Predictions Spotlight: Elevated Taste Experiences

by | Jun 8, 2023

Are you ready for our third predictions spotlight? We’ve been diving deeper into our flavor predictions for 2023. As a quick reminder, we broke out our predictions into four key categories.

This week, we’re exploring our predictions for elevated taste experiences. From contrasting flavor combinations and dual tastes to indulgent, decadent flavors, here are key trends to help inspire your innovation journey.

Dual Taste Experiences

Fusing two contrasting flavors, sweet and spicy, can help bring more adventure to the table. You might see them called “fusion flavors” or “sweet plus,” but no matter the catchy name, people are craving complex and unexpected flavor combinations. One buzzy “sweet plus” flavor is “hot honey,” with Google searches up 72% in 2022 compared to 2021. You’ll find the sweet and spicy blend in snack chips, syrups, and on many food service menus.

We expect the dual taste trend to continue, but with even more creative ways to add different textures and flavors. For example, pickling sweet fruits like strawberries can add a new dimension to a sweet-sour pairing. Some innovators are adding creaminess to sweet-spicy flavors, like fried chicken ice cream sandwiches with spicy honey or hot honey fried cornbread ice cream.

Stand Out Statistics

  • Consumer interest in complex heat grew by 20.5% in the 12 months ending in July 2022, compared with 8.3% growth in business interest (Spoonshot).
  • Interest in hot honey in frozen desserts is up 150% over the past two years (Tastewise).
  • In Canada, 38% of confectionery eaters are looking for products with a sweet and savory flavor combination (Mintel).

What are the Experts Saying?

We look forward to reading the industry’s food and beverage predictions every year. Leading experts often provide their perspectives and key takeaways about upcoming trends. Here’s what the industry has to say about dual taste experiences in 2023:

  • Cozymeal gave “Spicy Bakes” the number five spot on their Top 23 Food Trends for 2023. They predict flavor combinations like Mexican hot chocolate, mango habanero, and chili raspberry will show up in cakes, cookies, and pies.
  • In an Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) article, Liz Moskow, principal of Bread & Circus Future Food Advisory, anticipates growing interest in other global flavors. Moskow suggests brands will drive different iterations of this mix-and-match trend, like pairing sweet and umami flavors.
  • Datassential’s Flavor Trends for 2023 and Beyond features two spicy sweet flavor combinations. Mangonada, a frozen mango sorbet with Tajin, is number two on the top ten list, and spicy maple has the fourth spot.

Launch Spotlight

M&M Food Market’s single-serve Sweet Sriracha Chicken & Noodle Bowl


Balanced Spice: M&M Food Market’s single-serve Sweet Sriracha Chicken & Noodle Bowl features “delightfully balanced sweetened sriracha sauce” with bell peppers and lo mein noodles (Mintel GNPD, March 2023).

A jar of Vlasic Sweet Heat Chips

Spicy Spin: Vlasic gave their regular dill pickles a “sweet and spicy spin” with Sweet Heat Chips. The website calls out a medium spice level that combines the right amount of “heat and sweet” (Mintel GNPD, January 2023).

P-Nuttles sweet n spicey snack mix

Sweet and Spicy: P-Nuttles describes this snack mix as a “sweet and spicy cajun snack sensation!” The brand’s classic crunchy butter toffee peanuts combine spicy corn and sesame sticks, chili crescents, and toasted corn to satisfy sweet and spicy appetites (Mintel GNPD, February 2023).

Pure Indulgence

In the midst of continuous change, people look for moments of simple indulgent pleasure. Innova predicts consumers will find creative ways to “elevate the everyday,” and Mintel notes that food and drink brands position themselves as a necessity during tough times. Brands can help deliver moments of pleasure and escapism through flavor and storytelling.

Flavors associated with indulgence and decadence, like dark chocolate or caramel, can help create small moments of joy in an otherwise busy or stressful day. Adding an indulgent twist to nostalgic flavors can help us recall happy memories and transport us briefly to another time and place. The most indulgent snacks are chocolate confectionery, cakes, pastries, and sweet goods (Innova).


Stand Out Statistics

  • 43% of US consumers are motivated by indulgent flavors when choosing a frozen treat to try (Mintel).
  • 52% of millennials are consuming more chocolate because they are indulging more (Mintel).
  • 30% of global consumers find the richness of flavor the most important driver of enjoyment and pleasure in food (Innova).

What are the Experts Saying?

  • Alex Beckett, Director of Mintel Food & Drink, commented, “Looking ahead to 2023, I think we will see disruption around indulgence, as the need to deliver pleasure will heighten. Indulgence will demand more sophisticated thinking, [for example] around the power of anticipation and complex, joy-bringing flavor combinations.”
  • Prepared Foods notes that “consumers are poised to splurge in small ways on affordable pleasures such as snacks that bring a high level of enjoyment for a low price.”
  • Nutritional Outlook featured “escapism” in their 2023 Flavor Trends for Food and Beverage. The article predicts that whimsical flavors or flavors that take consumers on a journey will do well in 2023.

Launch Spotlight:

Dark Chocolate Cookie Bark from Tate’s Bake Shop

Chocolatey Snacking: Dark Chocolate Cookie Bark from Tate’s Bake Shop uses the “uniquely crispy” cookie and covers it in rich chocolate for an “indulgent, snackable treat (Mintel GNPD, February 2023). Reviewers on love the concept and the great taste, but some note the price will make this a special treat.

Reviewers left positive comments on
Orangesicle Cheesecake bites dipped in chocolate from Kroger’s Private Selections

Indulgent Bites: The “rich and indulgent” Orangesicle Cheesecake bites dipped in chocolate from Kroger’s Private Selections give shoppers a way to enjoy a sweet moment in smaller portions (Mintel GNPD, March 2023).

Coffee Mate’s new co-branded Non-Alcoholic Kahlúa & Cremé Coffee Creamer enables coffee drinkers to "be your own barista"

Elevate Your Routine: Coffee Mate’s new co-branded Non-Alcoholic Kahlúa & Cremé Coffee Creamer enables coffee drinkers to “be your own barista” and add a splash of Kahlúa to the morning routine. Mintel reports 61% of consumers surveyed said they would likely or definitely buy this product, significantly outperforming other products in the subcategory (Mintel GNPD, February 2023).

Develop Your Elevated Food or Beverage with FlavorSum

What’s your next elevated taste innovation? FlavorSum’s experts can help you create memorable experiences with contrasting flavors or create moments of indulgence that shoppers are craving. Collaborating with our flavor and applications teams can help you navigate development hurdles and speed time to market. Connect with us to get started!