tapas, that feature bold glazes, tangy sauces and seaweed seasonings.
•Filipino Pinoy BBQ: These tender, juicy meat skewers are flavored with soy sauce, lemon, garlic, sugar, pepper and banana ketchup to create a sweet, savory and spicy dish.
•Indian Kashmiri: Similar to Garam Masala, this is a fragrant blend from the Kashmir region for seasoning lamb dishes, like classic Rogan Josh, chicken curries and vegetables.
In 2013, Dukkah was forecasted in the ‘Empowered Eating’ trend and was paired with market-fresh broccoli to deliver satisfying flavors and textures. This simple mix of toasted nuts and seeds can be customized to be salty, sweet or spicy. Typically sprinkled on olive oil-dipped pita bread, it’s delicious with vegetables, pasta and rice, or rubbed onto seafood and meats before grilling. Simply put, Dukkah can’t be stopped, as there has been a 267% increase in US menu mentions of the spice since 2013.1
What’s the next stop for Global Finds? As 2020 has brought about a new normal, demand for global flavors will likely increase with consumers stuck at home and unpredictable travel restrictions. Look to these global profiles for inspiration for restaurant menus and product innovation.
4. EMPOWERED EATING AND DRINKING
Health and wellness have always been top-of-mind in past forecasts. Lifestyle and food are more intertwined than ever before, but the flavor doesn’t need to be compromised to meet nutritional needs. Far beyond just eliminating fat, sugar, salt and other perceived “bad ingredients” from diet, health and wellness have become highly personalized with a flexible approach to eating.
•Alternative Pulse Proteins: High-protein legumes like pigeon peas, cranberry beans, and black beluga lentils are packed are easily elevated when paired with delicious ingredients.
•Blends with Benefits: Good-for-you ingredients like matcha, chia seeds, turmeric, and flaxseed bring everyday versatility to meals, drinks and snacks.
•Umami Veggies: Activated by veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and nori, the “fifth taste” continues to gain popularity with foods like snacks, desserts, beverages and dips.
In 2016, Turmeric was forecasted within ‘Blends with Benefits.’ Blended with cocoa, cinnamon and nutmeg, it goes great in smoothies, drinks and baked goods. Turmeric has seen a 110% increase in US menu mentions1 and a 253% increase in food and drink retail product names between 2014 to 2019.2