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TRENDS: Hot Flavors For 2009

Each year, industry experts predict the hot flavors of the following year. With the first predictions for 2009, international research firm Mintel forecasts that manufacturers and restaurateurs will reach for the following exotic fruits and flavors to tempt jaded palates (astute eyes will notice that some of these have been on annual lists for several years running, and have yet to hit the mainstream, as have past hits like chipotle, pomegranate and wasabi):

Persimmon. Our grandmother loved persimmon, but this lovely fruit hasn’t made it out of specialty markets. According to Mintel, it is poised to “make a major splash in food and beverage.” Mintel expects companies to blend it with more common fruits, as seen in a new Japanese yogurt that contains white peaches, persimmon and apricots.


Persimmon will make a major splash in food and
beverage in 2009.
Starfruit. Many of us have been cutting this exotic fruit into fruit salads and using it as a plate garnish for decades. Found in other countries in jams and chutneys, Mintel predicts that star fruit “will become a major global player in 2009.”
Lavender. Is mainstream America ready for lavender? We don’t know. It’s one of our favorite flavors and it’s been “out there” in gourmet circles for years–Mintel expects lavender to move beyond the home and personal care categories and into food and beverage next year. Already seen in products such as Lindt Chocolat Provence’s Lemon-Lavender Dream chocolate (Germany), lavender can be paired with more familiar ingredients to bring a naturally soothing, aromatic quality to food and drink.
Cactus. Cactus is already a popular food flavor in Latin America, seen in products like Nopalia Cactus Toasts (Mexico), which contain both cactus and corn. Next year, look for manufacturers to incorporate this regional taste into new food products around the world.
Chimichurri. A classic from Latin America, chimichurri is a “salsa” from Argentina containing garlic, parsley and olive oil, and used as a sauce for grilled meats. Will American carnivores convert from sweet-and-spicy steak sauces to chimichurri? Old habits die hard. IOHO, it would take a push from the large steak chains.
Peri-Peri. This one has our vote. A hot and spicy chile-based sauce from Africa, peri-peri can sneak in where chile-based salsas have achieved success.
Masala. With the growth in popularity of Indian flavors, masala may follow curry. But we don’t see a flood of it happening in 2009 in the U.S. Masala, or garam masala (translated as “hot spice”) is a blend of ground spices in Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani cuisines, used alone or with other seasonings. Blends vary, and can include cardamom, cinnamon, clove, mace, nutmeg and peppercorns.

Mintel predicts that nature-inspired aromas will also hit; however, it seems to us that their predictions have been around in household and personal fragrances for some time:

Spicy + Woody. Perhaps we shop off the main path, but we already own these.
Food Flavors. Can one look in any direction these days and not find products that are lemon, pomegranate and vanilla scents?
Savory. Though “meaty” and “salty” aren’t words that spring to mind when thinking of fragrance, Mintel says these scents are an area of opportunity in 2009, as they evoke the comforts of festive meals and salty snacking. Hmm…though we’ll wait to see what gets produced along these lines, we’re not sure that we want to be cleaning the kitchen and polishing the furniture with “meaty” and “salty” scents. There’s a reason that citrus and other clean, refreshing aromas are so popular.

Stay tuned.




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