Healthy Options Coupled with Great Taste Will Drive 2024 Flavor Trends

When it comes to food and beverage flavors and ingredients, consumers have been speaking their mind for years now. What some may label “trends” may actually be benchmarks — great taste, natural ingredients and the reduction of elements like fat, sugar and salt.

Consumers’ desire to incorporate health into “body, mind, spirit and planet” was the focus of a recent Food Technology Magazine article about 2024 trends. And while the overarching goals — heathier ingredient makeup, no meaningful change in taste — have not changed, there are new angles to explore for manufacturers who are looking to gain an edge.

Consider “newstalgia,” the phenomenon of giving longtime favorite products a new flavor combination or niche twist. That’s leading to category blurring, the article reports, such as savory-inspired desserts and beverage-inspired sauces. (This also hints at “fusion” — which is not a new concept, but one getting turbocharged with things like Viet-Cajun or Korean-Mexican mashups.)

Consumers firmly behind the wheel

Consumers have strong relationships with their favorite foods and beverages, but they’re willing to explore new takes on them as long as their goals of wellness are met, says Jen Lyons, marketing manager at Sensient Flavors & Extracts.

“Consumers are finding comfort in food mashups and are sentimental while yearning for a return to some past period,” Lyons says. “Flavor trends are drawing upon the concepts of ‘newstalgia,’ as consumers crave the connection with flavors from their past with the desire to explore new flavors. We can expect to see a resurgence of classic flavors with a twist.”

That might be a longtime favorite mac and cheese with a hint of kimchi, or fig ice cream with an edgy balsamic vinegar swirl. (That ice cream might even have bits of blue cheese, to achieve that “sweet-savory” blend that’s so much in demand.) Old-school cocktail profiles are finding their way into ice cream, too, and even into barbecue sauce! Out on the town, look for vegetable-infused cocktails with unique twists on traditional offerings.

Other examples the article touched on include: green curry risotto, a tandoori chicken burger, Korean potato salad and Japanese guacamole, all of which are popping up on menus around the world.

“These could be updated versions of what a consumer considers comfort foods from childhood — elevated with a unique, exciting niche flavor,” Lyons says.

The category-blurring trend will grow as chefs push the envelope to create the “wow factor” consumers are looking for. Many times, these concepts offer not only new flavor but new texture as well. Consumers can “double indulge” in their favorite things through this category crossover.

Ready to be taste buds? Let’s chat about how to mix, match and reinvent your product lines to build something new and exciting.