Maple, Mushrooms and Moringa—Oh My! Get ready for a burst of new flavors in 2018

January 8, 2018

Some people say trends are bad thing to follow—here one day and gone the next. While that may be true in some cases (here’s looking at you Hammer pants), when it comes to flavor trends—our taste buds just won’t let us quit! Consumers around the world continue to grow more adventurous in their eating (and drinking), as evidenced by the flavors and foods leading experts are predicting will be big in 2018.

The innovation this year will start first thing in the morning, with consumer insights firm Sterling-Rice Group predicting umami will be the next big thing in breakfast. For those who aren’t familiar, umami is the savory flavor found in products like soy sauce, aged cheeses and fermented vegetables such as kimchi. It’s a popular flavor in Asian cuisine, and just as foods like sushi and gourmet ramen have become popular in recent years, Sterling-Rice Group predicts U.S. consumers will also begin to embrace more Asian-inspired breakfasts in the coming year. Their top pick for this trend is jianbing, a Chinese breakfast crepe featuring eggs, pickled vegetables, herbs and hoisin and chili sauces.

Another traditional breakfast item is also making the flavor trend lists this year—but not in the way you might expect. Both Sterling-Rice Group and market research firm Datassential say tea leaves are making their way out of the breakfast cup and into a variety of categories from produce to ice cream. Expect to see salads using fermented tea leaves, Earl Grey ice cream and cake, and tea-inspired craft cocktails.

As for what’s going into that now empty morning cup—get ready for the sweet taste of maple, says Supermarket News. They point to coffee giant Starbucks, who introduced a new maple pecan latte in late 2017, as well as the growth of maple water in the bottled water category. But natural foods grocer Whole Foods is placing their bet on floral flavors and super powders—predicting the rise of beverages like lavender latte and hibiscus teas, as well as coffee drinks and smoothies infused with matcha, maca root, turmeric, spirulina and protein powders. Sterling-Rice Group agrees powder is where it’s at, but they’re predicting moringa, a superfood derived from what’s more commonly known as “the horseradish tree,” will outshine matcha for its high protein, calcium and vitamin content.

Continuing with the increasing popularity of functional foods, functional mushrooms will also be a big trend in 2018 says Whole Foods. These aren’t your shitakes and portabellas, but varieties like reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane, which have traditionally been used as ingredients in dietary supplements. Whole Foods says consumers should expect to see a rise of mushroom broths as well as mushroom-infused smoothies and bottled drinks on store shelves and menus.

Snack-lovers take heart—there are also new things in store for you this year. Campbell’s Culinary and Baking Institute predicts nutrient-dense indulgences (aka healthy-ish treats) will be hot in 2018, while Whole Foods has its eyes set on all things puffed and popped. Move over potato chips and pretzels and make way for new favorites like popped cassava chips and puffed rice clusters. Pass the bag—we’re getting hungry!

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