2022 Flavor Market Trends: Collaborations, Plant-Based, And More!
With 2021 in our rear-view mirrors and a new year on our minds, innovation, collaboration, and exciting new flavors and products are coming into view. Before we can jump into development, it’s always a good idea to research and see what consumers are craving. Today we’re talking about the hottest and most in-demand flavor trends in 2022. From collaborations to the plant-based boom and so much more, this article will give you the 411 on everything flavor-related that you need to know before you roll up your sleeves and get to work.
With health top of mind, consumers are reevaluating the products they consume on a day-to-day basis. Beyond simply buying things based on taste, people want their products to serve the overall well-being of their body and mind.
The demand for sugar alternatives and reductions continues to drive consumer interest. According to research from Mordor Intelligence, the “global sugar substitute market is growing at a CAGR of 5.6%” between the forecast period of 2019 and 2024. Increased excitement in health means decreased sugar consumption. However, that doesn’t mean consumers want to lose the flavors they love.
Queue sugar alternatives.
The fall of sugar has opened the door for natural sugar alternatives, such as allulose and stevia, to step in and make themselves known. Sugar alternatives are attractive to consumers because they offer sweetness without the adverse sugar side effects that can wreak havoc on the body.
This past year we’ve seen some amazing brand collaborations, and we don’t see them going away any time soon. Between the Wendy’s and Pringles, Pepsi and Peeps, and the Coffee-Mate and Snickers collabs, consumers are drooling over nostalgic mash-ups that transport them back to yesteryear. In a world riddled with a global health crisis, it’s the trusted comfort that consumers are falling back to the good ole days when the going gets rough.
According to the Good Food Institute, “the retail market for plant-based foods is worth $7 billion, up from $5.5 billion in 2019.” The plant-based food boom results from a few global movements: the increased concern over health and wellness, the climate crisis, and animal welfare. Additionally, there has been an explosion of competition as more and more products and brands enter this subset of the flavor industry, creating increased media attention and giving consumers better and better products, making the jump to a plant-based diet tastier. As we continue into 2022, we do not doubt that the number of plant-based products will continue to expand.
Alcohol Beverage Trends
The alcohol industry is ever-expanding as brands innovate and serve up new and improved options. Here are a few alcohol trends we’ll see thriving this year:
In 2019, the hard seltzer industry exploded. What started with White Claw (which quadrupled in sales, from $154.8 million in 2018 to $627.2 million in 2019) has quickly turned into an entire grocery aisle devoted to these flavored drinks. Much in part due to an uptick in health-conscious drinkers, hard seltzers offer a low-calorie, low-sugar beverage with a similar alcohol content to a light beer.
This is an opportunity for flavor creators to really take charge and compete in one of the hottest markets in 2022. Using a robust flavor wheel to depict the exact flavors you’re after, you can create your own space amongst the market.
Cannabis and Non-Alcoholic Beverages
As more and more consumers reevaluate their lifestyle to better align with health and wellbeing, we see a massive rise in cannabis and non-alcoholic beverages. Sales skyrocketed from $67.8 million in 2019 to $95.2 million in 2020. Brands are becoming more and more creative with their products and flavors. Product developers have been able to successfully innovate unique, weed-infused takes on the classic, well-loved flavors.
As the cannabis market continues to expand and federal and state-level laws continue to relax around marijuana, there is more than enough reason to predict continued expansion within these markets.
Similarly, the flavored water market is an area in which we see success continuing to thrive. People still love socializing with their friends, but many would prefer to nip their hangover in the bud by simply avoiding alcohol altogether. Having flavored water in hand offers a bit of familiarity and comfort similar to that of a beer or cocktail in social situations. Some restaurants offer more mocktail options, too, and we wouldn’t be surprised if these made their way into the ready-to-drink space.
Infusing international flavors is a fun way for brands to tap into a broad audience appeal to the global food flavors market. Here are some of the top globally inspired flavors for the coming year:
Touted as Southeast Asia’s best-kept secret, pandan is often found in delicious dessert products. This tropical plant is the perfect earthy complement to sweet treats and is commonly used to wrap savory foods before cooking.
