Tastes associated with travel and nostalgia to grow in popularity

Tuesday 12 January, 2021

COVID-19 impacts food and beverage trends across the world

Kerry, the world’s leading taste and nutrition company, has today released its 2021 Taste Charts which predict the taste and flavours that will be popular in the coming year. Kerry experts have predicted that COVID-19 will continue to impact our taste buds with traditional tastes undergoing a resurgence as people seek comfort in their food and beverages. Consumers around the world are gravitating toward comforting and familiar tastes, with classics such as brownie, s’mores, apple pie, custard and cream soda expected to increase in popularity.

The research from Kerry has identified the top taste trends for 2021:

  • Globally, the popularity of international cuisines is expected to surge as consumers travel the world with their taste buds through exotic flavours
  • This is balanced by a desire for familiarity as consumers crave sweet treats incorporating comforting flavours and taking inspiration from traditional desserts
  • Health and wellbeing will continue to be a consumer priority with more people than ever expected to try fermented foods, superfood flavours and health-promoting botanicals such as turmeric and basil in their foods and beverages

Consumers gravitating towards familiarity is not uncommon during times of uncertainty. The craving for comfort food became more pronounced in 2020 than in previous years, with one in three consumers eating and drinking habits reverting to more familiar tastes and this is expected to continue in the upcoming year. American consumers are expected to opt for more savoury favourites such as Mac & Cheese, Pizza and Taco based flavours whereas European consumers will crave the tastes of traditional desserts including banana split, apple pie and chocolate eclairs.

2021 will also see consumers craving the taste of travel and adventure, with the popularity of international cuisines increasing in response to heightened travel restrictions. It is expected that the most popular cuisines in 2021 will be Korean, Indian, Thai, Spanish and Greek with flavours such as Cumin, Greek Gyros, Wasabi and Balsamic identified as likely to become increasingly popular across savoury snacks and foods. Notably, European consumers are looking to the East as ingredients such as seaweed, kimchi and miso expected to be amongst the most popular new flavours of 2021.

As COVID-19 continues to impact on daily life, consumers will be increasingly health conscious, selecting ingredients and flavours that promise additional health benefits. Fermented foods, such as kombucha and sauerkraut and ‘superfood’ ingredients including turmeric, cacao and basil will continue to grow in popularity. Consumers are also demonstrating increased concern about the sourcing of food and ingredients, opting increasingly for options that have been produced locally.

John Savage, CEO of Taste at Kerry said that: “We are predicting that there will be two diverse trends evolving over the coming year, both of which are being driven by COVID-19. On the one hand we are anticipating that tastes and flavours associated with familiarity and nostalgia will come back with people looking for comfort and reassurance through tastes such as apple pie, brownies and custard. We are also anticipating a health and wellbeing drive with kombucha, very strong teas and vinegars increasing in popularity due to people wanting to be healthier.

“Our global team of Kerry Insights and Taste experts have provided valuable insights on mainstream, key, up and coming, and emerging flavours and ingredients from around the world. This proprietary expert perspective into the flavours and ingredients shaping the industry—across the sweet, beverage, savoury, and salty snack categories—helps Kerry’s customers craft a clear, research-backed roadmap for creating new products, or revitalising existing choices in ways that will delight, surprise and excite consumers.”

The 2021 Kerry Taste Chart for US, Canadian, European, Latin American (Spanish), Brazilian (Portuguese), and the Asia Pacific, Middle Eastern and African markets, can be downloaded here.

Global insights

North America

  • The United States and Canada has witnessed a surge in snacking with comfort food at the top of mind. Cheese-y and smoky flavours are expected to continue to be popular as well as savoury snacks inspired by favourite foods such as pizza, mac & cheese and tacos.
  • Whilst still reaching for familiar flavours, North Americans are looking at ways to upscale their choices in 2021, such as selecting exotic varieties of vanilla like boreal and premium and indulgent chocolate flavours such as salted caramel.

Europe

  • Traditional sweet flavours such as chocolate, nut and cinnamon are expected to remain key in 2021 as consumers crave familiarity, with sweet treats inspired by traditional desserts such as banana split, apple pie and chocolate eclairs expected to increase in popularity.
  • Driven by health concerns, fermentation will become prominent across several product categories, with vinegar, kombucha and pickled flavours becoming a top trend in 2021.

Asia, Middle East & Africa

  • Demand for hot and spicy flavours to continue to dominate in 2020, with a notable increase expected in the popularity of South American flavours such as Habanero Chili and Chipotle.

Latin America

  • The pandemic has boosted consumer concern around health in addition to mental and emotional wellbeing. This has meant that immunity enhancing foods, such as ginger, vegetables and citrus foods, have increased in popularity alongside indulgent flavours that bring enjoyment such as lemon cream pie, churros and cheese.

Methodology

Kerry’s Taste Charts are compiled through comprehensive analysis of consumer purchase patterns, retail product performance, foodservice influences and endorsements from the company’s internal culinary, beverage, and mixology experts to predict tastes for the coming year. Kerry’s Trendspotter™, a proprietary artificial intelligence tool that predicts food trends from global social media content, was used to provide additional perspective, inspiration, and validation of flavours and ingredients influencing the marketplace.