Flavor Trends That are Here to Stay

What is the next kale? Are consumers done with sriracha? What is chocho? Do you ever find yourself anxiety baking? Kalsec compiled a list of top food trends from expert sources in the food industry. In doing this, we developed our own predictions for 2019. We encourage you to read through several of the sources and make note of the similarities and differences.

Our Predictions for Food and Flavor Trends

2019 will be a year for specificity. This means global flavors from specific regions of the world, naming pepper varietals in foods and a preference for not only clean label, but clear label.

Globally Inspired
We expect to see even more region-specific flavors going global and entering product development as consumers continue to travel the world and try new foods. Regional flavors that we are seeing show up on lists include West African, Pacific Rim and Latin American.

Spicy Specificity
Hot and spicy flavors are getting more specific and complex. Consumers want more than just ‘hot’ or ‘mild.’ They want specific pepper varietals like ancho, poblano, guajillo and more. They are looking for both heat AND flavor from these peppers and want to pair them with other sweet, savory and tangy flavors.

Fermented Flavors
As consumers become increasingly interested in ethnic foods, fermented flavors have also seen a rise in popularity. Providing probiotic properties and umami flavors, fermented foods are showing up on restaurant menus and grocery store shelves more often.

Clear Label Attributes
Consumer ideals on what should and should not be on a label is ever-changing. We are seeing more consumers prefer to see more transparency on labels. They want to know more about processing techniques, people and animal welfare, and what is being done to improve environmental impact in the production process. We call these types of information clear label attributes as they are an evolution of clean label attributes.

Plant-Based Proteins
The trend for plant-based proteins is expected to expand even more in 2019. More companies are widening their vegetarian and vegan options to attract flexitarian and other dieting consumers. This means traditional vegetarian options like the black bean burger are being joined by plant-based proteins made to look and taste like actual meat.

Alcohol Infusions
Driven by Millennials, the trend for alcohol in food will appear more in 2019. Foodies are finding that alcohol flavors pair well with traditionally savory and sweet notes. Tying in to the craft beer craze, consumers are now more than ever interested in seeing specific flavor pairings with their favorite foods. On the opposite side of this spectrum, we are also seeing an increase in interest for non-alcoholic artisan cocktails and beverages.

Handcrafted at a Premium
Foods that tell a story or offer additional benefits are increasingly preferred by consumers. The rise of craft products like beer, cheese, baked goods and meat has led to an artisan food movement that reaches far beyond traditional homemade products. Consumers are looking to splurge more often and want signature crafted and premium products that tell a story they can relate to.

For more global food trends visit our collection of food trend content.

Sources for 2019 Food and Flavor Trends

Kalsec stays ahead of the industry by closely monitoring food trends. Kalsec gathered the most innovative trend lists to inspire your product development, help you further digest trends for 2019, or just make you hungry.

See how these trends have evolved since last year by comparing them directly with our Top Food Trend Predictions for 2018.


SOURCE: Innova Market Insights [Published November 13, 2018]

  1. Discovery – The Adventurous Consumer: Exploring bold flavors and multi-sensory food experiences
  2. The Plant Kingdom: Plant-based options on-the-rise
  3. Alternatives to All: Replacement foods and ingredients
  4. Green Appeal: Sustainable products and packaging
  5. Snacking – The Definitive Occasion: No longer the optional extra
  6. Eating for Me: Individual needs and preferences
  7. A Fresh Look at Fiber: The return of fiber as an essential food ingredient
  8. I Feel Good: The role of nutrition in both physical and mental wellbeing
  9. Small Player Mindset: Start-up companies shaking up the industry
  10. Connected to the Plate: Social media enabling consumer co-creation

SOURCE: Whole Foods [Published in Food52 on November 28, 2018]

  1. Pacific Rim Flavors: Foods from the sea are dominating menus, while vibrant tropical fruits, like jackfruit, are becoming meat alternatives
  2. Shelf-Stable Probiotics: Adding functional probiotic ingredients to staple pantry products
  3. Phat Fats: The rising popularity of diets with fats as key ingredients, fat integration in foods is continuing to emerge
  4. Next-Level Hemp: There is a new interest in the potential benefits stemming from other parts of hemp plants not typically used
  5. Faux Meat Snacks: More people are exploring plant-based snacking with new versions of jerky and “pork” rinds
  6. Eco-Conscious Packaging: An emphasis on reusing and multi-use packaging
  7. Trailblazing Frozen Treats: New consumer ice cream products
  8. Marine Munchies, Beyond Seaweed: Consumers are exploring new depths of ocean flavors with new marine items
  9. Snack Time, Upgraded: Snacks are becoming an occasion of its own, and becoming more fancy
  10. Purchases That Empower: Consideration behind purchases becomes more people-focused

