It’s that time of the year. The fever pitch of the Christmas season has long been toned down, but fine chocolate brands inevitably start to work themselves into a stew. They are tormented by a pivotal question: “Which flavors will hook the attention of demanding consumers dictating the latest trends in food and beverage?”
For fine chocolate brands, there’s no better timing than mid-January to learn about and explore what will be the major flavor trends that may inspire their next product revamp or development in 2019.
In the AI era of market intelligence agencies and flavor supplier companies analyzing and mulling over consumer’s behavior all year round, big data never lie about the daily reality trends and the mind-blowing entrees that will catch on in 2019.
Here are some macro and micro flavor trends fine chocolate brands should consider to rejuvenate inspiration, based on what the market currently craves—or is going to want more.
Top 4 Flavor Trends in 2019
A common thread will characterize 2019 throughout: consumers look for a perfect balance between flavors they are already familiar with and flavors that will satisfy their longing for an exotic adventure.
In particular, which flavor patterns will be most in vogue for 2019?
1) Florals and Botanicals
If floral flavors gained momentum in 2018, in 2019 they will upgrade as the hottest trend of the year. Analysts forecast the Global Floral Flavors Market to grow at a CAGR of 9.95% during the period 2018-2022.
Floral pink flavors declined in all their color variants—from the warmest peach to the coldest violet—will be the ultimate height of sophistication in 2019.
Global growing demand for rosé sparkling wines and pink gins, flavored with blends of rose, rhubarb, berries, citrus, and spices, have started popping up since mid-2018, so much to contaminate other products, such as ice creams, lattes, and cakes. The overwhelming pinkish trend will be expressed with a non-compromising visual emphasis in 2019 through the presence of petals, and extended with all-pink packaging details.
Firmenich, the world largest privately-owned fragrance and flavor company, has declared hibiscus as 2019 Flavor of the Year, based on the growing appeal of florals in food and drink.
Market researcher Mintel’s global consumer database indicates that the worldwide use of hibiscus in new food and beverage product launches has grown 300% since 2012!
Hibiscus is a lovely choice for the consumer due to its appealing attributes, like the comforting floral aroma paired with a slightly tangy profile. Hibiscus also taps into a growing general appreciation driven by the visual appeal of instagrammable pink- and purple-hued florals, such as rose, lavender, violet, and elderflower.
For its reassuring but pulsing nature, hibiscus even links well with Living Coral, Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year.
Pantone describes Living Coral as vibrant yet mellow, a nurturing color that appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time displays a lively presence within social media.
Besides hibiscus, other key floral flavors and color blooms going mainstream in 2019 are:
Flavor firm Kerry also notes the steady rise of classic but sought-after botanical flavors, highlighting chamomile and saffron.
Finally, as interest in hemp grows, flavor firm Döhler remarks that hemp’s flavor is finding a growing following. The spicy-sweet character of hemp and hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oils are well on their way to taking one of the top positions in the list of favorite flavors in 2019.
2) Fruits and Veggies
Fruit- and vegetable-derived flavors remain a traditional palette for food brands. Flavor firms note a few standouts in 2019—some of which consumers may be less familiar with.
Besides all-time favorite citrus fruits, such as orange, lemon, and lime, new and unusual citrus aromas are gradually gaining in popularity.
Unusual citrus fruits, mostly native to Asia, such as calamondin, kumquat, and yuzu, are impressing consumers with their exceptionally complex flavors that offer interesting and innovative options for food and beverage applications.
Synergy Flavors points out that yuzu is a novel citrus fruit that has been making appearances across food and beverage categories more frequently as cultural influences and interest in diverse flavors increase.
Yuzu, grown in China and Tibet, tasting like a cross between grapefruit and lime, is now seen in emerging categories like sparkling beverages, combining well with familiar and fruity flavors, such as mint, apple, and lemon.
Even the most common flavors continue to hold court—including banana, according to flavor extracts firm Virginia Dare.
Banana is a familiar flavor, one that we expect to grow in 2019 as a way to upscale elegant desserts, such as bananas foster crème brûlée, banana cream pie, and banoffee pie. Definitely, regular and caramelized banana are flavors anticipated seeing in alcoholic beverages like craft beers.
Over in veggies, Symrise calls kohlrabi, also known as ‘German turnip,’ a contender to be the next kale, sprouting up on menus across the U.S., including in ice cream.
3) Sweet and Bitter
Some flavors are pegged as standouts in the sweet and savory field in 2019.
Honey, maple, and molasses will be strong sweet performers in 2019, according to Gold Coast Ingredients.
