Flavor trends for 2021: fresh from the garden, breakfast all day, chicken & home baked goods

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/AimeeLeeStudios
Source: Getty/AimeeLeeStudios

Related tags: Flavors, Chicken, Immunity

Consumers’ desire for comforting, nostalgic and indulgent foods and beverages as a way to cope with pressures from the pandemic, election and economic hardship in 2020 is about to clash with more austere preferences more typical of each new year, including those centered on health and wellness.

The result will be an emergence in 2021 of flavor preferences that elevate and blend classic favorites with ingredients that offer functional benefits and a sense of empowerment, according to predictions from Comax Flavors, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and La Brea Bakery.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the foodie or at-home chef in many of us,”​ and while many have “leaned into comfort and nostalgia”​ in 2020, the New Year will push many to look for more wellness-inspired options as seen in years past when many set resolutions to improve their health, Scott Gingerich, Kimpton’s senior vice president of restaurants & bars, said in a statement earlier this month.

This will play out in part through a rise of garden-inspired flavors that can be incorporated into do-it-yourself meal kits, heat-and-eat or other dishes and drinks that can be prepared easily at home, he said, referencing insights gleaned from takeout and room service orders from more than 75 Kimpton restaurants and bars combined with data from Kimpton restaurants worldwide.

For example, he predicts more people will level-up from making banana bread and sourdough to making pesto, jam and “pickled everything”​ using ingredients sourced from their home gardens. The hospitality chain also predicts people will start to grow and eat more cactus.

The addition of classic garden herbs, like rosemary, to bread also will be sought out by more than half of people this holiday season, predicts La Brea Bakery, based on a survey of 500 consumers.

But, some fruits and vegetables can stay in the garden – at least when it comes to bread, adds the artisan bread company. It notes that only 24% of people prefer seasonally flavored breaks, such as pumpkin, cranberry and maple, and 27% aren’t interested in seasonal breads at all.

Garden-inspired flavors also will be used in 2021 to provide a sense of immunity and improved health to foods and beverages, according to Comax Flavors, which predicts flavors such as Apple Carrot Ginger, Blueberry Elderberry and Manuka Honey will be in high demand.

Consumer desire for healthier beverages also will lead to more vegetables, herbs, teas, ginger and honey being spotlighted in mocktails or lower-alcoholic drinks, Kimpton predicts.

It also projects consumers will embrace fresher ingredients, and when they are not available, will enjoy the flavor punch that freeze dried fruits and vegetables can offer dishes.

Chicken’s popularity ‘soars’

Demand for better-for-you nostalgic dishes and functional ingredients in 2021 will fuel continued interest in everything chicken – a trend that Comax notes took off in 2020.

“Chicken is always popular, and the consumption of chicken has soared during the pandemic,”​ Comax notes. “Whether it is real poultry or a plant-based analog, consumers love chicken.”

Comax Flavors’ new Chicken Soars collection will address this with flavors such as chicken vegetable soup, fried chicken and grilled chicken.

Still space for sweets

Even as consumers gravitate to more vegetable and herbal flavors, plenty will still seek out sweet treats for all times of day.

For example, a desire for healthier versions of classic comfort foods in the New Year could lead to increased interest in carbo, predicts Kimpton, which says “the plant-based, low sugar, antioxidant-rich ingredient is fantastic as a natural sweetener.”

In addition, decadent breakfast flavors, including French toast, jelly donut and cereal & milk, which are part of Comax’s Breakfast Basics line, also will be in demand – but not just in the morning, according to the flavor house. It notes the renewed interest in breakfast will extend to beverages, baked goods, confections as well as nutrition and performance products.

The trend towards home baking, well established in 2020, will also continue into the new year with consumers looking for flavors such as banana bread and blueberry cheesecake, which are part of Comax’s new Home Baker flavor line.

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