Top 3 Flavor Experts to Watch in 2023

New flavor trends are emerging at the intersection of persistent food inflation and pent-up consumer demand left over from the COVID-19 lockdown.

According to industry experts, consumers are looking for authenticity and transparency above all, and these values ​​largely dictate which flavors will win next year.

With that, here are three of the top flavor trends experts say you should be watching in 2023:

1. Complex heat

Spicy food has grown in popularity over the past decade, but today’s consumers crave more than heat—they want to learn about different peppers and the complexity of their flavors.

According to Spoonshot’s 2023 Trends Reportthe interest in complex heat “goes beyond the level of heat to specific pepper varieties from around the world, the underlying flavor notes and even the pairing with other flavors.”

Spoonshot’s data shows that the complex heat trend is being driven by consumers’ growing interest in international flavors, which some experts attribute to a collective desire for new experiences after the COVID-19 lockdown.

“What we’re learning is that it’s partly about making us feel something,” said Robin Carter, founder and CEO of Jump Rope Innovation The Food Institute. “We break the monotony, have fun and stimulate ourselves.

“There are also cuisines that are trending as consumers seek new experiences through food, where spice levels are more complex and at higher levels than US consumers are typically used to — Indian, West African, etc.” Carter explained. “As these kitchens continue to go mainstream in 2023, we’ll see more sophisticated heat going forward.”

2. Nostalgia

Coming out of the COVID pandemic, many consumers are drawn to comfort foods that remind them of simpler times before the pandemic. Nostalgic foods have become extremely popular over the past year, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down in 2023.

“In times of change and uncertainty, it’s human nature to return to the things that make us feel secure and comfortable,” said Dan Meshes, CEO of Sprinkles Cupcakes. The Food Institute. “Food especially has the power to do this.

“So when you start seeing certain flavors that you remember growing up or dishes that remind you of cooking at home with your family, there’s an immediate connection,” Meshes said.

Kellogg’s banked on that kind of instant connection when it brought back Frosted Grape Pop-Tarts earlier this year, a flavor that was discontinued in the 1990s as millennials grew up.

McDonald’s also tapped into the nostalgia trend this year when it released a Happy Meal for adults, along with a plastic toy, as part of a limited-time collaboration with streetwear company Cactus Plant Flea Market. The fast-food giant is doubling down on nostalgia this Halloween by bringing back the Boo Bucket, a Happy Meal served in a familiar treat bucket that debuted in 1986.

3. Street food

Consumers are seeking new experiences through food while dealing with ever-increasing food inflation – street food combines both truths, making it the cuisine of the moment.

“Street food brings an aura of authenticity that people right now, especially Gen Z, are looking for,” said Leith Steele, Senior Strategist and Head of Insights at Carbonate The Food Institute. “Accessible and unpretentious in nature, it can also be seen as an antidote to fine dining.”

Elote, the Mexican street corn, is one example of an authentic street food that has gained popularity in the US in the past few years. PepsiCo launched Mexican Street Corn Cheetos as a limited-time offering in 2021, and Kellogg’s came out with Pringles Mexican Street Corn Crisps this summer.

According to a report by Spoonshot, chaat masala, a blend of spices from North India and a staple in many street food dishes, could be the next big thing in 2023. Consumer interest in chaat masala is currently five times greater than business interest, indicating that there is a demand waiting to be filled.

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