Charting Taste Trends: The Art, Science and Analytics Behind Kerry’s 2019 Flavour Predictions

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The 2019 Kerry Taste Charts are here: This behind-the-scenes look shows how innovations in consumer data collection helped us create our biggest taste trend report yet

In recent history, making taste and flavour predictions may have been tantamount to looking into a crystal ball—more guesswork than a research-backed approach. But thanks to new innovations in data collection and analysis, including proprietary social media listening tools which reflect general consumer sentiment, a more accurate forecast can be made about the new tastes consumers are most interested in trying and buying.

These state-of-the-art research techniques contributed to the 2019 Kerry Taste Charts, an annual analysis of the flavours and ingredients poised to impact the market in the coming year. The reports are a collaborative effort between Kerry’s marketing insights, research and development teams as well as our mixologists and culinary experts across channels, categories and regions. These groups work together to determine today’s trending flavours and anticipate taste for the future.

Click here to access the six 2019 Kerry Taste Charts—created for the U.S., Brasil, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

Keep reading to learn more about the forward-thinking techniques that were used to assemble these predictions and provide the food and beverage industry with a future-focused proprietary view into the flavours and ingredients shaping the taste market across sweet, beverage, savoury and salty snack categories.

How Taste Trends are Categorised

A decade ago, our first Taste Charts—then called Flavour Charts—focused on new flavours in the retail channel. Today, our taste trends methodology encompasses a more holistic view of the food and beverage market, looking at taste beyond flavour and considering products from retail and convenience stores as well as foodservice menu items.

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In the 2019 Kerry Taste Charts you will find taste predictions for:

  • Sweet: candy, confectionery, cookies, desserts, bars, cereal, sweet baked goods, spoonable yoghurt, etc.
  • Salty Snacks: chips, popcorn, meat snacks, puffed snacks, tortilla chips, etc.
  • Savoury: meats, meals, appetisers, sauces, dips, dressings, etc.
  • Beverages—Dairy and Hot: tea, coffee, nutritional beverages, shakes, hot cocoa, etc.
  • Beverages—Water and Cold: alcohol, beverage enhancers, water, soft drinks, juices, smoothies, etc.
  • Ingredients: innovative ingredients, including those impacting function and appearance as well as ingredients used as alternatives.
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The Four Stages of a Taste Trend

Since its inception, the Taste Chart program has used four groupings to depict the lifecycle of flavours: “Mainstream”, “Key”, “Up & Coming”, and “Emerging”. Flavours that are classified as Mainstream and Key in the Taste Charts can be defined as those that are ubiquitous within their category. Saying a flavour is Mainstream or Key implies that it is going to continue to be relevant for the foreseeable future. Flavours within the Up & Coming and Emerging groupings are fast-growing and trending flavours that are expected to create ripples in the industry.

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Building on Innovations in Consumer Data Collection

While we of course follow Instagram foodie influencers for clues about consumer behavior, our flavour and ingredient recommendations are more data driven than ever before. Our experts analyse point of sale data, product launches and menu penetration as primary data sources and compile these with internal insights, industry reports and consumer chatter.

This last bit, consumer chatter, is quantifiable in a way never before possible. Within Kerry, we are able to draw insights from our proprietary social media-powered food and beverage insights engine, which gives us a unique set of data points using real-time information. Not only is this data used in our flavour and ingredient analysis, but it also helps us identify how closely our predictions, past and present, mirror consumer chatter. 

We also use more traditional sources to draw insights from consumers. For example, below is a graphic look at the past 10 years of consumer chatter about coconut as a flavour and ingredient, as expressed by Google Trends. As you may remember—and as the graph accurately shows—coconut was an Emerging and Up & Coming Flavour between 2009 and 2013. Then, from 2013 on, we see coconut entering Key and Mainstream territory. Around this time there’s a surge in coconut product launches, and growth for the flavour remains high, although it eventually plateaus.


The Lifecycle of Coconut

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When viewed across categories, as we do with our Taste Charts, the story is a little different:

  • Coconut entered the Sweet Taste Chart as a Key Flavour in 2013, the bucket in which it remains in 2019.
  • On the Culinary Taste Chart, coconut was considered an Up & Coming Flavour in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2018, when the chart was renamed “Savoury”. In the 2019 edition, coconut was listed as Up & Coming within both the Salty Snacks and Savoury Charts.
  • Coconut has seen more movement in the Beverage Charts. It became established in Up & Coming in 2013 and 2014, moved to Key in 2015, and moved to Mainstream in 2017. Then, for 2018 and 2019, it moved back to Key in the charts for Beverages—Dairy and Hot as well as for Beverages—Water and Cold.  

From our analysis of flavours over the years, we observe that most flavours that change from year to year are found within the Up & Coming and Emerging buckets. These flavours either transition between the two buckets or move on or off the charts. When a flavour manages the jump from Up & Coming to Key, we expect the flavour to stay on the charts as a more established flavour in the years to come, as has been the case with coconut, sriracha, turmeric and many others.

Click here to access our 2019 Kerry Taste Charts. To learn how to partner with us on product research and innovation, contact Kerry.

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