Flavor trends often start in beverage and confection, making their way down to bars and snacks, and soon after, dairy. (The exception would be the Greek yogurt flavor. We started that one!)
Photo source: Coolhaus
After conferring with ingredient suppliers and manufacturers around the world (my Fit Bit’s readings are proof I walked the walk at the many trade shows representing all these product category during the past couple months), I am very comfortable with the following forecast of what ice cream flavor concepts Americans will be consuming in 2015.
But first, the science behind ice cream is revealed by the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association (IFTSA), which produced a video explaining how food science plays an important role in the creation of ice cream. View the video and fact sheet HERE.
Berry On Dairy’s Seven Flavor Trends Driving Ice Cream Innovation for 2015 and Beyond
- Salty Caramel: Watch out vanilla and chocolate, you have some competition. Salty caramel is no longer just a flavor of ice cream. It has become a base flavor to which layers of flavors and inclusions are added. The sweet and salty combination is the perfect back drop for all types of additions, including bitter, crunchy, heat and savory. A touch of brown sugar, honey or maple can provide a subtle differentiation.
- Coconut Water, Milk, Cream: Building on the coconut craze that has taken over the beverage aisle, real coconut ingredients combined with dairy are proving to make a nice base flavor for frozen desserts. Coconut appeals to the health- and wellness-seeking consumer and complements the growing trend of tropical and citrus flavors. Coffee and tea flavors also work very well with coconut. Think energy and sports recovery in a scoop of ice cream.
- Craft Brews and Other Libations. Like coconut, the flavor of beer, wine and spirts can serve as a canvas to layer other on-trend flavors. This is being driven by the Millennial consumer who has an obsession with mixology. While Millennials still enjoy microbrews and wine tastings, they have embraced spirits and mixed cocktails, something the generation before them (Gen X) had ignored. Think Bourbon Pecan Pie, Buttered Rum, Cinnamon Whisky and Salty Tequila.
- Pepper: Black, Cracked and Hot: Milk has long been used to mellow heat levels in the mouth after consuming hot and spicy foods. As a frozen dessert, the milk allows the flavors of peppers to be tasted and not overpowered by the sensation of heat. Peppers also add visual appeal. With cracked peppercorns, you even get crunch. Think Chipotle Chocolate.
- Burnt, Charred, Roasted and Smoky: Umami cooking flavors add an element of surprise to everything from nuts and seeds to chocolate and…you guessed it…salty caramel. Think bacon, but without the piggy.
- Herbs and Spice Make Ice Cream Nice: Herbs and spices provide an element of health and wellness to an indulgent dessert. A little goes a long way in terms of taste. Building on the salty caramel trend, the flavor of speculoos, a cookie from the Netherlands, is starting to become popular in the States. This shortcrust cookie has a sweet butter flavor and contains a spice blend consisting of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg. The speculoos flavor works great in ice cream and also makes a flavorful inclusion, possibly coated with caramel or chocolate. Ginger, which is an important flavor in speculoos, is driving all types of flavor innovation because it provides two types of heat, one that’s refreshing and another that’s spicy. There’s also a healthful halo surrounding ginger, and it has strong ethnic associations. Think Caramelized Ginger Cheesecake.
- A Bountiful Harvest: The bigger the better, the more the merrier…fruits, vegetables and nuts give consumers permission to indulge on ice cream.
- Don’t forget to claim an ingredient’s origins in the product description.
- Limited editions or a seasonal positioning create an urgency to purchase.
- Tell a story. Take the consumer on an adventure.
Let’s take a look at some recently introduced products that are ahead of the flavor game.
Hudsonville Ice Cream has Sea Side Caramel, which is vanilla ice cream with caramel sea salt truffles and a salted caramel ribbon.
Bulla Dairy Foods has launched a new line of Coconut Frozen Yogurts in Australia. The frozen novelties feature a creamy coconut center and a tropical fruit frozen yogurt shell. There are three flavors: Lime, Mango and Pineapple.
Victory Brewing Company, a popular Philadelphia-area craft brewer, now makes ice cream with wort, the flavorful, non-alcoholic liquid that results from the brewing of malted barley and fresh Brandywine water, is the base of some of Victory’s most popular beverages. The three concepts are: Hopped Up Devil (flavors of cayenne, cinnamon and coffee along with chocolate flakes), Storm Drop (chocolate drops against a creamy chocolaty-stout base reminiscent of malted milk balls) and Triple Monkey (with banana and pecan swirl).
Coolhaus, the architecturally inspired gourmet ice cream company, recently rolled out Dad’s Secret Stash, which is scotch spiced-flavored ice cream with M&Ms, marshmallow and smoked salt. Also new is Grapefruit, Tarragon and Gin, which, as the name suggests, is made with fresh organic grapefruit, tarragon and Adirondack gin from upstate New York.
Portland, Oregon’s booming cocktail culture, as well as the state’s famous berries, vegetables, meats, and drinks, provide artisan ice cream maker Salt & Straw endless possible combinations. If these recently introduced concepts don’t provide inspiration for your next flavor creation, then I don’t know what will.
(By the way, I happen to be in Portland at the moment to speak at an Oregon State University dairy innovation conference. I had a chance to taste a number of these concepts yesterday. All of them impressed me.)
For this month, the company is offering Salted Caramel Thanksgiving Turkey. It’s a head rush of sweet and salty with a pinch of adventure. It’s all the flavors of a roasted turkey, its juices and the caramelized onions underneath, packed into a turkey fat caramel ice cream, then speckled with handmade fried turkey skin brittle.
Rhubarb & Saffron Champagne Cocktail Ice Cream is subtly yeasty from the champagne with a tart and carefully flavored ribbon of saffron and rhubarb jelly.
Strawberry with Cilantro Lime Cheesecake Ice Cream uses locally grown strawberries and refreshing cilantro.
Goat Cheese Marionberry Habanero Ice Cream uses Sweet Fire flavored chevre from Portland Creamery and swirls of Marionberry jam infused with habanero peppers.
Black Raspberries and Pork Belly Ice Cream takes advantage of Oregon black raspberries, which can only be harvested for three weeks out of the year, making for an incredibly rare and unique berry experience. Taking advantage of their deep flavor, the berries are paired with a salty, smoky pork belly ice cream.
Tomato Water Olive Oil Sherbet uses Portland-grown ripe tomatoes with locally produced olive oil (yes, olives do grow along the West Coast) and a touch of lemon zest.