But, that doesn’t mean consumers are willing or able to fully shake off many of the values and behaviors they have adopted in recent years, according to ADM. So, while consumers say they want products that appeal to their personal aesthetics, they also still want them to fit their budgets, promote their health and be made with natural colors and ingredients.
To better understand how these values will come together in the new year to influence innovation and shopping habits, ADM global product marketing director of flavors Jennifer Zhou and ADM senior global marketing manager of colors & savory flavors Kelly Newsome join this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Soup-To-Nuts podcast. They share four high level flavor and color trends they predict will emerge in 2024, including Luxe Self-Expression, Dare to #Dupe, Health Without Stealth and Breaking Boundaries of Taste & Color.
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Consumers seek relief from economy, global conflict in ‘unapologetic choice’ for flavors, colors
While ADM’s prediction that 2024 will “unleash” in consumers a “hedonistic” demand for flavors and colors that appeal to their emotions, reflect their aesthetics and transcend tradition and geographic boundaries may seem incongruous with the ongoing inflation that is squeezing many financially and rising global conflict, Zhou says that in times of uncertainty new fanciful flavors and colors can offer much-needed relief and whimsy.
“In times [when] … the world seems like a crazy place, flavors and colors are a place [where] people can explore and still find magic and wonder and discovery. And I would say that they are even more necessary when crises and conflicts happen. It is a way to reassure yourself that, ‘Hey, I’m still human. I still feel an emotion, and that emotion doesn’t have to be depression about what’s going on in the world. It can be something hopeful,” she said.
As such, she said, ADM is declaring 2024 “a year for unapologetic choice” in which “consumers are having this ‘sorry, not sorry’ moment,” and going for what they want – even if it conflicts with other desires or other trends.
Newsome agreed, noting that fun flavors and colors don’t have to break the bank or compromise consumer values, including around health and sustainability. Indeed, many shoppers will see these as added benefits that can help reinforce their purchase decisions – giving CPG manufacturers permission to have a little fun through innovation.
Trend #1: Luxe self-expression
One way that ADM sees this confluence of conflicting values and desires playing out in 2024 is through the adoption of what it calls “luxe self-expression” – a trend that Newsome acknowledges may seem paradoxical to the current economic climate, but which actually allows for affordable luxury.
“While we all need to be cognizant and very mindful of how much we’re spending on what we are consuming, the products that we do choose to spend our hard-earned dollars on still need to provide us with that alignment with our values,” she said.
For example, that might be recreating a blue cocktail with sparkles at home, rather than going out for a drink.
Consumers looking for fun flavors and colors and to create luxurious experiences at home, are turning to TikTok and other social media for inspiration. These trends also are inspiring fast-moving CPG companies to create products that make it easier for consumers to follow along in-real-life with what they see online.
According to ADM, an early example of how this trend is influencing flavor is the emergence of cinnamon sugar, which has 2.4 billion views on TikTok. Other flavors include caramelized fruit and sweet plus umami. Color inspirations within this trend include stormy blue, sparkling grape and fiery red.
Trend #2: Dare to #dupe
ADM’s second trend prediction for 2024 – Dare to #dupe – better aligns with consumers ongoing concerns about inflation and their hunt for affordable options that still offer joy and support their health.
Zhou explains this trend, which began in the cosmetic world as a way for consumers to tap into luxurious beauty trends at a lower price point, is now playing out in the food and beverage industry through the embrace of private label and the proliferation of flavors and colors in previously unexpected places.
Zhou points to the pumpkin spice phenomenon as an example, where consumers’ love the flavor in coffee has now inspired baked goods, cereals and even instant noodles.
Trend #3: Health without stealth
Consumer desire for better-for-you alternatives is also driving the dare to #dupe trend as they look to recreate lighter versions of decadent meals or seek packaged foods that offer healthier versions of a beloved product. Zhou notes this also feeds into ADM’s third flavor and color trend for 2024 – health without stealth.
“We’re entering a season where functional products are just products, and the products we consume, we actually just assume they should be functional,” she said.
Examples include high-protein, high-fiber, low-sugar and low-sodium claims – all of which can trigger flavor challenges as CPG companies look to balance off-notes or missing sweetness or saltiness.
One way Newsome sees this trend playing out is with the rise of fermented flavors and the use of flavors or colors that lend a health halo. For example, yellow and orange are associated with citrus which is associated with immunity support. Or olive oil green, which brings together the color with the heart health benefits associated with olive oil.
This trend isn’t limited to physical wellbeing. Zhou notes that many of the flavors and colors, especially those associated with florals, also are associated with mental wellbeing.
Trend #4: Breaking boundaries of taste and color
The fourth and last flavor and color trend that ADM predicts will emerge in 2024 is ‘breaking boundaries of taste and color’ so the idea that unconventional or unexpected colors, flavors and combinations are becoming the norm.
Zhou notes that many of the examples within this trend began in social media, which is exposing consumers to new ideas and encouraging them to throw off restrictions that they’ve placed on themselves and to try something new.
“One of the things that we saw in our social media research was the fruit roll-up challenge,” in which consumers wrap a fruit rollup around ice cream and freeze if for a new texture, flavor and color experience, she said.
“The other part on the culinary side is, we’re going to see interesting and maybe underrepresented geographies come into play. Speaking from a US perspective, we’re going to see more Southeast Asia,” including Korean and Thai influences, as well as South American flavors, she said.
Newsome adds this trend also is in response to the uncertainty associated with the pandemic, inflation and growing global conflicts, and it gives CPG manufacturers significant leeway for innovation.
“We’ve all felt this globally unsettled feeling, and this is really about, how can I feed my soul,” and make the most of today not knowing what tomorrow will bring, she said. This is empowering consumers to try new cuisines and foods and flavors, which CPG companies can play with.
For those who want to know more about how each of these trends might play out in 2024, or explore some of the flavor and color inspirations that ADM has identified within them, you can download ADM’s 2024 Flavor and Color Outlook from ADM’s website.