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Lionel Hitchens explores flavour trends in food and beverage

Flavour Trends for 2024/2025: Exploring the future of food and beverage

As we reflect on the diverse and ever-evolving landscape of the food and beverage sector over the past year, it’s exciting to predict the next trends that will shape this sector in 2024 and 2025.

Lionel Hitchen’s predictions for the future point to an exploration of bold and unconventional flavour combinations, incorporating global influences and regional ingredients. They foresee a fusion of tradition and innovation, as well as an emphasis on wellness-orientated offerings that cater for diverse dietary needs.

With advances in technology, they also expect the integration of virtual reality and augmented reality to enhance sensory experiences, revolutionising the way we perceive and enjoy food.

Umami: The continuing obsession

The umami obsession is set to continue in the coming years, as consumers embrace the rich and savoury flavours that umami brings to their culinary experiences. Flavours like tomatoes, roasted onion and garlic are getting their time to shine. There’s also lots of experimentation with sauces and condiments, which provide not just umami taste but also mouthfeel.

Mushrooms, in particular, are pushing to be the ‘it’ umami ingredient, finding their way into stocks, crisps, sauces and more. The versatility of mushrooms allows them to complement a wide range of products, adding depth and complexity to the overall flavour profile. Additionally, flavours from different cuisines, such as white miso and
chili, offer umami-rich options that are perfect for marinades and seasonings.

Bold flavour combinations for savoury cocktails are a coming trend in beverages

Exotic flavour combinations

Consumers are becoming increasingly adventurous and are willing to explore unusual flavour combinations in their food and beverages. The sweet category, in particular, is evolving to incorporate not only traditional sweet tastes but also umami, salty, sour, smoky and bitter profiles. This blending of flavours creates a unique sensory experience.

Imagine indulging in smoked vanilla ice cream with a hint of sea salt or desserts infused with jalapeños, sriracha and gochujang. The incorporation of exotic flavours, such as Buko Pandan, offers an exciting opportunity for food manufacturers to provide authentic and flavourful dessert options inspired by Southeast Asian cuisine.

The trend of embracing bold flavour combinations extends beyond the food sector. Savoury cocktails, like twisted dirty martinis and tomato-infused libations, are taking the world by storm. The possibilities are endless, with fat-washed spirits and innovative flavour combinations redefining the traditional cocktail experience.

Authentic cuisine: A journey through taste

With the rising cost of living, consumers are looking for authentic products and exciting gastronomic experiences that take them on a journey through taste. Cuisines such as Italian, Mexican and Southeast Asian have long been popular choices, offering a rich tapestry of flavours and culinary traditions. However, emerging cuisines like Caribbean and Pan-Mediterranean are also gaining recognition and captivating the palates of adventurous food enthusiasts.

Italian cuisine, with its timeless appeal, continues to be a favourite among consumers. The citrusy flavour of lemon finds its way into a variety of applications, from cocktails to marinades and desserts, adding a refreshing twist to familiar dishes. Another popular Italian taste is nduja, a rich and savoury ingredient that adds depth and complexity to traditional recipes.

Mexican cuisine, known for its bold and vibrant flavours, is also making its mark in the food industry. Tamarind and chilli, in particular, tap into the popularity of Mexican cuisine, offering versatile options for sauces, seasonings and even beverages.

NextGen: Revolutionising the industry

The new generation is driving a revolution in the food and beverage industry, leveraging the power of social media to shape trends and influence product development. With their creative culinary creations shared online, brands are taking note and translating these innovative ideas into new and exciting products.

In the beverage sector, they are looking for more health- conscious options. Alcohol-free tequilas and low-ABV tequila beverages are now offering more flavourful alternatives to the gin and vodkas that currently dominate the no or low-abv space.

  • 54% of adult consumers find drinks with low/no alcohol to be appealing
  • 51% of say the same about non-alcoholic versions of alcoholic cocktails
AI impacts the development of new beverage products

Artificial Intelligence: Enhancing the future

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a powerful tool transforming various industries, and the food and beverage sector is no exception. Brands are harnessing the capabilities of AI to enhance product development, improve customer experiences, and optimise different aspects of their business operations.

One area where AI is making a significant impact is in the development of new beverage products. By leveraging AI- powered tools like Chat GPT, brands can create unique recipes, generate product names, and even visualise images of the final products. AI also helps in selecting the best flavour profiles to cater to specific target audiences, ensuring the products resonate with consumer preferences.

While virtual tasting experiences are not yet possible, AI is bridging the gap between the virtual and real worlds by enhancing the sensory experience.

About Lionel Hitchen

At Lionel Hitchen, they understand the importance of staying ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving food and beverage industry. With their expertise in flavour innovation, we are committed to helping your business thrive in this dynamic landscape. Their range of Naturally Fabulous flavours and flavour ingredients are designed to cater to the latest trends and consumer demands.

Whether you are looking to develop new products, enhance existing ones, or create unique flavour profiles, their team of experts is here to guide you every step of the way.

Lionel Hitchen ingredients and flavours are available from Carst and Walker in Ireland, East Africa and South Africa. Contact us to find out more.

Principal: Lionel Hitchen