As the meat industry continues to evolve and expand, staying up-to-date with the latest trends and consumer protein preferences in flavor is imperative. Protein consumers are craving new flavor experiences inspired by global cuisine and an exciting mix of flavors. This year we’ll see a significant shift towards bolder, more exotic flavors, an increase in plant-based products, and an emphasis on satisfying the palates of younger generations. Keep reading to learn more about the protein flavor trends making waves in 2023.
Meeting the demands of younger generations
As the meat industry continues to evolve, manufacturers are pushing for more diverse and unique options to target the palates of younger generations. A recent survey showed that Gen Z displayed a low engagement for once-beloved popular protein flavors like barbecue, garlic, and teriyaki. Manufacturers will look to restaurant menus to inspire new product innovations in 2023. As vibrant, global flavors dominate the culinary world, meat producers must be daring and creative in their product offerings, fusing new dynamic flavors, from spicy Korean bulgogi to tangy Jamaican jerks.
Another emerging trend is value-added meats and meat analogs packaged in marinades, rubs, and spices to simplify the shopping experience. Over half of the consumers consumed dark meat chicken, up from 47% in 2020, adding to the growing demand for value-added flavors that make it easy for consumers to prepare delicious and flavorful meals without spending much time in the kitchen. Moreover, companies can cater to various tastes and preferences by incorporating unique and innovative flavors into these meats and meat analogs. As a result, demand for these products will continue to grow in the coming years.
As more people adopt vegan and vegetarian diets, manufacturers have set their sights on developing plant-based protein products to meet consumer needs. A study from Innova Market Insights shows that 25% of consumers are using more plant protein than in previous years. With the industry adopting precision DNA sequencing technology, the potential for creating better-tasting and textured plant-based products is higher than ever. The acceptance of these products is widespread, as a growing number of consumers opt for plant-based foods that are healthier, more sustainable, and cruelty-free.
Consumer trends show shoppers are leaning towards incorporating a wide range of flavors from emerging cuisines that challenge their palate in new ways and exploring unique flavors that fall outside established options that already line supermarket shelves. Popular flavors combine heat and regional notes like Szechuan, hot honey, and Nashville hot.
Fusing heat and sweet
Younger generations, such as Millennials and Gen Z, opt for eclectic cuisine, gravitating towards meats with complex flavor profiles featuring a blend of heat and sweet, smoky notes and botanicals.
Packaged protein brands are finding new ways to reimagine classic Latin-inspired dishes for home cooking. Consumers increasingly desire to incorporate homemade Latin flavors into their recipes instead of purchasing pre-packaged food in the international aisle. This creates opportunities for packaged brands and retailers to develop new hybrid offerings that fuse together the best of both worlds.
Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern
Middle Eastern influences and flavors are expanding beyond basic flavor profiles. According to Mintel’s Menu Insights, tzatziki sauce has seen a whopping 16% increase on menus from Q2 2018 to Q2 2021. Additionally, consumption of Greek cuisine has grown by 1% since 2020. In the next several years, keep an eye out for meat products seasoned with exotic spices, such as Shawarma, Harissa, Peri Peri, and Za’atar
Nostalgia & Newstalgia
Nostalgic flavors continue to inspire new product development, with manufacturers putting a spin on classics to develop unique flavors, textures, and techniques targeted at ‘newstalgia’ for younger generational taste. This includes reinventing older products into healthier, more complex variations and relaunching discontinued favorites, with 71% of consumers saying they’re interested in purchasing nostalgic flavors from childhood.
With consumer trends always changing, Flavorseal’s seasoning technology can help processors explore new flavor options quickly and easily. If you’re looking to explore the latest protein flavor trends, take a look to see how our innovative meat packaging solutions can help.
T. Hasegawa USA Inc., Cerritos, CA, CA, 2022, Protein Trends.
Lawrence, Jaime. “2023 Food and Beverage Trends.” Flavor Insights, Jan. 2023, flavorinsights.com/insights/2023-food-and-beverage-trends