As one of the world’s premier flavor and fragrance development companies, T. Hasegawa develops custom flavors for many of the world’s top food and beverage brands, and the company is recognized around the globe for its innovation and expertise.
Part of that expertise is staying at the forefront of food and beverage trends. Each year, T. Hasegawa leverages its flavor expertise with an annual report identifying the latest consumer tastes and predicting upcoming changes in what consumers will look for in packaged foods, beverages and even foodservice.
Here’s a small taste of the company’s top flavor forecast insights for 2022:
Top Five Food & Beverage Trends—Ingredients
3. Energy Boosting
4. Mental Health
Top Nine Food & Beverage Trends—Consumers
1. Bio Availability of Nutrients
3. Gut Health
4. Clean Label Alternatives
6. Escapism Flavors
7. Plant Forward
8. Mexican Comfort Food
9. Classics with a Twist
1. “Permissible indulgence” in the form of desserts and confections which offer a new twist on traditional favorites. With many consumers still working from home and dealing with pandemic stress, familiar dessert flavors can still deliver on flavor, texture and other experiences that tap into indulgence – and this trend is expected to grow in 2022. Unique flavors are still the key driver in the dessert category, with 67% of consumers in a recent study citing flavor as a key attribute for sweet baked goods, and 72% citing flavor as important for ice cream and frozen treats. Tropical fruit flavors like pineapple, mango and guava are also growing in new product development, driven by increased consumer demand.
2. Adventurous and exciting flavors are driving product innovation in snack foods. Snacks are still an escape for many consumers and elevating classic snacks with bold exciting flavors is giving consumers new ways to enjoy old favorites. One growing trend is the rise of charcuterie board flavors, such as prosciutto, mortadella, sopressata, calabrese and others, which are becoming mainstream when paired with classic snack flavors.
3. Consumers tap into their nostalgia for international travel through snacking. More than 28% of consumers in a recent poll said they would like to try snacks that are popular in other countries or regions (including Latin America, Asia and the Middle East). Some of the trending international flavors for 2022 include goji berry, curry, guajillo chili, kimchi, baobab, maca and many others.
More than 36% of consumers in a recent study cited interest in seeing more authentic international flavors in the grocery store – but many want to be introduced to these flavors through fusion with familiar foods. For example, 40% of U.S. consumers like dips and sauces with internationally inspired flavors like sriracha and Thai peanut, often used as a spread to add excitement to classic dishes.
4. Broadening interest in Latin American cuisine. While 61% of U.S. consumers feel that Latin American foods have a variety of flavor, consumer experience is largely limited to Mexican cuisine. The wide availability and appeal of Mexican cuisine is opening the door for consumer interest in foods from other Latin American countries, such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Columbia and Argentina – all of which feature distinctly different tastes with some overlap of key ingredients for a perfect blend of flavor adventure and familiarity.
5. Adding excitement to proteins and meat alternatives through complex flavor. More than 57% of consumers are looking for unique flavors to make everyday proteins exciting – and this exists in the rapidly growing plant-based meat alternative category. Almost half of U.S. consumers say that flavor is a key attribute when purchasing proteins, putting increased emphasis on rubs, marinades and seasonings featuring complex savory ingredients. Rich spicy flavors like harissa, chimichurri and Cajun are growing as a popular option for proteins, along with smoked hardwood flavors such as hickory, mesquite, oak, alder and others.
6. Prepared meals are helping consumers explore new flavors in the kitchen. In a recent survey, more than 43% of consumers say they buy prepared meals because of the taste. As these meal kits become more mainstream, prepared meal brands can play to consumers’ aspirations for home cooking by offering products that allow for customization and flavor exploration, such as added sauces or seasonings. More than 65% of U.S. adults say a prepared meal is a great way to try an international cuisine, such as Ethiopian, Indian, Thai or Korean.
7. Flavor and function are driving beverage innovation. Layering in features like compelling flavors, carbonation and functionality with ingredient improvements will help drive consumer beverage purchases. Flavors are the most important aspect of beverages for most consumers, including 70% of RTD tea drinkers and 56% of carbonated soft drink consumers in the US.
8. Sophisticated cocktail-inspired flavors are adding excitement to the non-alcoholic beverage category. A number of lemon-based flavors are poised to make a splash in non-alcoholic beverage development, including burnt lemon, charred lemon zest, lemongrass and Meyer lemon.
9. The impressive growth of hibiscus as a beverage flavor. As Mexican cuisine’s popularity continues in the U.S., hibiscus is growing as a bright, flavorful ingredient in beverages. Over the last three years, hibiscus has grown 24% in menu incidence as a flavor and 65% as an ingredient.
10. Sports nutrition beverages are branching out into bold new flavors. While classic coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavors will always be popular, the sports nutrition beverage category is seeing a rise in fun, fruity flavors such as rainbow sherbet, blood orange yuzu, sour gummy, rocket pop, salted watermelon and more.