Foodie culture storms on, with the love for high-quality, creative food and beverage options as the top interest for so many consumers in North America.

Yet as lifestyles change, consumers aren’t necessarily following the typical “three meals a day” doctrine but are instead looking for artisanal, gourmet small bites throughout the day. That means that consumers want premium snacks and sweets that tend to be more filling, wholesome and healthier than in the past, and they are willing to pay more for higher quality food.

These interests correlate closely with the movement toward healthy living and natural goodness, as noted in Symrise Flavor North America’s annual food and beverage trends report, 2020+ Top Trends for North America. At the same time, Premium Indulgence also focuses on the distinctive beliefs of consuming gourmet products as in-between meals and enjoying an exciting and exquisite experience, even at casual restaurants.

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The COVID-19 pandemic could have some impact on the amount consumers are willing to spend on premium food and beverages, but at the same time, these offerings could appeal to consumers looking to experience an indulgence when other options like travel might be limited.

In particular, the following flavor trends could make a big impact in 2020 and beyond:

Spice & Salt Meets Sweet
The sweet and salty mix has long been an enjoyable culinary combo, but this year, look for bolder, spicier and smokier flavors to join in on the salty and sweet fun. In doing so, chefs, mixologists, packaged food companies and others can create more premium, gourmet snacks and sweets.

For example, while savory/sweet pairings like sesame or black pepper ice cream have caught in years past, 2020 will take an even spicier turn with harissa and other North African spices incorporated into more desserts. Similarly, look for wasabi paired with sweets like white chocolate, as well as curry powder making its way into cookies and other baked goods.

In addition to these spicy flavors, look for new variations of salty/sweet combos to become more popular in 2020, such as with smoked salt adding depth to desserts. Mediterranean, North African and Asian-Pacific flavors will also make their way to North America via the salted citrus trend. For example, salt + lemon, salt + lime and salt + grapefruit can all add a refreshing, natural taste to items like yogurt and ice cream.

PART 1: Symrise’s North American Top 10 Flavor Trends for 2020 and Beyond

Incredible Spreadables
Hitting on a convergence of trends such as chefs preparing their own condiments in-house and interest in healthy, plant-based dishes, 2020 will see an expansion of shareable, often vegan spreads. Premium dips can form a filling snack, be used as an upgrade on sandwiches, enhance salad dressings and more.

In particular, look for more dips coming from Levantine cuisine (e.g., Israeli, Lebanese, Turkish), including tahini variations as well as lesser-known condiments like amba, a dip made from pickled mangoes.

Bold flavors from Asia and Mexico will also be used to bring tangy, smoky and spicy dips to more plates in 2020. For example, chintestle, a smoked chile paste from Oaxaca, Mexico can add depth to dishes. Look for new, creative varieties of bean dips to become popular too.

Prime Classics
While consumers are generally drinking less alcohol than in the past, there’s still plenty of demand for fun, functional drinks, both with and without booze.

For example, tropical cocktails could see an upswing, with the added twist of fermented fruit. 2020 will also see new techniques and infusions in categories like hard soda, craft beer and coffee, as consumers look for high-quality beverages that have more flavor and promote wellness. The espresso tonic, for instance, provides a cocktail-like, indulgent taste without the alcohol.

On the more adventurous side, mixologists are turning to ingredients like white soy sauce and white ponzu as a way to add a salty, umami flavor to drinks like martinis and bloody marys.
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2020 is shaping up to be a difficult year in many ways, but through these food and beverage trends, consumers have an opportunity to go on premium, indulgent journeys. These emerging flavor trends can bring both comfort and wellness to consumers, while giving chefs, mixologists and other food and beverage stakeholders a chance to offer premium products at a premium price.

Want to learn more about the other Symrise North American flavor trends? Continue reading the 2020+ Top Trends Report series:
Symrise’s North American Top 10 Flavor Trends for 2020 and Beyond
3 Flavor Trends Inspired by Healthy Living
Top Flavors Inspired by Natural Goodness
8 Flavor Trends of 2020 That Inspire Emotional Discoveries

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