HUNT VALLEY, MD. — Smoked cinnamon, chilies and chia seeds all could factor into upcoming flavor innovation, according to the McCormick Flavor Solutions’ Flavor Forecast released Oct. 14. The forecast focused on four themes: sweet and seasonal satisfaction, spicy revolution, global finds, and empowered eating and drinking.

McCormick Flavor Solutions, a business segment of Hunt Valley-based McCormick & Co., titled the forecast “Looking back to look forward” as this year marked the 20th anniversary of the annual forecast. Several flavors, including pumpkin pie spice, chamoy and turmeric, were mentioned this year after appearing in previous forecasts.

The theme of sweet and seasonal satisfaction will bring more blurred boundaries and the fusion of sweet with flavors ranging from heat to savory. Impacted applications could be desserts, baked foods, cereals and beverages.  Combinations could be smoked cinnamon and cardamom, pumpkin pie spice and coconut milk, and ancho chili pepper and hibiscus. Limited-time offerings available by season make the flavors resonate on an emotional level with customers, according to McCormick.

Pumpkin pie spice, which also made McCormick’s 2010 forecast in a trend called “always in season,” saw a 218% increase in US menu mentions between 2010 and 2020 and a 207% increase in food and drink retail product names between 2010 and 2019.

The spicy revolution theme could bring growth to multi-dimensional heat trends like chilies obsession, heat plus tang and sweet on pepper. Expect creative pairings of heat to appear in cocktails, baked foods and marinades. Aji amarillo, guajillo, Tien Tsin and chili de arbol are chilies to watch as they offer a unique level of heat and a distinctive flavor. Chamoy sauce from Mexico and sambal sauce from Southeast Asia could combine to offer heat plus tang. Sweet ingredients like syrups and exotic fruit could temper pepper’s bite.

Chamoy made the flavor forecast in 2014 in a trend called “Mexican world tour.” The condiment is made from pickled fruit, lime, spice and chilies.

Demand for global flavors will spark the third trend. Stuck at home and facing travel restrictions that are unpredictable, people will seek both global dishes in traditional form and more approachable fusions of flavor. One example is dukkah, which is a mix of toasted nuts and seeds from North Africa that may be salty, sweet or spicy. Dukkah pairs well with olive-oil dipped pita bread, vegetables and meat. Dukkah made the forecast in 2013 in a trend called “empowered eating.”

Other flavors from around the globe making the forecast this year are Brazilian tempero baiano seasoning, Mexican recados, Japanese izakaya, Filipino pinoy BBQ and Indian Kashmiri. Eastern Mediterranean ingredients, meanwhile, may match up with Western European flavors and feature ingredients like barberries and baharat seasoning.

Empowered eating and drinking refers to how people do not need to compromise on flavor when meeting nutritional needs. Ingredients like matcha, chia seeds, turmeric and flaxseed may bring versatility to meals, drinks and snacks. Vegetables like mushrooms, tomatoes and sweet potatoes are appearing more often in snacks, desserts, beverages and dips. Pigeon peas, cranberry beans and black beluga lentils also are part of this theme.

The 2016 forecast featured turmeric in a theme called “blends with benefits.” Turmeric over the past decade has experienced a 110% increase in US menu mentions and a 253% increase in food and drink retail products names.

Each year McCormick’s team of food scientists, culinary experts and flavor experts partner with culinary trendsetters and chefs to create the forecast.

“In 20 years of forecasting, we’ve identified trends that have and will shake up the way we cook, flavor and eat,” said Gary Patterson, executive research chef at McCormick & Co. “These discoveries impacted food and drink culture in the most exciting ways. From travel and health to pleasure and indulgence, it’s about how these things connect us to food and drinks while also offering sensory delight to create the ultimate experience.”