The emotional toll of the Covid-19 pandemic has influenced flavor trends around the world. While food and drink have long been associated with positive emotional experiences, consumers are now particularly focused on experiencing joy, safety and even a sense of travel through what they consume.
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But that doesn’t mean consumers are turning to junk food to get a quick boost followed by a crash. Instead, they want more wholesome, fulfilling options, which often ties into other food and beverage trends, such as seeking ingredients that promote emotional well-being. They also want to explore other cultures in a safe way, such as by trying out new cuisines or dishes inspired by other parts of the world, without having to physically travel there.
In particular, as Symrise’s Global trendscope 2021+ report finds, consumers globally are seeking out food and drinks that fall under the following trends:
Consumers have pent-up demand to be out and about, but at the same time, many have gained a lasting appreciation for hanging out at home and making the home a safe haven. Almost half of Brits ages 16 and 24 years old say that the pandemic has resulted in them spending more quality time with friends and family, finds Mintel.
So, for times when people do decide to stay in and bond with friends and family, they still may choose to elevate their culinary experiences. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean these choices have to be complex. Think classic comfort foods and flavors but with a dash of decadence.
For example, in the United Kingdom, Teapigs’ line of indulgent tea includes varieties like chocolate flake (“black tea with a hint of dark chocolate”), and a limited-edition hot cross bun tea.
RELATED: Global Flavor Trends Inspired by Healthy Lifestyles
In addition to comforting flavors that help consumers feel safe, many people are also seeking out food and drinks that put a smile on their faces. Past trendscope reports have discovered bold, playful flavor pairings, but what stands out even more this year is the influence of social media.
At Dunkin’, the collaboration with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio on “The Charli” — a cold brew coffee with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirl syrup — represents this trend.
Another difference this year is that some of these fun, joyful creations also coincide with other trends around holistic health and an appreciation for nature. Look for more use of natural and sustainable ingredients to create vibrant dishes and drinks.
Dreaming of Travel
With the pandemic putting a pause on global travel for many, consumers are increasingly looking to travel by way of the food and drinks they consume. People realize that you don’t always have to hop on a plane to experience other parts of the world.
That has translated into more emphasis on niche cuisines and an appreciation for singular dishes and flavors from specific countries or regions. For example, the Southeast Asian ingredient pandan, a tropical plant with somewhat of a grassy taste, has been showing up more in cocktails at bars in the United States and Europe.
Another way this desire for culinary travel shows up is by taking dishes from other parts of the world and putting a local stamp on them. Some Japanese chefs, for instance, create Napolitana pizza with Japanese ingredients and local preparation techniques.
Even when the pandemic fully ends, many of the emotional experiences that consumers have gone through will have lasting effects. As such, they will likely continue to seek out food and drinks that provide emotional discoveries for years to come. That includes flavors that elevate their enjoyment when relaxing at home, make them happy when out and about, and help them explore their world through their palates.