Chili peppers
Ninety per cent of U.S. consumers say they enjoy hot and spicy foods.

KANSAS CITY — Spicy heat should stay on the front burner in food and beverage flavor trends in 2018, and floral notes might take hold in more formulations as well. Also, flavors could play a role in drinking to wellness, and deep-fried flavor may be enjoyed — minus the frying.

This year an on-line survey from Kalsec, Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich., found 90% of U.S. consumers and 80% of European consumers said they enjoy hot and spicy foods. In the United States, one out of four consumers said they were eating spicy foods more often than they did one year ago. In Europe, one out of five consumers said they were eating spicy foods more often than they did one year ago.

“Kalsec has seen two macro themes emerge in recent history: a desire for more spicy foods and a demand for more refined palates in spiciness,” the company said in an e-book called “Spicing up the food industry: Hot and spicy trends and insights.” “Hot and spicy foods also have found their way into general food trends, becoming more mainstream.”

Hatch chile tortilla chips
Hatch chile pepper works well in tortilla chip applications.

The pepper varieties of serrano, Szechuan, poblano, habanero, chipotle, cayenne and jalapeño are popular among people who enjoy spicy food.

The Hatch chile pepper from the Hatch valley in New Mexico may add spice to more applications as well.

“We can expect food developers and marketers to call out specific descriptors for their ingredients such as California organic toasted onion or New Mexico red Hatch chile,” said Kristie Hung, marketing specialist at Sensient Natural Ingredients in Turlock, Calif. “Hatch chile in particular has been gaining traction amongst connoisseurs and chefs around the world. This coveted gem, with its mouth-watering aroma and bold flavor, works wonderfully in baked applications such as tortilla chips.”

Szechuan peppers
Szechuan peppers are gaining popularity among people who enjoy spicy food.

Pointing out where the pepper comes from may appeal to millennials, she said.

“By calling out specific chili variety and its growing region on the label, such as New Mexico Hatch chile, a product with unique novelty stands out more among a sea of spicy products,” Ms. Hung said.