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Flavor Outlook 2008

Posted: January 21, 2008

Forecasting the future of flavor is an admittedly unscientific undertaking, but a survey of some recent analyses is instructive.

Tension Between Emerging Cuisines and Familiar Tastes

Ethnic-centric trends have made several organizations’ lists of hot flavor trends. Member chefs of the American Culinary Federation (via the National Restaurant Association) have cited a number of broad categories for future growth: ethnic fusion, Latin American, Mediterranean, Thai and Pan-Asian. Specifically, the surveyed members (1,200+) cited foods such as flatbreads, Asian entrée salads and appetizers, ciabatta bread, and mojitos. Meanwhile, Flavor & The Menu magazine points toward growing interest in street food from around the world, particularly Mexican antojitos (loosely translated as “little cravings”) and Indian chaat (small plates of savory snacks). A recent Datamonitor survey shows that 41% of European and US consumers have tried new and exotic flavors in the last 12 months. There is, however, one interesting caveat among all of this emerging cuisine. Datamonitor’s study also shows that, in the past year, 20% of surveyed consumers purchased more grocery items on the basis of nostalgic appeal. Given this “polarization of flavor preferences,” those seeking to create successful flavors apparently will have to simultaneously look forward and back.

Novel Meat Flavors

A number of organizations have also identified artisanal and alternatively sourced meats for unique flavor profiles. McCormick & Co., in its annual flavor list, noted the combination of allspice and exotic meats. American Culinary Federation member chefs noted prosciutto and other aged meats, buffalo, ostrich and venison as being of particular interest. Meanwhile. Flavor & The Menu magazine cited cedar-cured salmon and craft bacons as hot items.