Harissa: The next sriracha?
A staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking, harissa is a spicy, aromatic paste of hot chili peppers, garlic, olive oil and such spices as cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. The flavor is expected to expand in the United States, driven by the continued popularity of ethnic cuisines, particularly among younger consumers. Additionally, Ms. Dornblaser noted, North African food is still relatively unique to the market, which may appeal to many consumers seeking new flavor experiences.
A potential caveat of harissa is its hot and spicy flavor profile, which Ms. Dornblaser said may be “attractive to some, but a turnoff to others.”
The majority of new product introductions featuring harissa are sold in Europe, but several North American launches have taken the flavor beyond its primary category of sauces. Examples include a chicken and couscous frozen entree from Wicked Kitchen in the United States and harissa hummus rippled potato chips from Loblaw’s President’s Choice brand in Canada.
“As you identify new flavors to try and see if they work for your portfolio, do not be afraid to move the flavor beyond that home category where it lives,” Ms. Dornblaser said.