Predictions Spotlight: Flavors for Feel Good Food and Beverages

by | Feb 23, 2023

At the end of every year, our insights team looks back at innovation activities and explores emerging trends to understand what’s ahead. We review the entire food and beverage landscape and then put a magnifying glass over the world of taste and flavor. For 2023, we broke our flavor predictions into four key categories:

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

Throughout 2023, we’ll examine each overarching theme in more detailed blog posts to inspire delicious innovations.

Join us as we dive deeper into our first round of in-depth predictions: flavors for feel-good food and beverages. Whether you’re targeting the mind, body, soul, or all three, flavors are essential for creating a pleasurable and often purposeful taste experience.

Holistic Health Picture

Discussions around health and wellness trends have resonated throughout the food and beverage industry for years, but representation in the market is still young. Only about ½ of the new foods and beverages launched in North America last year included a health-positioned claim, a slight uptick from the prior year. In 2023 and beyond, we expect to see more health-focused food and beverage offerings on shelves as awareness, interest, and brand education activities increase.

Formulators beginning to explore functionality can use flavor as an avenue for both moderate and perceived benefits. And, when it comes to the linkages between function and flavor, the connections extend from mental to physical health offerings. For instance, people readily associate citrus with immunity and lavender with sleep support.

Stand Out Statistics:

  • 61% of consumers globally say “healthier living” means following a healthy, nutritious diet (Innova).
  • 40% of US respondents want to consume more nutritious food/drinks (e.g., products packed with vitamins and minerals) (Mintel).
  • More than 1 in 5 consumers have recently bought food or beverage with specific digestive/gut health benefits (Innova).

What are the Experts Saying?

Predictions across the food and beverage industry are standard (and anticipated!) Many of the industry’s leading experts readily provide their perspectives about trends. Let’s hear what the industry has to say about health and wellness in 2023:

  • Food and Beverage Insider spotlights “continued focus on wellness” in their 5 Food and Beverage Trends to Watch in 2023. The publication notes that ‘a focus on health and wellness’ is here to stay.
  • While some formulators create healthy offerings to align with consumer desires, others respond to regulatory directives. In Food Dive’s 7 Trends Shaping Food and Beverage in 2023, they highlight recent labeling changes set forth by the FDA. The publication shares that food and beverage manufacturers may begin to explore reformulation to achieve the new “healthy” label.
  • In their 2023 Top Ten Trends report, Innova Market Insights notes that a mental health crisis has followed the “global health crisis.” The insights giant recommends brands seek a holistic understanding of health and wellness.

Launch Spotlight:

Hidden Nutrition: Bimbo Bakeries launches Sara Lee white bread with one cup of dehydrated vegetables per loaf. The vitamin-fortified sandwich staple offers no artificial colors, flavors, or high-fructose corn syrup (Mintel GNPD, November 2022).

The Gut Health Axis: Probiotic soda brand, Poppi, extends its broad range of gut-health and immunity-focused carbonated beverages with Doc Pop. The drink boasts only 5g of sugar, caffeine from green tea, and non-GMO project-verified certification (Mintel GNPD, February 2023)

Nourishing the Soul

With 2023 unfolding into another year of uncertainty and unexpected challenges (like inflation and geopolitical challenges), food and beverage innovators will continue exploring ways to offer emotional rewards. And, while functional ingredients may be popular and growing, the food and flavor can sometimes deliver calm, comfort, adventure, or excitement.

Flavor is powerful, with taste transporting people to a familiar memory, like pumpkin spice during the fall season, or providing ultimate indulgence, like a triple chocolate cake. Innova reports in their 2023 trends investigation that people seek ‘simple pleasure’ through food and beverage.


Stand Out Statistics:

  • 35% of US consumers eat comforting food as an action to relieve stress, while only 27% choose to pamper themselves instead (Mintel).
  • 42% of US survey respondents reported eating more comfort food from 2020-2021, and 33% planned to eat more in 2022 (The Food Group).

What are the Experts Saying?

  • In their 19 Food and Drink Trends That Are Going to Blow Up in 2023, Parade highlights “retro foods that remind you of childhood.”
  • Spoon University notes “Nostalgic Noms” in their Food Trends We Predict to See (And Eat) In 2023 The publication mentions the return of Y2K fashion trends, fast food staples, and movie and tv themes as hints of what’s to come.
  • Alex Beckett from Mintel’s Food & Drink division predicts a “disruption around indulgence, as the need to deliver pleasure will be heightened.” He shares that brands will need to reinvent how they think of indulgence with more sophisticated thinking.

Launch Spotlight:

Format and Flavor Work Together: General Mills takes a classic category and (cereal) brand and pairs it with a nostalgic taste profile (s’mores) to deliver a comforting eating experience that evokes childhood memories. (Mintel GNPD, January 2023)

Limited Time Indulgence: Target’s private label, Favorite Day, is releasing a new variety of their trail mix line with an indulgent strawberries and crème flavor. The combination of the “indulgent” labeling and “limited offering” designation is sure to intrigue consumers looking for an enjoyable snacking experience (Mintel GNPD, January 2023).

Develop Your Next Feel Good Food or Beverage Product with FlavorSum

Let FlavorSum help you create your next delightful innovation to calm or invigorate your customers. Whether it’s through masking functional ingredient additions or by creating memorable taste experiences, flavors can pave the way. Reach out to our team to discover how we can help!