Chaat masala is a delicious spice mix from South Asia and India. Commonly used to spice up a fruit salad or sprinkled over savory comfort foods like potatoes and eggs, chaat masala involves hints of dried ginger, mango powder, cumin, coriander, and black pepper. It’s showing up on menus everywhere and is even hitting mainstream retailers’ grocery aisles like Trader Joe’s.
Brought to you by Starbucks-lovers everywhere, chai tea is making waves among the mainstream flavor markets. Traditional, true chai has ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, cardamom, and cloves. However, it’s often muddled up with sweet winter-themed sweetened drinks with hints of spice and everything nice. Chai literally translates to “tea” in Hindi. With deep roots in India, chai is more or less a lifestyle there rather than a beverage of choice. However, it’s quickly seeping into Western culture and is becoming a tried and true fall and winter classic.
Top Flavors of 2022
So what flavors can you expect to make an impact on consumers? Here is our list of 2022 trending flavors ready for any application.
Citrus is a genus of flowering trees that bode delicious, refreshing fruits. And while citrus seems to always top flavor lists, there are over 100 varieties of citrus fruit! Grapefruit has been standing out among the rest. On the rise since Spring 2021, grapefruit will undoubtedly continue to be a mainstay in iced beverages and stick pack powders.
Blood orange is also a fan favorite right now. Known for its vitamin C content and bright color, blood orange is a popular winter fruit that will continue to rise.
We can’t talk about citrus without noting lemon and yuzu. The citrus family’s most popular flavor is still beloved in this category, with lemon taking center stage and its distant cousin, yuzu following closely behind.
Fruity is always a fan favorite. When we talk about trending fruity flavors, three specific fruit categories are tropical, berry, and stone fruits.
The demand for pineapple, guava, and dragonfruit stands out among the tropical fruits. These are the flavors of the tropical vacations we all know, love, and greatly missed this past year as travel restrictions and the global pandemic put a damper on our plans. These flavors are popular because they remind consumers of the taste of vacations past.
When it comes to berries, strawberries remain on top. Its sweet, juicy freshness is unparalleled. However, other berries like acai, mixed berry, and cranberry are close runner-ups and rising in popularity.
Stone fruits are a delicious category to dive into, and consumers are loving apricots and cherries right now. Ripe peach flavors follow close behind. And we can’t forget about plum, a classic flavor that we think has some high potential this year.
And while people may not want sugar in their diets, sweet treats still win. With new development on the alternative sugar front, health-focused sweet treats are popping up left and right. Starting in Fall 2021, maple has been a flavor we’re seeing again and again. Since it pairs well with proteins, consumers will continue to keep maple in their back pocket as a tasty treat.
Toffee is one of the fastest-growing “premium” flavors on the market right now. This sweet caramel and chocolate mashup has taken off. It is quickly becoming a household staple in pantries nationwide, especially around fall and winter when temperatures drop and you begin to crave a sweet treat.
Dark chocolate continues to gain recognition on menus and searches on Google, and it’s no surprise why. This decadent and slightly bitter flavor offers both indulgence and health benefits, appealing to the rise of health-conscious consumers who still crave a sweet treat every once in a while.
Sweet Like Candy
We can’t forget about the popular candy flavors on the market right now. Gummy is one of the most recognizable flavors and is currently making a comeback among cannabis-infused treats and brands expanding their pre-workout lines.
And if you’re going gummy, there has to be a sour counterpart. Sour is usually one of the tremendous gummy flavors that offer a zing from citric and sometimes malic acids. Sour can make an excellent specialty line or addition to already popular candy treats on the market.
Similar to the nostalgia consumers crave from brand collaborations, cotton candy is a sweet flavor that evokes nostalgic and timeless memories. And while cotton candy may be quick to dissolve in your mouth, it’s not dissolving from the flavor market any time soon.
With so many delicious flavors ready to fly this year, it’s time to get developing. If you’re unsure where to begin or which direction is the best for you, we’re here to help. From concept to commercialization to innovative flavor development, Flavor Insights is here to help you and your brand thrive. Contact us today!