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January 19th, 2015
a taste of things to come
by Myles Ritson

If you want to know about the latest trends in food then a stroll through Borough Market or a search on Amazon will give you a good steer. But about this time each year, for the past 15 years, some of the world’s greatest and most progressive food companies have stopped to wait for one publication – The Global Flavor Forecast from McCormick.

It’s not a record of trends – it’s a prediction of what flavours, ingredients and dishes will fill our restaurants, takeaways and domestic kitchens. It’s therefore a mix of the apparently bizarre to the easily embraceable. This year the theme, ‘Global Blends on the Move’, predicts the rise of shichimi togarashi (a Japanese spice) alongside the migration of shawarma from holiday destination street food to takeaways.

I recently attended a food trends conference and what was striking was that most of the trends being shared had been predicted by McCormick. So how do they do it? That, like all great recipes, is a secret. While they have a formidable R&D centre stuffed with grade-A scientists, the creation of the trend forecast is done through a fusion of insight, global and local marketing, culinary and sensory specialists. They know their consumers inside out and flavour is in their blood.

Look at chipotle. Anthony Palmer, global consumer innovation, business director at McCormick, says: “When we first identified chipotle as a flavour to watch in 2003 many people couldn’t even pronounce it, but today, it’s a household name.”

So what are the other predictions that resonate with us based on the insight innovation work we’ve been doing with our global food and restaurant clients? Salt & Sour – the descendant of the Salty Sweet Caramel phenomena predicted in 2012 that’s now mainstream – is exciting.

As an increasing number of consumers embrace taste experiences over safe delivery of old favourites, organoleptic clashes like this offer excitement, intrigue and a break to routine. Clashes can easily become road crashes however – the real genius lies in working out which dislocations, like sour cherry, bacon and thyme salt really work.

As featured on thegrocer.co.uk http://bit.ly/1TDAiyi