2023 Summer Flavor Trends

May 1, 2023

As we look at the flavor landscape coming into focus this summer, the theme we are seeing is “Classics with a Twist.” It’s all about taking your favorite classics and pairing them with exciting unique flavors to create a bold new taste experience. We are seeing emerging trends like utilizing traditionally savory flavors in sweet applications and the expansion of the citrus family beyond the tried and true. In addition, functional beverages are getting an exciting new makeover with new product aesthetics, and the rise of new “Relaxation” beverages. Today we will break down the top 4 trends that will dominate 2023’s summer season – and likely play a big role well into 2024.

Citrus is King

Our next trend is the expansion of the citrus family. Citrus flavors always dominate the flavor scene, partly due to 64% of consumers associating citrus flavors with being healthier. They offer a refreshing, light, and revitalizing taste. According to Innova Market Insights, around one-third of all new beverage launches in the past five years feature a citrus taste. These flavors can be found in soft drinks, flavored waters, juices, energy drinks, and seltzers. They are even finding their way into dairy products like ice cream and yogurts.

FMCG Gurus Survey FCT03051

You might be wondering how citrus flavors can be trending when citrus fruits like orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit have reigned supreme for over a decade. The real trend to pay attention to this summer are the other members of the citrus family starting to have time in the spotlight. We are seeing a rise in flavors like,

Tangerine is becoming a new flavor superstar due to its sweeter, creamier, orange flavor profile. It was one of the top 20 fastest-growing flavors of 2022.

Kerry 2023 Trends and Nutrition Charts

These new citruses satisfy consumer’s preference for light and refreshing flavors, while simultaneously satisfying the desire to try new things.

Turning Sweets into Savories

2023 is the year of genre-defying flavors. More and more products are utilizing traditionally savory flavors in sweet applications and vice versa. Studies show that 49% of consumers are interested in trying flavors that are not usually associated with the product they are purchasing. For example, finding basil in a hydration drink, turmeric in a protein powder, or even rose in a coffee alternative.

The freedom to mix and match allows companies to think outside the box and create unique flavor profiles. Consumers are becoming more adventurous and experimental, not only in the foods they prepare in their homes but in the products, they purchase. Studies show that 73% of American consumers want to try unusual or exotic flavors they have never tried before. There is a particular interest in savory and hot flavors, with 92% and 85% of consumers interested in those two taste groups respectively.

Some top flavors that are redefining savory and sweet flavors include:

Now, the willingness of consumers to try new flavors doesn’t mean they will come back time and time again to buy them. So, what’s the trending solution? Pair a tried-and-true classic flavor (i.e., Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Orange, Lemon, Mango etc.) with an exciting new exotic flavor to get the best of both worlds. Using this pairing solution mitigates the risk of using uncommon flavors, while satisfying consumer’s desire for new experiences.

This growing trend is resulting in flavor combinations like,

  • Mango habanero
  • Ginger Peach
  • Cranberry Lemonade
  • Orange Cranberry
  • Yuzu Lime
  • Raspberry Rose
  • Black Tea Vanilla
  • Rose White Tea
  • Basil Berry
  • Lemongrass Fig
  • Chili Coconut

Sweet Dreams

Our final trend is all about rest and relaxation products. In recent years products claiming to aid sleep and relaxation are gaining momentum across the industry. Over 69% of consumers are looking for products that will improve their sleep patterns, and relaxation habits (FMCG Gurus Recharge and Revive). Constant stress, inconsistent eating and sleeping habits, overworking, or high anxiety are all elements that can affect our sleep. Incorporating a calming beverage into nightly routines is one strategy consumers are using to combat these struggles.

There is a growing shift towards products that offer additional health benefits to everyday lives as consumers are becoming more vigilant about what they consume. According to Kerry Group “functional beverages are predicted to be the fastest-growing subsector” in the food industry. This is certainly true for rest and relaxation beverages which are growing in popularity as opposed to more traditional vitamins or supplements. Functional beverages, specifically hot teas, that emphasize an ability to improve sleep health are only going to grow in popularity in the coming years. (Kerry Protein Beverage Trends)

The most common flavors associated with relaxation beverages predominantly belong to the botanical family. More than 73% of consumers associate these flavors with improving sleep patterns and aiding relaxation (FMCG Gurus Recharge and Revive).

Judge a Book by its Color

As much as we try to remain objective, the truth is we like products that look good. A drink might taste amazing and offer the exact functionalities desired, but if it doesn’t look good it can be hard to drink. The look of products can greatly affect how we experience the taste, which is why at Sensapure our R&D team works hard to make a product look just as appealing as it tastes. According to studies, product flavor still outranks color in terms of importance. 81% of consumers care more about how a product tastes than anything else, while 57% of consumers care more about color. So, while our focus is on taste, we can’t deny that looks play a key role.

That being said, a new trend of having black-colored products might come as a surprise as you might not think black food products as being appealing. The trick is that these products aren’t pure black in color. They might be a very dark brown for coffee and coffee alternatives. Or they might be a deep purple for blackberry-flavored products.

Some popular flavors and ingredients that are trending alongside black coloring are,

In addition, this summer brands are incorporating different elements into beverages to make them stand out. These can include things like edible glitter, sprinkles, unusual colors, or anything that will help boost the photogenic qualities of a product. We live in the age of social media where media platforms are becoming the main source of information, and those platforms are mainly photo based. Looks can move products off the shelf. Some popular colors we are seeing are pastels, yellow, greens and blues, and black. These trending colors are gaining momentum along side trending ingredients that are popping up in more products; yellow turmeric, green matcha, and black coal.

Consciously unifying color, taste, and ingredients is a powerful combination that strengthens a product’s success. Here are some examples of combinations Sensapure has formulated,

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