This is part 1 of a 4 part Symrise series examining the flavor outlook for 2015 from the perspective of sweet, savory, and beverages.
Symrise is pleased to present a four part series on the flavor outlook for 2015. In this series, we will go from sweet to savory, then take a tour of what’s going on in the world of beverages and finally we will be exploring the culinary scene. There is one thing that is very clear: following the years of the economic downturn and now into the improving economy and the renewed interest in world cuisines, the flavor scene is exploding. The trends are going very modern – and also reaching back to the most ancient.
Old Sweeteners to Re-emerge
In the world of sweet, we will be seeing renewed interest in sweeteners that have been long flying under the radar or limited in their scope.
In 2015 we expect to see maple sugar take center stage. It has definitely broken out from a regional New England curiosity. It will not be just a sugar molded into traditional maple leaf shapes. According to Metronews.ca (December 27, 2015):
“The whole world is hugging the maple tree as it turns its back on sugar. This sweetener shows up in everything from yogurt to donuts, in spreads and coffees — the humble sap is taking its place in the limelight.”
We would expect an uptick in new product introductions based on maple flavors. The maple flavor will not only be used in traditional and non-traditional desserts and baked goods, but savvy marketers might also want to test the hot beverage area, sandwich spreads and dairy. The 2015 forecasts saw a decline in Greek Yogurts, and more maple variations in in the dairy category could help to keep yogurt and other probiotic drinks relevant.
Another sweetener that has gained in stature is coconut sugar. We must differentiate the coconut sugar trend from the contested health benefits of unsaturated coconut oil. The International Food Information Council stated (December 19, 2014):
“We’ve reached ‘peak coconut’: For the online food and nutrition community, 2014 was a year-long trip to the tropics. Misinformation touting the benefits of coconut oil is prevalent in social media…”
Indeed coconut oil has been touted as curing an entire range of maladies. The research on those attributes is questionable. However, coconut as an ingredient and a sweetener is expected to remain very strong.
Food Business News in their article: “10 Trends to Drive Retail in 2015,” project:
“Whether it is coconut oil, flakes or flour, the ingredient is going to continue to be popular in 2015… it most likely won’t become the primary fat of choice in households due to its saturated fat content, but it will definitely be an “it” oil. Coconut will also continue to be used as an addition to bars and baked goods.”
The coconut sweetener trend was further echoed by the foodservice website App.com, in their online article: A Preview of Dining 2015.
“As consumers continue their hunt for ‘healthy’ sweeteners, coconut sugar is making its way onto the scene. Also called coconut palm sugar, coconut sugar is the sap of the coconut palm tree that has been boiled and then dehydrated…the Paleo food trend is helping to fuel the coconut craze. ‘Besides coconut water, we're seeing a lot of innovative uses, such as wraps and even coconut 'bacon.' "
On additional note about an old standby sweetener, honey. An interesting 2015 trend was detailed in Business Insider (December 11, 2014):
“Sriracha will be replaced by honey-centric sauces (like hot honey)…” Huff Post Taste in their piece on New Food Trends for 2015 talked of honey being infused with peppers. It would appear that in 2015, honey blends could be used as a background to complement stronger ethnic flavors.
A Return to the Old
In terms of sweet, 2015 is projected to be a year of return, but with a healthy and/or artisanal twist.
Huff Post Living (December 15, 2014) in reviewing several food trends for 2015, is very enthusiastic about brittles:
“Next year, sweet tooth’s can look forward to revisiting old-fashioned desserts and candies, most notably brittle, prefixed with adjectives like artisanal and homemade.”
Brittle flavors typically combine caramel with many times of nuts including peanuts, pecans and almonds. Throughout the many trends we have seen projected for 2015, pistachios keep appearing on nearly every list. Of course, other cuisines display many additional brittle variants such as adding sesame seeds or delicious styles of almond Roca.
In terms of nostalgic sweets the forecasters see a renewed popularity in shaved ice desserts. The website, GoLocalProv.com, in their 2015 forecasting piece projects a resurgence in home-made and artisanal ice creams. A major difference between frozen desserts of the past and forward looking trends is that they will be made with reduced fats and more fruit flavors.
Look for a resurgence in cookies as well however, the food industry will begin to see the continuation of cookies reimagined in a whole new form. Coca Cola Journey (September 24, 2014), predicts a continuation in the meteoric rise of the cookie butters. These are sweet spreads with ground pieces of cookie combined with the butters. New flavors include oatmeal cookie, gingerbread, graham cracker, banana, S’mores and chocolate chip.
2015 projects to be a sweet year where product developers are reaching back with their concepts, but with forward thinking variations. We will see more natural sweeteners, coconut and maple sugar based concepts and the greater usage of natural juice flavors to traditional desserts and confection.