Cultural expression has always been shown through shared moments of indulging in delicious food. From family traditions to childhood comfort foods, food trends in 2023 have begun shifting towards a pursuit of that emotional connection via multicultural delicacies. As food flavor trends change, we're getting the benefit of a blend of global flavors and premium ingredients through emotional discoveries and multicultural flavors. 

Today, we're exploring how eating for comfort is shifting food trends toward a new emphasis on diversity and cultural experiences. In this part of our deep-dive series, we'll look at one of many key themes in 2023 top flavor trends. Let's check out what leading industry experts are saying about emotional discoveries within the food service and retail industry.


2023 Emotional Discoveries Trends

Over the last few years, food trends have shifted pretty heavily. With more transparency regarding ingredients, premium meat alternatives for veganism, and even classic junk food being reimagined as gourmet junk food with global flavors, there have been quite a few changes in what consumers are looking for. Emotional discoveries are one of the key food trends that we're starting to see as a result of consumers wanting heightened connection and memorable experiences.

Cultural background, family traditions, and city culture play a large part in the growth of this trend. We're discovering a few common themes that combine emotions and food with consumer desires. Let's look at the top three themes that are leading these food flavor trends. 


Autobiographical Diaspora Cooking

There's something special about those homemade meals and Mom's cooking, which makes it a delight to see comfort food trends exploring the flavors and styles of multigenerational kitchens. With "hyphenated Americans" blending cultural and generational recipes, there's a sort of mosaic approach taking over food trends. Childhood favorites are blending with regional and global flavors, reinventing many traditional dishes. 


Multicultural Mashup Comfort

The basics of comfort foods are pretty standard, but a multicultural mashup of spices and seasonings can make a world of difference. Top comfort picks like fried chicken, pizza, pasta, desserts, pastries, BBQ, and sandwiches all offer "kidult" comfort. To offer comfort while also exploring new trends, these treats are getting a flavorful makeover. Classic favorites find a playful twist with global flavors, enhancing their existing tastiness. The top cultural influences here come from Mexican, Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese cultures. 



While global flavors are finding a new home on North American tables, there's also a big push for a regional focus on specialized and singular dishes. Rather than altering the full menu with updated flavors, individual regional classics are highlighted. For example, modern and pre-Hispanic Mexican specialties like tortilla plates are being prepared with nixtamalized corn to preserve ancestral processes. This isn't Tex-Mex, and it's also not your standardized American take on a classic delicacy. 

In a sense, the blend of multicultural cuisine is pivoting food trends to give consumers the best of both worlds. With a modern-day take on traditional dishes, we're creating new flavor trends that make perfect comfort foods.


Related: Exploring Multicultural Consumption


Top Ingredients with Emotional Ties

Southeast Asian and Mexican cooking styles are seamlessly elevating the flavorful experience of eating for comfort with every bite. Ingredients that are gaining popularity and becoming a new comfort food for many include kimchi, sauerkraut, kaffir lime, jackfruit, mochi, and fish sauce. These cultural favorites are being incorporated into "American" formats of traditional and new dishes. 

Pizza is a great example of using an emotional food trend to showcase bold flavors with savory new ingredients. We're taking the nostalgic connection to pizza and using the base of the dish to add ingredients like Thai curry to create a delicious fusion that's both old and new. Other ingredient changes to eating pizza as a comfort food are adding pad thai chicken, Thai basil pork, or khao soi for extra flavor.

With other comfort foods such as fried chicken, we're seeing an increase in jerk spices. Getting creative with the flavors, the obsession with this comfort food is going beyond Korean, Japanese, and Filipino cultures to bring global favorites to North America. 


Flavor Profiles

With emotional food trends, there's no one direction to go when it comes to flavor. Whether you're looking for something sweet, savory, or spicy, or you just want a "kidult" experience that feels nostalgic, the 2023 top flavor trends are giving us all of the above. From artisanal adult drink mixes to ice creams, there's no shortage of sweet and savory flavors making their way into trending products primarily for their nostalgic and emotional meaning. In fact, 34% of 400 operators surveyed noted that nostalgia is the leading component behind food trends. Those childhood flavors are paving the way to 2023 emotional discoveries in food service and ingredients. 

Below you'll find a short list of some of the most popular ingredients and flavors consumers are enjoying currently.


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Sweet Treats

  • Star anise

  • Fish sauce

  • Szechuan

  • Za'atar

  • Masala blends

Savory Flavors

  • Mochi, ube, pandan, and miso

  • Tumeric

  • Tamarind

  • White rabbit

  • Tapioca

Thirst-Quenching Beverages

  • Chamoy tajin

  • Orgeat

  • Crimson berry

  • Tiki cocktails

  • Moroccan mint 

Overall, we can expect to see more fusion cuisines trending in the future. Multicultural growth is leading the food and beverage industry by making it feel (and taste) like home for many consumers. Emotional food trends on the rise will continue taking classic junk food favorites and reinventing them with a flavorful blend of global diversity. 


Emotion and comfort food are key themes in current food and beverage trends across North America, but they're not the only leading ingredients behind today's trends. Curious about what other components are causing a shift in food trends lately? Want to learn whether bitter or sweet flavor profiles are more popular and why? Check out more content from our miniseries on 2023 food trends for the latest information and most up-to-date statistics. 


To learn more about our products and insights, get in touch with our team at Symrise today, Contact us here!

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