The end of the old year and beginning of the new year traditionally finds pundits offering their predictions about what the future is likely to hold. When it comes to predicting what flavors will influence food dishes, no one does it better than McCormick & Company. McCormick started making its predictions 13 years ago to welcome in the new century. “The report is an annual spotlight on the emerging trends that the company expects to drive in terms of flavor innovation over the next several years.” [“McCormick® Flavor Forecast® 2013 Reveals Flavor Trends Expected To Drive Global Innovation In Food,” PR Newswire, 6 December 2012] Alan Wilson, Chairman, President and CEO of McCormick, stated in the press release, “Through the Flavor Forecast, McCormick leads the way in identifying flavor trends that serve as catalysts for innovation in many favorite retail brands and restaurant menus, including our own products. With our global team of experts – spanning consumer and industrial segments in more than 100 countries – McCormick has a unique capability of identifying new and emerging trends on a global scale.” He went on to say, “At McCormick, it’s our passion for flavor that helps us deliver such a strong track record of identifying the trends consumers will come to love.”
The press release goes on to note that “past reports have helped move once unfamiliar ingredients and trends into mainstream popularity.” One example that demonstrates the impact of the annual Flavor Forecast is chipotle. The ingredient was not well known until it was discussed in the 2003 Flavor Forecast. In the years that have followed, the mention of chipotle in U.S. menu items has “increased by a staggering 214 percent.” The press release continues:
“The trend of infusing foods with cocktail-inspired flavors appeared in the 2008 Flavor Forecast. About 3,000 new grocery products have been launched since then featuring a variety of flavors like whiskey, ale, bourbon, brandy and more. The much-anticipated Forecast report is created by a team of McCormick chefs, sensory scientists, dietitians, trend trackers, marketing experts and food technologists from around the world. In its second year as a global report, the Flavor Forecast showcases trends and flavors taking root in cultures spanning Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and North America.”
This year’s Flavor Forecast “has identified five trends that the company believes will drive new product development and innovative menu additions over the coming years. Ten accompanying flavor combinations illustrate how these trends are coming to life through taste.” The five trends are labeled: Global My Way; No Apologies Necessary; Personally Handcrafted; Empowered Eating; and Hidden Potential. Concerning these trends, Kevan Vetter, a McCormick Executive Chef, stated, “Around the world, we’re seeing a fascinating collision of tradition and innovation. Authentic, real ingredients are still at the core – though now they’re being enjoyed in unique, updated ways that reflect a much more personalized approach to cooking and eating.” Here’s how the press release discusses the first trend: Global My Way:
“One leading trend featured in this year’s Flavor Forecast is ‘Global My Way,’ which describes how people are discovering formerly ‘ethnic’ ingredients beyond their traditional uses, incorporating those flavors into everyday eating. ‘Don’t be surprised if in the next few years Japanese Katsu, a tangy cross between BBQ and steak sauce, and cajeta, a Mexican caramel, gain the broad appeal that once-regional tastes like Asian hot chili sauce have achieved,’ said Vetter. [The ingredients featured in this trend are:] Japanese Katsu Sauce & Oregano – Tangy flavors of BBQ and steak sauce create the next go-to condiment; [and,] Anise & Cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce) – Sweet, rich delight transports desserts and savory dishes to new places.”
Food blogger Maura Hernandez, who is “always looking to share Mexican food and culture in new ways,” writes, “I’m always trying to incorporate my favorite Mexican ingredients into non-Mexican dishes, or to put a Mexican spin on a non-Mexican dish by infusing a traditionally Mexican flavor. Chef Vetter shared with me a tamal recipe that pairs with a Japanese katsu sauce, which I thought was pretty cool and that I’m looking forward to trying out soon.” [“2013 McCormick Flavor Forecast gives Mexican food a global twist,” The Other Side of The Tortilla, 6 December 2012] The next identified trend — No Apologies Necessary — is described this way:
“No Apologies Necessary – Diving headfirst into sumptuous flavors to enjoy the gratification of a momentary escape. [Ingredients featured are:] Decadent Bitter Chocolate, Sweet Basil & Passion Fruit – An intensely indulgent combo that delights all the senses; [and] Black Rum, Charred Orange & Allspice – An instant tropical getaway, this sultry collision balances richness and warmth.”
