Food and flavor trends from last year revealed one major trend continuing to gain momentum: a preference for ethnic flavors and cuisines. Consumers want to expand their palates to specific, localized flavors. “African flavors” is now more specifically understood as ras el hanout gains popularity. What was once referred to in Western cultures as Asian chili pepper sauces are now distinguished as different flavors such as sambal and gochujang.
So, what are some of the popular flavors?
Flavors from Africa were at the top of many 2018 trend lists this year, and for good reason. Here are a few of the flavors mentioned to flourish this year:
- Ras el Hanout: A North African spice mixture commonly made from cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric.
- Berbere: A popular Ethiopian seasoning that combines coriander, paprika, allspice, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and red pepper.
- Harissa: A North African hot sauce or paste. It is commonly made from roasted red peppers and a mixture of other hot chili peppers, garlic paste, cumin, paprika, and olive oil.
Flavor trends from Asia are localized more than “Asian cuisine.” The range of categories goes beyond Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Filipino and Indian. For example, flavors are evolving to blend with other regions to create unique flavor combinations.1
- Tikka Masala: While no recipe is standard for this sauce typically used in South Asian cuisine, it is commonly found as a tomato and coriander sauce.
- Kimchi: The flavor profile for a traditional Korean kimchi dish includes a blend of garlic, onion, capsicum, leek and other spices.
- Sambal: A hot sauce or paste typically made from a mixture of a variety of chili peppers with secondary ingredients such as shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, palm sugar, lime juice, and vinegar.
- Gochujang: A spicy paste used in Korean cooking, made from red chilli peppers, fermented soya beans, rice, and salt.
Understanding flavor trends is important for predicting the next big flavor. Here are articles that discuss these flavors and trends.
Donna Berry, Food Business News [Published January 17, 2018]
Filipino foods, a combination of Asian and Latin flavors, have little spice, bold flavors and fresh ingredients. Adobo, bistek, kaldereta, kare-kare and lumpia are just a few of the savory dishes mentioned that are sure to spark innovation.
CBI, Ministry of Foreign Affairs [Published December 8, 2017]
This article discusses eight trends in herbs and spices in Europe and offers a state of the European market into 2018. Look for the second trend mentioned to read more about ethnic flavors in Europe.
Maggie Hennessy, QSR [Published December 2017]
The quick service sector is getting a spicy makeover, just what does this mean for quick meals? Fast-casual meals are adding more spices and herbs to their offerings, giving them a competitive nutritional and flavorful combination.
Food & Drink Resources
Flavors like harissa, dukkah, berbere, and ras el hanout started to become popular in 2017 and continue to grow into 2018. Intrigued by the African flavors trend? Read more about how this trend is affecting the U.S., as well as recommendations for innovation in 2018.
To read more about these predicted trends, check out our Top Food Trend Predictions for 2018, which lists top trends from food industry leaders. Interested in ethnic flavors for your next project? Check out the ethnic flavor profiles in our Culinary Collections.
- Berry, D., & Nunes, K. (2017, October 18). Seeking the next sriracha. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2017/10/Seeking_the_next_sriracha.aspx?ID=%7BB3144BAA-2348-4C68-8015-05EF5E5212D7%7D