Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Flavor & The Menu
January 10, 2023

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Perhaps what is most exhilarating about pulling together each year’s Top 10 Trends is the unveiling of an intrinsic throughline that is bigger than each individual trend. When studied as a whole, trends not only resonate with today’s consumers but embody them. In general, trends are a manifestation of ourselves, of our need states and preferences. And while today’s menu trends are overwhelmingly driven by younger consumers, the characteristics of this year’s Top 10 Trends have strong appeal to all demographics, even this Gen Xer. Before you flip through these pages, consider the overarching themes evident in this year’s set of trends:

Katie AyoubA special thanks to Managing Editor Katie Ayoub for not only her monumental efforts on this annual Top 10 Trends issue but for her tireless dedication to Flavor throughout the year. In spite of challenges and a seemingly insurmountable workload, she keeps things humming with optimism and grace.Asian countries and subregions remain an abundant source of menu and flavor trends, in particular those that appeal to younger consumers. More than half of the 10 trends we’re covering here originate from Asian countries—from Okinawan black sugar to Thai mash-ups—and menu developers would find it a worthy endeavor to look deeper into the potential of Asia’s many bright, bold and colorful ingredients.

Nostalgic flavors lend complexity and entice trial: Within these trends, you’ll notice a handful of flavors with deep nostalgic ties livening up both food and beverage items across menus today. “Neo-nostalgic” ingredients like malted milk powder bring comforting, nuanced flavor, while familiar, everyday items like mustard easily coax diners along on a new flavor avenue.

Transparency of ingredients: Menu developers know that today’s consumers are much more clued into the backstory of food and beverages, and more flavor and menu trends reflect this growing interest. Transparency, origin, storytelling and general well-being are very much tied to modern consumers’ value proposition, and menu callouts that reflect this win the day.

Beverages carry trends: Younger consumers’ comfort level with and access to an expansive variety of beverages in foodservice settings are reinforcing this category’s prominent position as a trend carrier. From vibrantly colored coffees to cider slushies, the drink category’s ability to further trends is quite remarkable.

Consumers’ changing need states and patterns are bringing about a shift in dining hours, spaces and styles, and in doing so, opening up growth opportunities for operators. Savvy foodservice establishments are creating new experiences for guests while providing solutions to the many industry constraints.

As we serve up our 2023 Top 10 Trends, we hope you glean ideas not just about flavor- and menu-building opportunities, but also about the modern foodservice consumer.

Cathy Nash Holley
Cathy Nash Holley
[email protected] | @GetFlavor

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