“I really do love the No Apologies Necessary approach,” writes Aggie, founder of the website Aggie’s Kitchen. “I’m excited about experimenting with a few new to me spices this year, for example allspice. I will not be apologizing for anything while sipping on one of those Charred Orange Coladas, that’s for sure!” [“McCormick Flavor Forecast 2013,” 6 December 2012] Christi, from the website Love From the Oven, writes, “Food and flavor are wonderful delicious things, and we really should not apologize for wanting to savor and enjoy them. I love the No Apologies Necessary aspect of the Flavor Forecast, as I know that for my family, often it is sitting down at the table for dinner or dessert, where we get to stop, we get to slow down and we get to enjoy each other and our food, and that is a trend I hope to see more of.” [“McCormick’s Flavor Forecast For 2013,” 10 December 2012] The next trend — Personally Handcrafted — is described this way in the press release:
“Personally Handcrafted – A hands-on approach showcasing the very best of ourselves. [Featured ingredients include:] Cider, Sage & Molasses – Rustic and comforting, this combo brings natural goodness to every meal of the day; [and] Smoked Tomato, Rosemary, Chile Peppers & Sweet Onion – Smoky, sweet and spicy flavors energize handcrafted ketchup, sauces, jams and more.”
Christi writes, “As a baker, this trend really resonates with me. … That little extra time and effort to what we put into our foods, is paying off and looks to be something we will be seeing more of as we move forward.” Caroline, from the website Chocolate & Carrots, writes, “All of the trends sound quite interesting to me, but the two that stick out to me the most are Personally Handcrafted and Empowered Eating. It just makes the most sense that for me, making things from scratch and making them healthier is just who I am. It’s like these two trends were made for me! I love the idea of everyone having the tools to make what tastes good to them, for themselves and making it healthier.” [“Flavor Forecast 2013,” 6 December 2012] Caroline’s comments are a good segue into the next trend — Empowered Eating. The press release states:
“Empowered Eating – Creating health and wellness harmony through a highly personalized, flexible approach. [Featured ingredients include:] Farro Grain, Blackberry & Clove – Healthy ancient grain rediscovered with powerful hits of fruit and spice; [and] Market-Fresh Broccoli & Dukkah (blend of cumin, coriander, sesame and nuts) – Satisfying flavors and textures, mixing unexpected varieties of broccoli with Middle Eastern spice blend.”
Aggie writes, “I’ve always believed that food should make you feel good – and I don’t mean feel good in a sugar high or stuffed and satisfied type of way (though you can say there are times for that!). Food is fuel and your body really does reap the rewards when it’s taken care of – and it goes without saying … it should taste good too! I have my eye on a few McCormick recipes that really showcase spice combinations that are packed with flavor and will enhance any meal that is labeled ‘healthy’.” Christi adds, “More than ever, eating can be personalized to fit your needs, whatever they may be. … Many are going for a fresher farm to plate way of eating, some are focusing on eating local, while others may be selecting specialized diets to fit their personal health needs. This is certainly a time when eating your way is not only acceptable, but to be embraced.” The final trend — Hidden Potential — is described this way in the press release:
“Hidden Potential – A waste-not mentality, uncovering the fullest flavors from every last part of the ingredient. [Featured ingredients include:] Hearty Meat Cuts, Plantain & Stick Cinnamon – A new take on meat and potatoes, these ingredients inspire creative approaches that unlock their full flavor potential; [and] Artichoke, Paprika & Hazelnut – Ingredients you thought you knew invite new explorations, unleashing their deliciously versatile starring qualities.
Jeanne, from the website Cook Sister, writes, “I have been an adherent of the ‘Hidden Potential’ trend for ages, living by the motto of waste not want not and going so far as to lug back big bags of woody asparagus ends from Somerset to make a creamy asparagus soup; or slow-cooking odd cuts like oxtail to make a delicious oxtail stew.” [“Easy homemade hummus with South African chakalaka spice – inspired by the 2013 McCormick Flavour Forecast,” 6 December 2012] As you can tell from the comments drawn from cooking and recipe sites, the annual McCormick Flavor Forecast has almost immediate impact in the food world. You can join in on the fun. The press release states, “To explore the future of global flavor with inspired recipes and mouthwatering photos, visit http://www.flavorforecast.com/#the-future-of-flavor.” If you love cooking, it’s worth the visit.