Trends in the Food Service Industry: kokumi taste

Trends in the Food Service Industry: kokumi taste

International cuisine, less sweet desserts and colorful, functional ingredients are flourishing on menus, according to Mintel’s 2018 U.S. Flavor Trends report. The company explores the food service flavor trends that are hitting the mainstream, those that are just emerging and those poised for future growth in 2018 and beyond.

“Flavor is an ever-evolving art, ripe with opportunities for interpretation, innovation and creativity,” said Amanda Topper, associate director of food service research at Mintel. “Today, that opportunity lies in the expansion of international flavors 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 flavor also lies in creating healthy dishes without giving up satisfying taste.”

Modern Mediterranean

Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients are becoming more familiar — and more desirable — to consumers, Mintel said. Sixty-six per cent of U.S. consumers are interested in Middle Eastern foods at restaurants, and growth of Middle Eastern cuisine on U.S. restaurant menus grew 32% between 2015 and 2017. […]

Tempering the sweetness

Savory and tart flavors increasingly are popping up on menus as a way to offset the sweetness in desserts and baked foods, Mintel said.
“As diners often aim to strike a balance between health and indulgence, desserts are paired with flavors that temper their overall level of sweetness,” Mintel said. “While they may sound odd on paper, flavors like olive oil and vinegar are growing specifically as dessert flavors.” […]

Colorful meets functional

Flavor ingredients that add both color and healthful appeal to dishes are growing in popularity on menus. 51% of consumers are willing to try an unfamiliar ingredient if it provides a functional benefit, Mintel said, and color ups the appeal even more. […]
“Expect to see more health-forward menu items that feature visually exciting flavors and ingredients to boost their appeal among diners,” Mintel said.

A medley of spices

Spice blends allow consumers to experience global flavors in a more familiar format, Mintel said. These blends may emerge from a variety of cuisines, including African, Middle Eastern, and Asian.
“Spice blends create an easy way for operators to introduce diners to new international cuisines in an approachable way, while letting chefs experiment with personalizing classic blends to reflect their vision and interpretation,” Mintel said. “While the components that make up each blend can differ, what remains constant is the sheer versatility of each spice blend with various foods.” […]

International spreads

Sauces and condiments also provide an approachable avenue for consumers to try new flavors. 22% of U.S. diners said they would be motivated to try an unfamiliar flavor if it is paired with a familiar format, Mintel said, and 28% of condiment shoppers said international varieties help them experiment with new cuisines.
Consumers are interested in seeing more international sauces and condiments in foods, Mintel said. Forty-nine per cent said they would like to see more Indian flavors, 33% Middle Eastern flavors and 25% African flavors. […]

Meaty flavors minus the meat

The shift to more plant-based alternatives has led to a desire for meaty flavors without the actual meat, Mintel said.
“Diners still crave the savory flavors they find in meat products,” Mintel said. “These flavors can be achieved through the same methods that are typically used to cook meats, such as curing, grilling, and smoking. Specific preparation methods can turn ordinary ingredients into suitable meat alternatives.” […]

Future trend: Kokumi taste

In the past few years, consumers have become more and more aware of umami as the fifth taste. The savory flavor is abundant in high-glutamate foods such as tomatoes, meat and soy and has even showed up in restaurant names, such as Umami Burger.
“Meanwhile,” Mintel said, “Umami’s lesser known sister taste, kokumi, has not yet entered the mainstream.”
Kokumi, translated from Japanese as “delicious,” provides a sense of balance and harmony in foods, Mintel said. The taste concept is associated with flavors achieved by slow-cooking, aging and ripening. It may be defined as a sense of richness, heartiness and complexity.
Ippudo, a New York-based ramen restaurant, offers a Miso-Glazed Hoku Hoku Potato dish that is high in kokumi. It includes potatoes, avocado, eringi mushrooms and tofu tossed in a spicy miso butter sauce all topped with a poached egg and cilantro.
Miso glazed potatoes“Kokumi can work synergistically with umami flavors as well as improve other attributes,” said Stephanie Mattucci, associate director of food service for Mintel. […]
In the next five years, Mintel expects more chefs and scientists to turn to kokumi to create complex flavors. Yeast extract and fermented soy are kokumi-boosting ingredients that may be added to replicate the flavors of slow-cooking, add oiliness and richness to lower-fat foods and retain the salty sensation in reduced-sodium snacks.

“Operators should think about ways they can boost the overall deliciousness of their dishes while creating healthy offerings consumers are craving,” Mintel said. “We will see further research provide future operators with more tools in their arsenal to create the taste and mouthfeel of slow-cooked foods without the time investment.”

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