Flavor trends go local, ethnic and healthy

By Laura Crowley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Taste, Nutrition, Flavor

Trends are set to combine in 2008, with Americanized ethnic flavors
and healthy but indulgent products steering the market, while
locally, ethically sourced food will continue to grow in
popularity, says a new report.

Packaged Facts' Food Flavors and Ingredients Outlook 2008​ outlines categories it considers will drive flavor and ingredients trends in the forthcoming years. "Marketers have been confronted with a huge opportunity created by aging Baby Boomers that are motivated to stay young and healthy,"​ said Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts. "The key is listening to consumer demand, viewing the trends, and anticipating the needs of the future, which could include healthy indulgences and ethnic American foods." Local and ethical ​Consumer interest in ethical consumerism, including sustainable, organic, local and natural foods, will continue to rise. However, Packaged Facts predicts that the major food trend of the year overshadowing all others will be local. Increasing environmental awareness, sparked by the popularity of Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth,​ as well as growing individual consumer responsibility for taking care of the earth has led consumers to seek local ingredient sourcing. 'Food miles' and 'carbon footprint' will drive consumer demand for country of origin labeling. However, the definition of 'local' can vary between consumers. At the same time, the natural and organic trend will continue, with sustainable or eco-friendly seafood emerging as a hot trend. Health and wellness ​The trend for healthy diet and lifestyle continues to grow, with antioxidants, omega-3, fatty acids and the concept of satiety for weight management still hitting the news. The desire for healthy foods will be balanced with a demand for indulgent products. With new developments, the report says that new possibilities will be created, such as healthy indulgence and sweet savory. Packaged Facts predicts superfruits will lead the race in healthy foods. While pomegranate will become less important, acai, goji berry, noni and mangosteen will gain in popularity. Newcomers on the superfruit scene include yumberry and yuzu, while old favorites such as blueberry and cranberry will continue to grow in usage, says the report. Americanized ethnic ​The overall popularity of ethnic food has never been higher, according to the report. Indian food has been at the forefront of the increasing demand for ethnic food. While 2007 saw the rising popularity of Mediterranean and Thai cuisines, along with more upscale Mexican gaining more attention, emerging cuisines for 2008 will include Somalia and Ethiopia. Furthermore, the report says that Mediterranean cuisine, much like Asian and Latin, will take on more of a fusion approach, incorporating ingredients and cooking styles of various specific countries. Meanwhile, ethnic foods such as Korean, Cuban and Sushi will become more widely available, while also becoming more Americanized. Flavor and Freshness ​Umami, one of the proposed five basic tastes sensed by specialized receptor cells present on the human tongue, is expected to become a household word in 2008. The report predicts manufacturers will therefore try to enhance the umami characteristics of their products. Flavors expected to cross over to additional categories in unfamiliar ways in 2008 include coffee and wasabi. This year is also expected to show an increasing popularity for the use of peppercorns and other "sensory irritants" to provide more distinct flavors, while flavors resulting from specialty sales will still be in strong demand.

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