The Next Generation of Flavor

June 16, 2010

Supermarket Guru looked at existing trends and tapped the culinary pulse of the future to develop the SG 2011 Flavor Profile Index -

Supermarket Guru looked at existing trends and tapped the culinary pulse of the future to develop the SG 2011 Flavor Profile Index - categories of flavors from the fusion of Indian flavors to a focus on floral notes. Without further adieu, here is our view:

Farm-fresh Vegetables – The local-seasonal movement is not only driven by the need to fight the obesity issues in America, it’s accelerated by the demand for more flavorful food. As the movement gains momentum from government funded nutritional programs, look for the vegetable to move from its side dish status to center plate. Edible gardens are gaining popularity across the country, including Atlanta’s Edible Garden which  boasts colorful vegetables to eat 365 days a year, from orange cauliflower in spring to purple beans and burgundy okra in the summer to a kaleidoscope of apples, pears, persimmons, figs, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and muscadines in fall. Translate that to the supermarket or the plate and you’d be focused on grown-up, herbaceous salads complemented with mint, cilantro, fennel and other fresh herbs. Think roasted tomato cous cous Vidalia stuffed onions or Kaffir Lime and Roasted Beets.

Floral Arrangements – As shoppers become more aware of the bounty offered from farm stands and growing produce departments, the acceptance of botanical essences will increase. From sweet lavender treats to hibiscus beverages, there will be plenty of flowering interest as consumers continue to be open to experiencing new ways to celebrate the earth’s bounty.

Spice Trader – It’s interesting here to note that McCormick & Co. Inc. says Americans now keep an average of 40 different spices, a figure that’s grown roughly twice as fast in the past two decades as it did in the previous 30 years. Now we’ll take the spice a step further to look at unique varieties and origins. Think of the variety of garlic alone from black to porcelain to purple stripe to Creole Red Silverskin. Beyond the varieties and subspecies, consumers will be tempted by less familiar spices such as sweet basil seed, cinnamon myrtle, mountain pepper, and wattlseed.

Sweet Umami – For years we’ve been elated with the tastes of salted caramels. Then came chili chocolates and now salt & pepper chocolate. The flavors keep on growing in this savory-sweet category. The next incarnation? Think cumin ice cream, green tea chai cookies, wasabi-white chocolate popcorn, cardamom-ginger chocolate bars or vanilla gelato drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

Citrus – Chefs have been serving up citrus and fruit complemented main courses for years. Spring is always the harbinger of light seafood dishes seasoned with citrus. Now this trend will make the leap to consumers who will experiment not only with traditional orange and lemon zests, but combining citrus with spice to embrace items such as Orange and Chipotle Rub, Desert Lime & Coriander Marinade, or Lemon Aspen Buerre Blanc.

Savory Fruits – Along with the sweet umami flavor explosion there will be continued growth in fruit and savory combinations like blueberry yogurt pretzels, rosemary pear spread, and fruit-nut combinations like spiced apple-pecan vinegar. Additionally, new fruits will make their way into the fray. Move over pomegranate, hello mangosteen, passion fruit and paw paw.

Indian Fusion – Staple ingredients to Indian cuisine – coconut, curry, mint, turmeric and cumin - will be brought to the table in unusual ways for the U.S. consumer. Think curried ketchups, minted yogurts and sesame oil-kaffir lime marinade. Indian cuisines themselves will continue to gain shelf space as healthier, convenient options make their way into the market.

Smoky Flavors – It’s not your granddad’s smokehouse anymore. Chefs are testing smoky palates with everything from smoked watermelon to smoked steak. Smoked food products will go well beyond pork loin or salmon, incorporating other cultural smoking traditions from Asia, as well as more adventurous cold-smoked offerings. Smoking with tea will become more popular – Green Tea Chai Smoked Trout or Black Tea Smoked Cornish Hens anyone?