SOURCE: Mintel [Published November 2018]

  1. Evergreen Consumption: A circular view of sustainability spanning the entire product lifecycle
  2. Through the Ages: The industry will build on today’s dialogue about wellness and transition into more solutions for healthy aging
  3. Elevated Convenience: Convenience foods are matching the premium expectations of consumers

SOURCE: Technomic [Published October 19, 2018]

  1. Levitating Levantine Cuisine: Growing interest interest in flavor innovation from Israeli’s surrounding countries
  2. Natural Enhancements: Functional foods
  3. Sensory Thrills Beyond a Snapshot: Social media and the power of video
  4. The Next Wave for Third-Party Players: Third-party food delivery companies are on the rise
  5. Meat-Free to the Extreme?: Plant-based dining with zero waste policies and a wider focus on sustainability
  6. Tech Taking Over the Experience: Technology amenities are redefining convenience
  7. A New, Multifaceted Transparency: Consumers want a more well-rounded transparency message

SOURCE: Kroger [Published October 2018]

  1. Regional Flavors: Products influenced by local, regional and global tastes
  2. Plant-Based Foods: There will be more plant-based foods available
  3. Eating Styles: Consumers are changing their eating styles, including vegetarian, flexitarian, keto and paleo
  4. Gut Healthy Foods: Consumers are seeking gut healthy foods
  5. Low Sugar and Natural Sweeteners: Reducing or eliminating sugar

SOURCE: Campbell’s [Published January 2019]

  1. Modern Mushrooms: Mushrooms are on-the-rise
  2. North African Flavors: Ras el hanout, Moroccan couscous
  3. All-Day Dining: Dinner foods for breakfast and vice versa
  4. Next Level Texture: Focus on foods that add texture
  5. Vegetable Evolution: Plant-based proteins evolving and taking center stage
  6. Wellness Sips: Better-for-you drinks

SOURCE: Sterling Rice Group

top food trends 2019 fermented foods

  1. Feed Your Mind: Neuronutrition is top of mind
  2. About Face: Additions of collagen and gut-healthy ingredients
  3. Fuggedabout Food: Periodic fasting and meal replacements
  4. A Grain of Truth: Ancient grains
  5. Bitter is Sweet: Bitter veggies and flavors are on-the-rise
  6. Rooted and Ravishing: Plant-based foods
  7. Lettuce Be Fresh: Lettuce being juiced and exotic varieties
  8. Butter is the New Bacon: Butter is taking center stage in many items
  9. Data Mining Dining: Artificial intelligence to predict food and flavor trends
  10. Fermentation Without the Funk: Fungal fermentation techniques that drive flavor forward

SOURCE: Food and Drink Resources

  1. Loaded Cocktails: Over-the-top garnishes
  2. Israeli Inspired Fare: Part of the Middle Eastern flavors trend – think dates, pistachios and mint
  3. Wild Greens: Greens like dandelion, mustard and chicory will replace kale
  4. Fermented Everything: Fermented foods
  5. Life-Affirming Butter: Cultured butter
  6. Fine Dining Veggie: Vegetarian main dishes front and center at fine dining restaurants
  7. Nootropics: Functional ingredients as memory enhancers
  8. CBD Cocktails and Coffee Drinks: CBD-infused drinks
  9. Georgian Cuisine and Wine: Food and wine from the country, not the state
  10. More Authentic and Creative Latin Cuisine: Peruvian, Guatemalan and Mexican dishes
  11. Not Your Ordinary Ice Cream: Rolled ice cream, cookie dough and ice cream combos

SOURCE: Pinterest, as published on kitchn [Published December 12, 2018]

  1. Mushrooms: Searches for recipes containing mushrooms jumped 64% in 2018
  2. “Pegan” Diet: Combination of Paleo and vegan diets
  3. Grazing Tables: Family-style dinner tables that resemble a buffet
  4. Bread Baking: Especially fermented and sourdough loaves
  5. Ginger Infusions: Infusing drinks with ginger
  6. Oxtail: Especially in slow-cooker friendly dishes
  7. Foil Pack Dinners: The newest trend in meal prep
  8. Homemade Jam: The trend for artisanal, homemade touches
  9. Oat Milk: The big winner in the non-dairy milk category in 2019
  10. Chocho: Superfood gourd

SOURCE: Datassential [Published December 2018]

  1. Lichen: A plant that forms from algae
  2. Booza: Arabic ice cream
  3. Donburi: Japanese rice bowls
  4. Yuzu Kosho: A fragrant, tart citrus fruit
  5. Mangosteen: A tropical fruit known for its unique sweet, tangy, juicy, floral flavor
  6. Ashwagandha: Is this herb the next big superfood?
  7. Mamey: This fruit has been compared to a combination of sweet potato, pumpkin, peach, honey, almond, brown sugar, cantaloupe, banana, pear, nutmeg, vanilla and chocolate
  8. Chamoy: Bottled sauce made by adding chili powder to a pickling liquid used to preserve fruit
  9. Terpenes: Oils responsible for flavor and aroma
  10. Koji: A mold or fungus traditionally grown on rice or another grain

