McCormick Celebrates 20 Years of Flavor Forecast With a Look Back at Top Trends From the Last Two Decades

An influential predictor of the trends that will shape our culinary world, the McCormick Flavor Forecast spotlights past trends that continue to drive exciting flavor explorations

Over the past two decades, the McCormick Flavor Forecast® has identified top trends and ingredients that have shaped the future of flavor. As a global leader in flavor, these discoveries have been foundational to food and expanded how we cook, flavor and eat in exciting ways. Releasing as a celebratory 20th edition report, the McCormick Flavor Forecast Looking Back to Look Forward reflects on the evolution of the most influential flavors, culinary trends and recipes.

Flavor Forecast

From pumpkin pie spice and chamoy to dukkah and turmeric, these forecasted flavors have seen incredible success across consumer products, restaurant menus and online recipes. In a unique year that has brought home cooking to the forefront, this report focuses on four themes that continue to shape our tastes as we yearn for comfort and familiarity, yet also a bit of fiery and global experience.

Flavor Forecast Theme: Sweet & Seasonal Satisfaction
Seasonal profiles’ ‘limited time’ nature is what makes them resonate on an emotional level, triggering fond memories of the season. In 2010, pumpkin pie spice was identified in the Flavor Forecast ‘Always in Season’ trend and since then has seen a 207% increase in food and drink retail product names.1 Today, pumpkin pie spice immediately calls to mind cooler temperatures and warm, indulgent lattés. McCormick’s own research indicated that people were drawn more to the spice element than they were the flavor profile of pumpkins, and the versatility of the pumpkin pie spice perfectly lends itself to sweet and savory dishes.

Flavor Forecast Theme: Spicy (R)evolution
There’s never been a shortage of bold and spicy tastes in the 20-year history of Flavor Forecast. Often tangy is paired with spicy in global sauces and condiments like sambal and chamoy. In 2014, chamoy was featured in the ‘Mexican World Tour’ trend when people were craving new aspects of the bright, casual cuisine of Mexico. This condiment is made from pickled fruit, lime, spice and chilies and is most used as an ingredient in appetizers, entrees and drinks, such as spicy margaritas and micheladas. Chamoy has seen a 1,115% increase in US menu mentions between 2014 to 2020.2

Flavor Forecast Theme: Global Finds
In a year when global travel has become limited, the desire for hyper-local tastes has increased even more. Some consumers crave authentic global dishes, while others prefer more approachable fusions. In 2013, North African dukkah was forecasted for its satisfying flavor and distinct texture. This simple mix of toasted nuts and seeds can be customized to be salty, sweet or spicy. Typically sprinkled on olive oil-dipped pita bread, it’s delicious with vegetables, pasta and rice, or rubbed onto seafood and meats before cooking. Simply put, dukkah can’t be stopped, as there has been a 267% increase in US menu mentions of the spice since 2013.2

Flavor Forecast Theme: Empowered Eating & Drinking
Health and wellness have always been top-of-mind in past forecasts. Lifestyle and food are more intertwined than ever before, and flavor doesn’t need to be compromised to meet nutritional needs. Turmeric was first emerged in the 2003 Flavor Forecast and then again in 2016, within the ‘Blends with Benefits’ trend. Since appearing in the report, use of this colorful spice continues to grow, with a 253% increase in food and drink retail product names over the past six years.Blended with cocoa, cinnamon and nutmeg, turmeric goes great in smoothies, drinks and baked goods.

“The Flavor Forecast has long been a staple in the culinary world, introducing consumers to flavors they’ve grown to love,” said Executive Chef Kevan Vetter of McCormick. “In what has been an unprecedented year, many of us have sought refuge in the kitchen. We’ve discovered new creations but have also returned to familiar flavors that spread joy. We have enjoyed looking back on how some of those comforting flavors were first identified by our talented global team, and later gained popularity in home kitchens everywhere.”

At McCormick we’re standing together for the future of flavor because we believe its greatest potential lies ahead. Everyone is invited to revisit and rediscover these influential flavors from the past through recipes that are easy and delicious to make at home available at www.McCormick.com. And for those curious about what trends we have to look forward to in the new year, McCormick’s newest Flavor Forecast with exciting predictions and flavors will be released in Spring 2021.

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