The new year is approaching, and the major trending flavors for 2024 have been shaped by consumer desires for individuality, nostalgia, wellness and global exploration. Several food and beverage industry stakeholders have issued their predictions for what flavors will meet these growing consumer expectations. ADM’s 2024 Flavor and Color Trends report, T.Hasegawa’s 2024 Food and Beverage Flavor Trends Report and Tastewise’s 2024 “Flavor beyond intuition” report are among those outlining how the trends will define the culinary landscape in the coming year.
“2024 promises to be a year of unapologetic consumer choice,” according to Jennifer Zhou, ADM’s senior director of global product marketing, flavors.
Express yourself with food
In the pursuit of self-expression, consumers are gravitating towards luxurious flavors that manifest in both sweet and savory dishes.
Zhou noted that cinnamon sugar offers “warmth and indulgence” to any dish, caramelized bananas and strawberries can lend “sophisticated richness” while miso, brown butter and chocolate can give “umami, sweet and toasted notes to ice creams and snacks.” She added that AI is aiding these kinds of flavor combinations because flavorists can create possibilities for personalized tastes.
“Self-expression is a consumer need that is irrespective of demographics as consumers choose the foods and beverages that actualize their personal desires and values,” Zhou explained.
Nostalgia takes the stage
Affordability takes center stage as the #dupe trend migrates from beauty and fashion to the food and beverage arena. A recent ADM study further enforced this idea, finding that 74% of US consumers prioritize cost-effectiveness in their purchasing behaviors.
“By re-imagining nostalgic flavor profiles, consumers are pinpointing what authenticity means to them,” Zhou highlighted.
Flavors that capture the nostalgia while being affordable allow consumers to find high value in their food and drink purchases. Melon or grapefruit-flavored energy drinks reminiscent of childhood popsicles and the rise of pistachio in baked goods or cocktails exemplify this trend.
Embrace health and wellness
Consumers are seeking functionality in their food and beverage choices, focusing on energy, relaxation, immune function and gut health. Zhou underscores this trend by mentioning signaling flavors like botanical and citrus notes, stating, “Consumers want to be loud and proud about their wellness choices.”
Cherry blossoms, yuzu, as well as citrus flavors – including emerging ones like finger lime and calamansi – are gaining traction, and fermented flavor profiles tied to gut health are making their mark. Fiber-forward and reduced-sugar products help project healthful choices while maintaining strong flavors.
Defy the expectations
In the age of viral social media content, exploration and unconventionality become the norm. ADM surveyed North American consumers, 78% of whom are positive about foods and beverages that have unusual flavors or flavors that are new to them. In addition, 81% of those surveyed also shared that they seek out flavors from across the globe.
“Consumers desire to be transported to other parts of the world through their tastebuds,” added Zhou.
Black sesame ice cream, watermelon gazpacho, honey-laden Gulab jamun and shacha-dusted salty snack mix showcase this global culinary exploration. Zhou added that bite-sized portions of these snacks are ideal for those testing out unfamiliar flavors.
Asian desserts keep growing
T.Hasegawa’s 2024 Food and Beverage Flavor Trends Report echoed many of the same trends as ADM’s findings, such as personalized tastes, global cuisines as well as nostalgia and familiarity.
“While specific flavors, spices and ingredients are always a key part of our trends analysis, we also look to identify broader shifts in consumer habits since they impact everything from restaurant menus and foodservice to CPG products,” said Doug Resh, director of commercial marketing. “The overarching theme is that consumers are seeking heightened culinary experiences, across every category in the industry.”
The report also crowns ube as 2024’s Flavor of the Year. The purple root from the Philippines has been tapped as a trending ingredient in many different formats, but especially in desserts. Tastewise also identified Asian flavors as trending in desserts – specifically frozen treats. Korean Bingsu, Thai mais con yelo and Filipino halo halo are some of the items that have become popular sellers in the category while red bean, pandan coconut and calamansi are the favorite Asian-inspired ice cream flavors Tastewise expects to grow in popularity next year.
How to implement these flavors
Manufacturers must respond to the consumer desire for self-expression, exploration and conscientious consumption. With digital and social media driving trends, brands must swiftly adapt, leveraging their expertise to optimize production and accelerate the speed to market.
“Brands that push boundaries on flavor innovation while ensuring responsible sourcing will build consumer trust,” shared Zhou.
ADM found that transparency in sourcing and production is vital to consumers, with a survey reporting that 73% of respondents feel more positively about companies that are transparent about where and how products are made, raised or grown.
“As 2024 promises to be a year where self-expression knows no bounds, manufacturers must respond with one-of-a-kind flavors and combinations across categories,” Zhou asserted.
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- Value and AI among top 2024 food trends predictions
- Ice cream’s resurgence through flavor, better-for-you innovation
- It’s not too early to talk about winter flavor trends
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