The 2023 flavor trends you might’ve missed

22 Dec 2023

Hype & Trend Signal
Trend Updates

As we say farewell to 2023, it's time to look back on the newest flavor hypes from last year and unwrap the delectable secrets of the coming year. From sour sensations to the sizzling fusion of sweet and spicy, consumer taste buds are in for a ride. Discover the flavor trends that made their debut in 2023 and will continue spreading in 2024, backed by insights from our Taste Tomorrow global consumer research.

1. Sour

The zingy, tart and tangy

Have you already spotted yuzu drinks, tart cherry desserts and citrus-heavy marinades? Sour flavors (with a slight bitterness) were very popular this year and will remain so in 2024. The Taste Tomorrow Semantic AI technology pointed out that the number of online conversations on raspberries increased by 44% this year, while conversations on grapefruit even grew with 103%.

Think of the Fraîcheur d’ Agrumes that Pastry Chef Clement Goyffon came up with for Pastry Arts Magazine. This pastry which translates to ‘Citrus Freshness’ is made out of grapefruit-strawberry jelly, blood orange cremeux and yuzu ganache. In such sour patisserie creations, the sourness offers contrast and balance to otherwise mostly sweet pastries. The tangy and tart elements also contribute to an interesting mouthfeel. Besides the light and refreshing sensation, sour and tart flavors provide, sour flavors are associated with freshness, naturalness and health. Exactly what today's consumers are after.

Discover more on the sour pastry trend >

2. Swicy

Heat meets sweet

65% of consumers worldwide now want to try combinations of tastes which are unusual at first, our Taste Tomorrow global consumer survey pointed out. Swicy perfectly hits that spot, combining ‘sweet’ and ‘spicy’ flavors. Think of Dolfin’s Dark chocolate bar with pink peppercorn or  the Mango & Chili macaron by Bakes Saigon. Those treats offer an unexpected flavor, but also a surprising sensory experience, as spicy flavors give a slight burning or tingling sensation. 

We can expect more out-of-the-box combinations in 2024 like sweet and bitter, sour and umami, and spicy and sour. That’s also what Shannon Cushen, director of marketing for Fuchs North America, predicts in Food Technology Magazine: “The bolder, the better when it comes to innovating with unusual and unexpected flavor pairings, so brands should look to the ingredients that are gaining in popularity for their complex and distinct flavor profiles.”

3. Nostalgic flavors

Comfort with a twist

This phenomenon – newstalgia – melds the desire for the cutting-edge with a yearning for the known and the classic. Nostalgic flavors with an updated twist offer consumers comfort, just as we see in the Taste Tomorrow classics continued trend. These flavors appease sentimental longings for a return to a bygone era consumers may not even have lived through. Think of the return of 90s children's snack Dunkaroos, consisting of a pack with cookies and glaze dip. The industrial bakery product with vintage packaging and a retro 90s website appeals to a much wider audience than just those who were school-going-kids in that era. The familiarity that newstalgic flavors, formats and recipes thrive on may come from actual memories or a past that people have only seen on TV.

As our worldwide Taste Tomorrow survey among 20.000 consumers in 50 countries pointed out, 73% of global consumers like to have a familiar element when trying new types of food. That proves why newstalgia is so successful: by offering something new that consumers know they will love. Think of creations based on well-known childhood cereals, such as the fruity pebbles waffles. Those toaster waffles that can be found in the supermarket frozen aisle have bursts of colorful fruity pebbles. The format is new, but the flavors are familiar and loved. 

Of course, the specific treats and flavors consumers have warm and fuzzy nostalgic feelings about vary greatly between continents and even countries. In North America, s’mores, peanut butter and jelly and doughnuts are highly nostalgic, while in South America that would be tres leches and pan dulce.

Discover more on the newstalgia trend > 

4. Fusion flavors

Experimentation through the lens of global cuisines, such as the trendy Korean-French patisserie

3 in 4 consumers likes to have a familiar element when trying new types of food, according to our Taste Tomorrow research. That’s why the combination of Korean cuisine and French patisserie was such a hit in 2023. When Junsik’s pastry chef Eunji Lee developed a trusted macaron flavored with Korean flavors as black soybean and perilla, people were beyond excited to try the exciting new pastry. 

Classic madeleines flavored with rich and salty soy sauce or a traditional Korean hwagwaja cake with crunchy walnut praline... Frontrunner pastry chefs with a Korean heritage are combining inspiration from their native cuisine with their classical French patisserie training. Consumers look for unique combinations of flavors and textures that make for a distinctive eating experience. People are especially keen for this experimentation through the lens of global cuisines. In 2024, we will see crossovers between other global cuisines rise to the same popularity as French-Korean patisserie did in 2023.

Discover more on the trendy Korean-French fusion patisserie >

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