Posted: March 14, 2023
Author: Rachael Jarzembowski, Marketing Manager

Mildly hot with global influences

Throughout the past several years, it’s safe to say we’ve learned to expect the unexpected. Consumers are cautiously optimistic. They’re still wary about things, yet they’re looking to have a bit of fun and adventure by trying new, exciting foods and flavors. 

So, what flavor trends can we expect to see as this year unfolds? Here are three trends we see influencing product innovation in the months ahead. 

1. Nuanced Heat 

The desire for new bold, intense flavor experiences is on the rise. While hot and spicy flavors are still trending, medium and mild heat levels appeal to a broader audience. Chilies can offer more than just heat – they can provide layers of flavor and add complexity to applications. The resulting products offer a more dynamic, nuanced flavor experience. Varieties of novel peppers and global sources of heat continue to gain momentum – like salsa macha, a Mexican chili crisp. 

Dialing down the heat and offering more mildly spicy international flavors attracts more consumers to try a new product than otherwise would have, due to the heat level. Research shows 70% of U.S. consumers prefer medium and mild spice levels, with only 26% preferring hot or extra hot spice levels (Source: Kantar Profiles/Mintel, 2022).

  • Example: Momofuku Chili Chocolate Crunch Bar
    • A limited-edition spicy-and-sweet chocolate bar – fruit-forward dark chocolate melded with Mexican chilies and garlic to achieve savory, spicy, and slightly sweet flavors. 

2. Global Inspiration 

As the world becomes more interconnected, so too do food and cuisines. New “fusion” cuisine reflects the culinary globalization of everyday life. Food is a means of showcasing different backgrounds, worldviews, and experiences in a way that is authentic to the individual. With the mingling of these various culinary styles and traditions comes the fusing and exploration of new flavors in fun and inventive ways. 

We all crave adventure and excitement – exploring new international cuisines is one way to appeal to this desire. Blending regional and far-flung cuisines and flavors to create new food and beverage formats brings intriguing, novelty with a hint of familiarity. Revisiting a more established, familiar cuisine, such as Mexican, with a regional twist from Guadalajara revitalizes it. Consumers have the comfort of trying something they recognize with the anticipation of a new flavor. It lets diners revisit a cuisine with a fresh perspective. 

Adding regional ingredients can refresh and elevate mainstreamed global cuisines in the eyes of the consumer while also adding a sense of authenticity, value, and adventure. 

  • Example: Middle Eastern Flavors
  • Middle Eastern cuisine is trending, but as it becomes more “mainstream,” adding or calling out regionally significant flavor cues and ingredients helps differentiate it, making if feel new all over again.
    • Sumac, an ingredient commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, grew 176% on U.S. menus from 2018 to 2021 (Mintel Menu Insights). 

3. International Fruits 

Global fruits have taken social media, menus, and retail offerings by storm, and it’s easy to see why. The new flavors, textures, and vibrant colors of these fruits provide people with a sense of escapism and adventure without the cost of travel. 

The versatility and complementary nature of international fruits allows for creative flavor pairings in both sweet and savory applications. Fruit’s natural “health halo” already resonates with consumers. Showcasing additional benefits beyond a fruit’s inherent healthiness provides value, because consumers already turn to produce for its health benefits. For example, not only is dragon fruit eye-catchingly beautiful, it’s also high in vitamins and antioxidants. In many ways, global fruit flavors can be considered “low hanging fruit” – presenting great opportunities to add a new, exciting flavor to a menu or product line, positioning it to succeed. 

  • Example: Citrus
    • Lime, for example, has proven itself versatile – being used in everything from pies to chips to burritos. Swapping lime with sudachi, a Japanese citrus fruit, adds an exciting, global twist to any of these sweet or savory flavor experiences while offering consumers a spin on a well-loved citrus flavor.

At Wixon, we understand innovation is essential to satisfy consumer desires for exciting foods and flavors. Our team of experts translate the latest trends into flavor systems that reflect your brands. Let’s talk. Reach out to your account manager or contact us at