Food flavours for balance and harmony

Market intelligence agency Mintel has identified major flavour trends that will influence the products on health store shelves.

Middle Eastern cuisine has become an inspiration for fusion flavours, while ‘less sweet’ desserts featuring ingredients such as olive oil and vinegar are gaining popularity in the US, and functional ingredients are adding colour and flavour to food and drinks in western markets.

Meanwhile, Mintel predicts spice blends, sauces and condiments will introduce diners to emerging international cuisines, while new spin on seasonings and preparation methods will bring meaty flavours to both meat and vegetables alike.

Looking ahead, Mintel expects to see chefs and scientists push the limits of creativity to provide a sense of balance and harmony in foods through ‘kokumi,’ which adds complexity and depth to dishes.

Both the umami and kokumi taste sensations are activated by amino acids or small peptides. Researchers postulate that umami and kokumi are evolutionary sensations that point to the presence of proteins and amino acids in a food, in a similar way that sweet is an indicator for carbohydrates, sour for acids and salts for minerals. Kokumi taste sensations are mostly connected with glutamyl-derived di- and tri-peptides, such as the antioxidant glutathione.

Understanding the sensory effects of umami and kokumi flavours in designing foods, healthy or not, will continue to have important impacts on how we perceive, taste, and choose foods in the future.

“Flavour is an ever-evolving art, ripe with opportunities for interpretation, innovation and creativity,” says Amanda Topper, Associate Director of Foodservice Research at Mintel. “Today, that opportunity lies in the expansion of international flavours and ingredients and, in the years ahead, we predict the ingenuity of new dishes will come down to enhancing the chemistry of ingredients to create hearty masterpieces. The future of flavour also lies in creating healthy dishes without giving up satisfying taste.”

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