KANSAS CITY — Consumer interest in healthier lifestyles, multicultural cuisines and authentic and unconventional taste experiences are driving flavor innovation. 

Comax Flavors, Melville, N.Y., predicted a rise in classic floral flavors, such as honeysuckle, jasmine, lavender, lilac and rose. Kerry, Beloit, Wis., also cited rose as an emerging flavor in sweet food and beverage applications, alongside savory neighbors such as miso and rosemary.

“You can expect to see the dramatic duality of sweet and savory appear across categories, predictable growing with experimental, such as maple and miso in sweet, or pink peppercorn and peppermint in salty snacks,” said Soumya Nair, director of market insights for Kerry North America.

To compile its annual flavor trends list, Kerry analyzed sales performance, consumer behavior, food service influences and internal culinary and mixology knowledge to predict tastes for the coming year.

Kerry forecasts further specificity to the origin of flavors and ingredients in 2019 as Americans seek more authentic and unconventional taste experiences, Kerry said. Flavors from whole ingredients and inclusions also are poised to grow and add to the overall functional appeal of the products. Examples include ashwagandha, turmeric and holy basil.

Additionally, a balance between nostalgic taste and avant-garde experiences are on the rise, Kerry said. Nostalgic sweet flavors such as snickerdoodle, cookie dough and s’mores are expected to inspire emerging sweet flavors.

Comax beveragesComax Flavors in its recent trends report featured four collections comprising a variety of food and beverage applications, including beverages, plant-based applications, savory products, dairy and ice cream, candy, baked foods, and nutrition and performance products.

Drink to Your Health is a collection of better-for-you beverages such as flavored water, tea and mocktails. Functional beverages and other drinks with less sugar, fewer calories and more natural ingredients are trending. Flavors in the Drink to Your Health collection include avocado daiquiri, blackberry lilac tea cooler and harvest spritzer.

“To address consumers’ growing demand for flavorful, better-for-you beverages, Comax created the Drink to Your Health collection formulated for a variety of beverages,” said Catherine Armstrong, vice-president of corporate communications for Comax Flavors. “This better-for-you flavor collection can be used in several cold and hot beverage applications, such as still and sparkling water, R.-T.-D. tea, coffee, juice and mocktails.”

The Meatless Meals collection addresses consumers’ effort to eat less meat and incorporate more plant-based proteins into their diets, which has given rise to such diets as vegetarianism, veganism, “rawism,” “flexitarianism” and paleo. While health and wellness, environmental sustainability and animal welfare spur consumers on toward avoiding meat, they still crave the characteristic of meat such as texture, taste, flavor and aroma, Comax said.

Comax Meatless MealsThe multipurpose Meatless Meals flavor collection may be used in several plant-based proteins. Flavors include Asian stir fry, spicy fried chicken and street taco.

A Passage to India is a flavor collection that capitalizes on the younger demographic’s growing attraction to multicultural flavors, Comax said. These flavors, which include Indian vegetable curry, mango lassi and masala spiced donut, may be used in numerous applications, including savory products, dressings, sauces, dairy, ice cream, plant-based applications, baked foods and nutrition and performance products.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen Indian ingredients such as cardamom, coriander, curry and garam masala emerge,” Ms. Armstrong said. “Comax thinks Indian Food is ripe for the American palate and has created the A Passage to India collection.”

Comax’s Steeped in Culture collection taps into consumers’ interest in high-impact fermented and pickled flavors. The growing demand for these flavors is driven by consumers’ affinity for digestive health coupled with their interest in bold tastes, Comax said.

The Steeped in Culture collection may be used in applications, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, savory products, dressings, sauces and snacks. Flavors include five spice kombucha, pickled peach, and pickled beet and onion.

Symrise coffee flavorsSymrise, Teterboro, N.J., cited a millennial passion for coffeehouse beverages as the inspiration behind its recent flavor innovation. The company is offering a collection of coffee and tea flavors for dairy products, including milkshakes, yogurt and ice cream. The flavors mask any astringent or sour notes that are typically challenging in dairy formulations, Symrise said.

The company developed the collection after identifying a flavor trend deemed “Conserve, preserve. Shaken or stirred” from its consumer insight study. The trend involves processing, mixing and infusing sometimes opposing ingredients together to transform flavor profiles to create something new.

Combining unusual, rare ingredients and special sourcing with a unique process, creative composition and an intriguing story has been a successful strategy for dairy brands, Symrise said. Coffee flavors include hazelnut, amaretto, salted caramel, cold-brew mocha and hibiscus blossom chai latte. The tea flavors collection includes matcha, chocolate, vanilla Earl Grey and white peach.

“Consumers are looking for that premium experience in their food, which means pushing the boundaries on taste,” said Ian Thurston, senior category manager for sweet flavors at Symrise. “Our collection goes beyond what is expected in coffee and tea flavors, utilizing cafe favorites and unique tastes that pair perfectly with dairy indulgences.”