Predictions Spotlight: Down to Earth Flavors

by | Apr 20, 2023

It’s time for another prediction spotlight! We’re taking a deep dive into our flavor predictions for 2023. At the end of last year, we broke out our predictions into four key categories.

  • Feel Good Flavors
  • Down to Earth Flavors
  • Elevated Taste Experiences
  • Experience-Inspired Tastes

This week, we’re exploring our predictions for earthy flavors in foods and beverages. Whether you’re innovating with floral, botanical, or mushroom flavors, here are key trends to help inspire your product development journey.

Florals and Botanicals

Less sweet, more sophisticated—floral and botanical flavors tend to pair conceptually with functional food and beverage products. Ingredients with well-known benefits, like lavender, chamomile, and ginseng, appeal to shoppers who are prioritizing their mental and physical health.

Although botanicals have found a place within the functional beverage category, earthy flavors offer plenty of opportunities in bakery, dairy, and confections. From chocolates that help create peaceful moments to energy-boosting protein shakes and mindful non-alcoholic cocktails, botanical profiles can help consumers reach their health or lifestyle goals.

North American food and beverage brands are turning to botanical flavors more often, with launches featuring floral flavors up +4.6% since 2018. Hibiscus led the way for floral flavor innovation as a single flavor or in combination with berries or citrus. But almost 100 unique flavor pairings featuring florals launched in 2022.

healthy-looking salad in a blue bowl

Top trending floral ingredients according to social listening platform Tastewise pointing toward additional flavor innovations include:

  • Linden blossom (+118% YoY growth)
  • Yarrow (+94% YoY growth)
  • Geranium (+87% YoY growth)
  • Roselle (+87% YoY growth)
  • Butterfly pea (+16% YoY growth)
  • Calendula (+14% YoY growth)
  • Cornflower (+9% YoY growth)
  • Elderflower (+5% YoY growth)

Stand Out Statistics

  • Forecasts estimate the floral flavors market will grow at a CAGR of 5.7% through 2032 (Future Market Insights).
  • 46% of US consumers have looked for more ways to de-stress and relax since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (Mintel).
  • Consumers enjoy botanical flavors and are interested in trying new ones (Mintel).
healthy-looking salad in a blue bowl

What are the Experts Saying?

Like many food and beverage trendwatchers, we look forward to reading annual predictions. Leading industry experts often provide their perspectives and insights about upcoming trends. Here’s what a few voices have to say about florals and botanicals in 2023:

  • TastingTable’s 17 Food And Beverage Trends To Look For In 2023 predicts more functional ingredients incorporated into everyday products. De Soi is a non-alcoholic apéritif with botanicals and adaptogens like yuzu, lemongrass, L-theanine, reishi, and ashwagandha.
  • “Beverages as Medicine” made it in the top ten of Parade’s 19 Food and Drink Trends That Are Going to Blow up in 2023. The article highlights OLIPOP’s functional soda infused with botanicals, prebiotics, and other good-for-you ingredients.
  • Cozymeal also shines a spotlight on botanical beverages, saying to watch for elderflower, lavender, and more earthy flavors like amaro and absinthe.

Launch Spotlight

healthy-looking salad in a blue bowl

Protein-Powered Florals: Moo’s London Fog Protein Muffin Mix has a sweet vanilla taste with hints of floral black tea. The baking mix, called out as a “guilt-free” pre/post-workout snack, has 20 grams of protein per serving and is naturally sweetened with cane sugar and stevia (Mintel GNPD, September 2022).

healthy-looking salad in a blue bowl

Bubbly Botanicals: With a “bubbly burst of botanical flavors,” Amazon’s Aplenty Sparkling Hibiscus Tea delivers a fruity and floral taste to enhance any meal, snack, or moment (Mintel GNPD, February 2023). One five-star Amazon reviewer wrote, “I purchased this impulsively because of the elderflower and am so glad I did. Lightly floral, which shouldn’t be a surprise if you are familiar with hibiscus tea. The elderflower comes through.”

Mush-Boom of Flavor

Mushrooms are flourishing across the food and beverage landscape. Mintel calls their popularity “the great mushroom boom,” and Parade has dubbed it “mushroom mania.” We even had some fun coining our own term: “mush-boom”! While mushrooms may have started as a plant-based alternative, their hearty texture and umami flavor has helped them steal the spotlight across various categories. Portobello jerky? Reishi cocktails? Chanterelle ice cream? Shoppers are saying, “Yes, please!”

Mintel notes that mushrooms gained momentum in North America, with launches up 4.1% over the past five years. But manufacturers are “missing an opportunity to engage consumers by not emphasizing the unique flavor profiles of different varieties.” Some mushroom-forward products can feel generic because they lack descriptions of flavors or information about the types of mushrooms used. Building on nuanced flavor profiles will give mushroom lovers reasons to try new variations of their favorite earthy flavor.

Some food and beverage brands specify mushroom varietals on packaging, but most use the non-specific ‘mushroom’ flavor descriptor.

waffle bar with different toppings

Stand Out Statistics

  • 36% of US consumers have tried mushroom flavors in snacks and liked them; 19% haven’t tried them but would like to (Mintel).
  • 68% of US consumers have tried and liked mushroom as a flavor at restaurants (Mintel).
  • Social conversations about Mushrooms have increased by 12% over the past year (Tastewise).

What are the Experts Saying?

  • FoodMix Marketing Communications, a Chicago-based food marketing firm, highlighted mushrooms for their 2023 predictions. The firm notes mushrooms’ meaty texture and umami-rich flavor have helped the superfood secure its place in today’s culinary world.
  • Market research firm Datassential publishes an annual FoodBytes report with the upcoming year’s top ingredient and flavor trends. For 2023, the list highlights a return to earthy flavors and ingredients like mushrooms and spicey maple.
  • In their 19 Food and Drink Trends That Are Going to Blow up in 2023, Parade features “Mushroom Mania” and predicts this beloved superfood will be everywhere in 2023.

Launch Spotlight:

waffle bar with different toppings

Earthy Variations: Carbone’s Mushroom sauce has a delicate “woodsy” flavor from mature cremini mushrooms. The heat-and-serve sauce makes it easy to add some vibrant flavors to your favorite pasta dish (Mintel GNPD, February 2023).

waffle bar with different toppings

Plant Power: A “plant-powered elixir” from Rebbl has 16 grams of protein and a blend of Maca, Ashwagandha, and Reishi mushrooms. The functional beverage also has MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) from coconut, fats associated with efficient metabolism and energy (Mintel GNPD, March 2023).

Develop Your Next Down to Earth Food or Beverage with FlavorSum

What’s your next down-to-earth innovation? Whether you need help enhancing botanical ingredients or creating a memorable mushroom moment, FlavorSum’s experts can help! Connect with our team to learn how working with a flavor expert can help you navigate development hurdles and deliver delicious results.