When a food goes from little-known in the U.S. to strewn across every label in the grocery store, it's no random act.
But how does a dish, an ingredient, or a flavor profile get its big break in the U.S. marketplace? Maybe it's picked up by a widely-traveled chef who then catches the eye of the media; maybe it's featured in a New York Times article read across the country; and maybe—actually, very likely—it exists for many, many years in immigrant communities before it takes off on social media.
One of the places where food trends are vetted and selected for entering the mainstream—usually in the form of widely-distributed packaged foods—is at trade meetings like the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition, which took place in Chicago earlier this week. At the IFT meeting, analysts from two market intelligence agencies, Mintel and Innova Market Insights, discussed the flavor trends they've been noticing—and those they expect to take off— with professionals in the food industry.
And what do industry execs look for when deciding the next flavor of yogurt, or potato chip, or flavored spread?
The conclusion? Some of us (but perhaps a surprisingly small percentage?) want food to be fun to eat; we want to try "new" things but nothing that's too new or surprising; and we can expect to be seeing a lot more soursop in the future (though my guess is that it'll be marketed as guanabana to eliminate the impression that it's actually sour—because that's still a bit unfamiliar).
Which of these flavor predictions surprise you? (We thought sesame and matcha would get more play!) Tell us in the comments!