SOURCE: Tyson Foods [Published November 15, 2018]

  1. Personalized Foods for Health and Beauty: Eating for mind, digestion and beauty
  2. Transparent Food Takes Hold: New technology is providing consumers with answers
  3. Protein Goes Wild: Demand for new and better use of proteins
  4. Food That Thinks…and Talks: Smart technology reaches the kitchen
  5. Food as a Form of Self-Expression: Consumers are aligning with companies that represent similar values
  6. The Fusion of Flavors: Innovative flavors and pairings

SOURCE: Waitrose & Partners [Published November 2018]

  1. Personalised Health: Mainstream use of artificial intelligence to improve health and diets
  2. The Next Big Scoop: Insta-friendly ice cream indulgence
  3. West African Food: From tangy chicken yassa to tasty jollof rice
  4. Let’s Get Bitter: Bitter food is coming to a place near you
  5. Cocktail Change-Ups: Alcohol-free spirits


  1. New Proteins: Lupines, peas, soy and ‘meatless’ meat
  2. Wisdom From Asia: The influence of Ayurveda will see an embrace of turmeric root and ghee
  3. Colourful Lattes: Lattes made without coffee beans and with bright colors
  4. Baking With Beans: Cakes, bread and buns will get an extra protein boost
  5. Glitz and Glam: Eye-popping indulgences like edible gold, food on fire and glitter cappuccino

SOURCE: Benchmark, as posted on Meetings & Conventions [Published September 12, 2018]

  1. Tea Parties: Craft tea blending, nitro tea on tap and tea cocktails
  2. Meat Lovers and Others: New cuts of meat and protein alternatives
  3. Good Gut Bacteria: Fermented foods
  4. Bring on the Bugs!: Insects as a new form of protein
  5. Farm-to-Table 2.0: Planting specifically for new menu development
  6. Takeout vs. Go Out: The convenience of delivery versus things you cannot get at home
  7. Mainstream Vegetarianism: More main dishes are becoming vegetable-focused
  8. Food and the Greater Good: Greater efforts behind the need for food around the world in the form of humanitarian aid
  9. Out With the Old: Replacements for lime, lemon, kale, honey and agave
  10. Dietitians – the New Celebrity Chefs: Professional dietitians will rank alongside celebrity chefs as consumers aim to personalize their food experiences

SOURCE: National Restaurant Association[Published December 18, 2018]

  1. Globally Inspired Breakfast Foods: Ethnic-inspired breakfasts like shakshouka
  2. New Cuts of Beef: Oyster, merlot and Vegas Strip steaks
  3. Plant-Based Proteins: Sausages and burgers
  4. Locally Sourced Meats and Seafood: Consumers want to know where there food comes from and how it is prepared
  5. Veggie-Carb Substitutes: Think ‘zoodles’ – noodles made of zucchini

SOURCE: The New York Times [Published December 21, 2018]

top food trends 2019 spicy specificity

  1. The Next Lettuce: Little-known varieties showing up on menus
  2. The New Flavor Profile: Sour and funky, with shades of heat
  3. The Thing You Will Try Against Your Better Judgment: Cheese tea
  4. The Big Health Fix: Gut health and fermentation
  5. The Hot Diets: Emphasizing fats over carbohydrates
  6. The New Sheet-Pan Supper: Foil-pack dinners
  7. The Driest Drinks: Little or no alcohol
  8. The Case Against Waste: Reducing packaging waste
  9. The Playlist Ploy: Restaurants seeking ways to expand their brand beyond food
  10. The Plant-Based Main Course: Substantial vegetable entrees
  11. The Motherless Meat: Laboratory-grown proteins
  12. The Tech Advancement You’ll Hate Until You Need It: Salad-making robots
  13. The Hope for Dope: THC and CBD
  14. The New ‘It’ Vegetable: Mushrooms or seaweed?
  15. The New ‘It’ Cuisines: From which region will top flavors emerge?
  16. The Cause of the Year: How a restaurant or food company cares about its people


  1. Black Magic: Caviar
  2. Edible Bling: Gold everything
  3. Transparent Treats: Clear foods
  4. Meat Culture: Craft butchery
  5. Boozey Bites: Edible cocktails
  6. The ‘Shroom Boom: Mushrooms as a superfood
  7. Sexy Cephalopods: Octopus
  8. Green Goddess: Seaweed
  9. The Pisco Trail: Peruvian cuisine
  10. Connected Cooking: ‘Smart’ cooking
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