When the weather warms, we shed our woolen layers and say goodbye to the hearty comfort foods of fall and winter, turning our attention to the bright, new flavors of spring and summer. Stews are traded in for ceviche, and hot toddies are set aside in favor of zesty seltzers.
2022 is seeing some interesting trends emerge, and the biggest shifts seem to be tied to two main elements: exotic flavors and functional food. This is really no surprise, considering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The spread of coronavirus brought the value of personal health into sharp focus, leading consumers to seek food and beverage options that did more to boost immune, gastric, and even mental health. In addition, months of being stuck at home generated a desire to experience the world in new ways, including through international flavors and cuisine.
Even though we’ve largely emerged from imposed hibernation, the desire to explore culinary adventures hasn’t waned. Which flavor trends are poised to dominate in the summer of 2022?
Citrus flavors never really go out of style, and the first thing people reach for when they feel a cold coming on is OJ. With that being said, an exploration of exotic citrus has been underway for a while now, with new flavors from across the globe entering the mainstream.
Yuzu has been on the rise, and that trend looks to continue. Blood orange is another unique citrus that will remain popular heading into summer, with tons of beverage lines and summer desserts featuring the red-hued fruit.
Options like kumquat, clementine, tangerine, and calamansi lime are also starting to pop up. This is likely partially due to the romance with exotic versions of recognizable flavors, but it also has to do with the demand for functional ingredients that boost immunity. Packed with vitamin C, citrus fruits are a great option to meet both desires.
Starfruit is another fruit making a splash for summer. Commonly mistaken for a citrus fruit, it’s actually a berry, but it shares some traits with popular citrus: It offers a sweet-sour flavor profile, and it’s a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants.
New twists on classic lemonade are likely to dominate both adult and non-alcoholic beverage markets. Combos like strawberry and raspberry lemonade are nothing new, but look for options like mango, guava, and blueberry to gain momentum.
Bright, zesty, spicy ginger is an ideal flavor enhancer for sweet summer fare. No longer relegated to merely cleansing the palate between sushi rolls, it’s already popping up in health and energy drinks, canned cocktails, upscale ginger beers, and even baked goods.
The resurgence of popularity could have something to do with ginger’s association with gut health. This flavorful root supports digestion, soothing the intestinal tract and aiding motility. This, in turn, alleviates bloating and gas that result when food moves too slowly and starts to ferment.
Edible flowers aren’t exactly new, but they’ve become a more popular ingredient during the pandemic. When added to food and beverages, fragrant florals can dramatically change the flavor profile of traditional recipes, creating new experiences for diners while frequently increasing health benefits.
Hibiscus has emerged as a major flavor trend for 2022, showing up in a big way in the beverage market, in particular. Hibiscus water, juices, and cocktails have become ubiquitous overnight and will remain a popular choice for the summer.
Jams and sauces featuring hibiscus are also on the rise. High in antioxidants, hibiscus has been linked to benefits like heart health and reduced inflammation.
Also gaining interest is elderflower, which we’re starting to see added to beverages. The popularity of elderflower is not surprising, since it has long been an additive in medicines used to fight cold and flu symptoms. Fresh and fruity with tropical undertones, elderflower pairs well with a range of fruit flavors.
What about spice? Consumers have been turning up the heat on recipes since the pandemic started and clamoring for new flavor profiles all the while.
Relatively unknown yaji looks to be the latest addition, with spicy, smoky, umami flavors tied to a blend of garlic, onion, ginger, paprika, chiles, and peanuts. This versatile, savory spice is practically tailor-made for summer grilling. Whether you’ve got meat or veggies on the menu, this spice blend offers a new twist on familiar flavors.