According to McCormick & Co’s 2018 Flavor Forecast, the food industry can expect the coming year to be the year of international flavors. As more consumers turn towards exotic cuisine, it is in the best interest of food manufacturers to invest in these flavors in order to be prepared for the year ahead.
“Consumers are seeking out new global flavors and dishes, craving multiple tastes, tapas style, in one meal occasion and looking for communal dining experiences that offer customization,” said Kevan Vetter, Executive Chef at McCormick & Co.
“As a result, you’ll be seeing more handheld fare with global flavor fusions like a gyro-arepa hybrid sandwich, exploring restaurant dishes at home like Asian hot pot and Japanese izakaya bites and finding the next spicy flavor, which this year comes from East Africa.”
McCormick’s Flavor Forecast is an annual report developed by an expert team of global chefs, culinary professionals, trend trackers and food technologists. Their predictions have found great success in the past, with previous forecasts including chipotle, coconut water, turmeric and Korean Barbeque.
“For 2018, look to new eating experiences that invite sharing, are globally inspired and pack a flavorful punch,” Vetter said.
Street Food Reinvented
McCormick finds street food vendors are selling food creations that incorporate two or more different cuisines. Such hybrids include British banoffee pie which is stuffed with bananas, cream, cinnamon and toffee, in a Chinese steamed bun.
Asian egg wraps stuffed with American fillings like pork, slaw and sauce are being sold as sizzling egg crepes. Another creation takes a Greek twist on arepas; the South American crispy corn cakes are filled with Greek gyro and tzatziki.
A Taste of East Africa
East African cuisine is in the spotlight next year with flavors that are bold, spicy and citrusy.
Tanzanian mishkaki is a great example of East African flavors, the meat skewers marinated in lemon, tomatoes and green papaya with a dash of curry, garlic, red pepper and ginger to finish, offers a bold flavorful experience.
Ethiopian berbere seasoning is an up-and-coming mixture of paprika, allspice, coriander, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and red pepper. The blend of spices gives a kick to traditional American foods like chicken stew, lentils and vegetables.
Japanese foods like sushi have already hit mainstream markets, but McCormick expects more traditional dishes to join the craze in 2018.
A staple seasoning in Japan is expected to hit American spice racks in the coming year. Furikake is a blend of dried seaweed, sesame, dried seafood, sugar and salt. This seasoning adds a flavorful umami taste to any savory dish.
Another popular Japanese snack is onigiri – fried rice balls stuffed with flavorful fillings like marinated chicken.
The wellness tonic trend is quite visible in today’s market and it is expected to get a boost in the coming year with consumers developing more interest in healthy foods.
Herbs like dandelion, thyme and sage are making an appearance in popular wellness drink recipes. Current juicing ingredients like ginger, turmeric, cucumbers, clementines and cayenne are definitely here to stay.
Hot Pot with A Twist
Mongolian hot pot is gaining popularity with the millennial market. A boiling pot of broth is set on a table along with raw meats and vegetables for boiling. Hot pot offers a healthy and interactive food experience for consumers.
Mexican inspired hot pot, Puebla, mixes the two cultures’ authentic tastes. Chicken broth is steeped in ancho chile, smoked paprika and spices, along with a variety of meats and vegetables. A West Indies inspired hotpot features a broth mixed with spices, seafood and coconut milk.
These five flavor trends are expected to evolve the way Americans consume their foods. With the US market becoming more diverse, it is likely that we will see more of these cultural flavor innovations.