Honey flavors have become popular in their simple pure or caramelized forms, as well as used to complement other flavors, for instance:
- lavender and honey,
- pistachio and honey,
- milk and honey,
- lemon and honey,
- orange and honey.
Maple sweetening will also grow more prominent. Since the consumption of maple syrup has increased in both the United States and Canada in the past two years, flavor firms expect this trend to continue with new flavored spirits, coffees, lemonades, and more.
If pumpkin spice has led the fall flavor conversation the past few years, a considerable migration toward maple will be more pronounced.
Molasses also shows promise.
Like burnt caramel, molasses has the potential to intrigue consumers. It is a flavor that many are familiar with, evoking warmth, nostalgia, and feelings of homemade goodness.
Crème brûlée is another sweet trend foreseen as an innovative indulgent flavor in 2019.
If sweet flavor trends satisfy with rustic and refined options in 2019, bitter flavors will be the new sweet.
As modern consumers are increasingly on the lookout for less sweet and more mature tastes, Flavor firm Döhler indicates wormwood as the next bitter trend, for its complex, bitter-herbal flavor profile.
Besides its well-known use as one of the main flavoring ingredients in vermouth wine, wormwood can also be used to add taste to a variety of other innovative food concepts.
4) Smoked and Fermented
Flavors in the smoked and fermented spectrum are finding more and more fans.
The ‘smokeless’ smoke flavor trend will escalate to new sophistication in 2019, with flavor profiles, such as applewood, maplewood, and cherrywood smoke-type flavors dominating the scene.
Oakwood, which offers a smoky flavor, is also seeing more activity.
Characterized by delicate smoky notes, oakwood pairs well with vanilla and caramel flavors. Its exciting flavor is not just found in barreled spirits, but is rapidly becoming a trendy ingredient in light cocktails and teas. Oak is undoubtedly one of the most exciting flavors to keep an eye out for in 2019.
Comax Flavors points to the continued growth of fermented flavors, including five spice kombucha tea, pickled beet and onion, and pickled peach.
This renewed interest is driven by consumers gravitating toward friendly bacteria that support digestive health, coupled with an interest in experiencing bold tastes.
Flavor Provenance, Cultural Fusions, Healthy Ingredients, and Sensory Appeal will be strategical marketing elements in 2019
Kerry’s predictions forecast that 2019 will bring further specificity to the origin of flavors as ingredients.
As formulators put new flavors on consumers’ taste maps, marketing stories can also capitalize on the exotic background behind those ingredients. Products that are created with ingredients that are traceable and have provenance claims can be the nudge to engage with a particular product rather than another with no specificity. For instance, a ‘Brazilian orange’ carries more appeal than an ‘orange.’
Cultural fusion is also a big draw. Indian-cuisine-inspired spices will go more hybrid in 2019.
Combinations like cardamom mocha, cardamom white chocolate, chai caramel, chai molasses, garam masala gingersnap, maple cumin, and maple turmeric will be the new trend to look out this year.
Interest in Indian flavors is also driving the rise of marigold as a flavor.
Flavors whose appeal is in line with the general growing consumer interest in functional, healthy products to live better—and, possibly, longer—will stay actual in 2019.
Superstar spices turmeric and ginger keep representing smashing hits in different food categories, spanning from sweet and savory snacks to teas and alcoholic drinks.
Oats are a healthy ingredient that several flavor firms call out as a flavor to watch in 2019.
Oat milk exploded in popularity in 2018 as a creamier alternative to almond- and soy-based milks, favored by vegan specialty-coffee consumers. Considering this trend alongside the general move toward increased fiber intake, toasted and puffed oat will evolve as more mature flavor in cereal snacks and other food categories 2019.
Coffee continues to see heightened activity due to the healthy halo around coffee in general.
Cascara-flavored options will grow in good-for-you products. Mushroom coffee is another global trend for 2019, spurred by the health benefits associated with mushrooms.
Lastly, coffee creamy flavors will gain more traction in different food products in 2019, mainly catering to a younger audience. As coffee consumption is growing globally among younger consumers (13-18 years of age), these customers prefer creamy and sweet coffee beverages such as shakes, smoothies, and twists on lattes.
Finally, in order for flavors to get a renovated reception from consumers, brands must remember the importance of other attributes that contribute to the ‘whole package.’
Visual and texture impact will play a decisive role in delivering share-worthy experiences that people will crave. Edgy flavors and bold colors emphasized through attention-grabbing ingredients will stay more relevant in the consumer’s mind with the architecture of specific sensations that will elevate the overall sensory experience.
Which flavor trends have you already encompassed and which ones will you consider in 2019?