Flavour is the future
After years of trends set by sustainability or the process behind produce, the influencers for food and drink trends are changing. There’s been a shift to flavour-focussed approaches over the last 18 months.
Prioritising the sensory experience of food and drink is particularly timely post-Covid, since so many lost their senses of taste and smell due to the virus.
This means food and beverage trends will focus on how to maximise ingredients to meet our core tastes – sweet, sour, bitter and salty – and create future flavour favourites.
Here’s how we see the key trend drivers working in the drinks market:
Tart & Sour
Tart and sour flavours can elevate the drinking experience and suit a wide range of drinks.
These can be naturally derived – found in citruses and berries – or created through preparation techniques – fermenting, pickling or barrel-aging extracts extra flavours like these.
Citruses are first-choice fruits to easily develop a wide range of tart and sour drinks. Building on the 2022 drinks trend for blood orange, unusual or international citruses like yuzu, pomelo or bergamot can create premium soft drinks, sour beers or flavoured spirits.
Elderberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants will work for this beverage trend too, suiting wines, flavoured beers or cordials. Offering tart and earthy flavours and found in woodland across the UK, these edible berries not only offer bold future flavours but can be homegrown to support ongoing sustainability commitments too.
As a flavour enhancer, salt is a key component to many savoury foods, but it can also enhance sweet desserts and drinks. Since salt is tipped to be a key flavour for 2023, it’s inevitable it will spill into drinks too.
In cocktails salt either balances any bitterness or offers contrast to sweetness, and in beers it helps the sweetness of malt to cut through.
Salt in drinks isn’t an unfamiliar concept – think salt-rimmed Margarita glasses, or decadent salted caramel milkshakes. And we’ve already seen a trend for salty seaweed or algae-based drinks in 2022.
Offering health benefits and genuine sustainability credentials the latter have captured drinkers imaginations, with seaweed used in seltzers, beers and spirits. Where salt-led cuisine and beverages are tipped as big for 2023, seaweed flavoured cocktails could create salty drink trends.
Floral & Botanical
Of course, sweet flavours will always be drinkers’ favourites, as will premium options, meaning beverage trends for floral and botanical flavours will continue next year.
Creating both sweet and bitter flavours, these ingredients are diverse enough to work in all drinks types.
Florals like cherry blossom, hibiscus and elderflower are already popular in soft drinks and cocktails, creating aromatic and attractively-coloured drinks. Similarly, botanicals like vanilla, ginger or cinnamon and herbs like mint, rosemary and basil also suit flavoured spirits.
Gin is the naturally bedfellow to any of these ingredients, as an earthy spirit. Increasingly other spirits, particularly rum, are also recognized as good partners for florals and botanicals too. And to use these for future flavours that tap into other growing markets they could also be used in flavoured beers or ciders.
Boasting a range of health benefits, florals and botanicals will also suit continuing drink trends for wellness.
Heightening all senses
Other future flavours will build on the sensory experience of drinks. Drinks trends for smoky flavours will appeal to our sense of smell while hot and spicy flavour additions will give drinkers extra sensations.
Hot & Spicy
Heat and spiciness offer sensations, rather than tastes, but hot and spicy ingredients’ ability to elevate food and drinks means they’ll be a key beverage trend too.
For the drinkers seeking ‘more is more’ hot and spicy additions can be worked into a range of spirits. Ginger, chilli or pepper will particularly suit tequila, mezcal, rum or gin, giving drinks a real bite. Adding to the popularity of international food and drinks, ingredients like Japanese wasabi or Mexican habanero can be worked into cocktails or beers too.
While smoky is moreso a smell than a taste, smoking techniques or smoky-flavoured ingredients can be used to create aromatic cocktails, beers or ciders.
Smoky tastes combine both sweetness and bitterness so suit fruit-based drinks. With a naturally woody and earthy taste, cherries can be smoked to create a deep, sweet taste suited to flavoured beers or a rich syrup to add to spirits. Similarly, smoking apples to then pair with cinnamon and spirits will create complex flavoured cocktails or rich ciders.
We’ve a wealth of experience in drink development and formulation at Simpsons Beverages. Get in touch to discuss your plans for 2023 – we would love to hear from you.