A Little Food For Thought: Are You Trending?


Sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami, and now fatty, oh my! With all of our 6 tastes, an ever evolving mixture of culinary and health knowledge, and the constant fickleness in our personal tastes, it is no wonder it’s difficult to successfully produce a star product! We at Horizon Custom Bakery and also Ne-Mo’s Bakery, another Horizon Food Group brand, are constantly trying to stay in the loop and look at trends for our clients and our own products. If your in the biz of food production, you have to face it…it’s all about sifting through current trends and deciding what is fad, fashion, trend, or going to be classic.  After taking on a recent task of coming up with product ideas based on 2015 food trends, we thought that it would be perfect to share some of our finds with you to possibly inspire new concept ideas in you the, food production team member, or to encourage you, the at home cook, to try something new in the kitchen. So, here is the word on what we saw.

If you were thinking peppers, harissa, sour, bitter, maple syrup, togarashi, hemp, or smoked, you are on the money because these are some of the many wonderful flavors and ingredients that are not only taking center stage in 2015, but they are catapulting well into 2016 and maybe beyond (Nutrition Unplugged).  Crazy flavors are emerging and that’s ok! Why you ask? Check out your consumers.

Consumers: Screaming For Change

According to Mintel, 57% of American consumers would classify themselves as adventurous eaters and 82% of them are open to trying new flavors. Watch out foodies; you’re not so niche anymore! We also can now see almost three-fourths of all Americans are also getting interested in food and food culture discussions (ift.org).  If Millennials are the market you’re looking at, here are a few tidbits about some of their preferences (in regards to c-stores and restaurants) (Data Essentials)(Splendid).

  • Out of 1000 menu items, they were much more attracted to sweet foods and beverages, as well as, hybrid pastries.
  • They shied away from ubiquitous familiar and classic dishes.
  • “They have a higher average purchase intent for new items and limited-time offerings.”
  • 40% Will order something different every time they order
  • 30% Eat foods that are certified organic versus their counterparts, GenXs (21%) & Boomers (15%).
  • They eat out the most at lunch and tend to eat 4 smaller meals a day at non-traditional times.Now that we know American consumers, especially Millennials, are looking for something new and exciting, let’s take a peek at some of the flavors and types of foods that have been tickling their fancy.

Hyper-Health-Conscious Much?

Yep, to the max! People are getting smarter about what they eat. We have gained so much information over time about health, nutrition, food, and food preparation, and with technology, we have the ability to rapidly share all of this information with one click. Also, with the growing acknowledgement and concern over environmental and morality issues, more are choosing products that are sustainable and organic. It’s as if we have reached a time in history that screams…GO GREEEEN! Here are a few trends that are proving our slow & steady progression into healthnut-ism.

 Organic Is The Name Of The Game


 Are you and your brand (meals if you are an at home chef) getting healthy yet? Well, they should because organic/better-for-you is in and here to stay. Carefully looking at labels and production, there are core natural consumers who are very concentrated on the products they buy. These are the people that are driving this movement, and they are willing to pay a little extra to get these products. These “natural product innovations come from disruptive brands that are laser-focused on providing solutions that meet” these core natural consumers’ needs (Progressive Grocer). What started out as “core natural consumers” is now extending its reach to a much larger group of people. To prove this, both Baking Business and the Progressive Grocer have reported that the sales from organic foods and non-foods in conventional grocery stores have hit approximately $40 billion, and organic food sales have are 5% of total U.S. food sales. Baking Business dives a little deeper to find that “68% – nearly 80% of households in Southern states and nearly 90% on the West coast and in New England” include organic products in their purchases. It seems like this is where the market is going and probably a place to have some presence.

Squeaky Clean, Maybe Even Clear

haagendazfiveClean label…What does that even mean anymore? With over a quarter of new product launches being clean labeled or labeled with “natural”, it is easy to lose the meaning of what that actually means. The industry is and will definitely being seeing a push by consumers for more transparent labeling (Biscuit People).

Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free Menu Please!


It’s no fad diet! Eric Richard, education coordinator for IDDBA, advises that 50% of Millennials are placing high importance on digestion-related health claims (Progressive Grocer). This data + the growth in educated shoppers = paleo, vegan, gluten free! We should expect a flood of special diet request, so whether you have read Wheat Belly or not, this trend has a solid spot in becoming a lifestyle.

Rocking Some Extra Healthy Substitutes



Matcha know about this? You should know that Matcha is 100% natural, organic green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder. The main difference between matcha and brewed green tea is that with matcha you are getting the whole tea leaf.  With brewed green tea, the water is only extracting a fraction of the green tea’s benefits. 1 Glass of matcha is equivalent to the nutritional values and antioxidant content of 10 glasses of regular brewed green tea, and it has 20 times the amount of antioxidants than a serving of pomegranates or blueberries (Matcha Source). Matcha also gives the added benefit of having 20 times more the amino acids than traditional green tea with less of that intense energy (Spoon University).  These are all great advantages you can give your customers, as well as, great for acquiring those organic “core natural consumers” we talked about earlier. Matcha is flexible and can be added to anything. Check out this link for some recipes.

Plant-Based Proteins

Maybe a little less shocking is the fact that we are seeing 44% more protein on menus than we have since 2010. We are the U.S. we like our meat, so it makes sense. However, we aren’t talking meat (DataEssential).  People are trading in that hard to digest piece of beef for a serving of hearty fruit, vegetables, grains (with an emphasis on ancient grains), and nuts. Here is a list of plant-based proteins that might work for your recipe. The following are some of the biggest and baddest proteins on the scene in 2015 and beyond.



Coming out of Ethiopia, Teff is the hot next thing after this recent quinoa craze says Molly Siegler, Whole Foods Market Culinary Content Editor. Hiding behind that delicious mild, sweet, and nutty flavor, teff, an ancient grain, is a load of nutrition, such as high calcium, iron, fiber, and protein. Did we mention it was naturally gluten free? Teff has the ability to be a substitute for cornmeal, and it is perfect for baking and either as a side or main dish (Every Day Health). If you are looking to cater to a gluten free palate in your baking or cooking efforts this should be your first substitute to check out.

Hemp Products

Hemp Products

With all the publicity wrapped around the issue of marijuana legalization, especially in 2014, there has been a revival of this so-called “forbidden” plant. Whether you hang on the side of pro or con for legalization, the truth remains that hemp, in its non-intoxication form, it can boast beautiful returns on nutrition, supplying ample fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and a tantalizing nutty flavor.  With this plants agility and being the topic of discussion, it is in bloom everywhere! You can see it in “Daily Greens Hemp Milks, Tempt Hemp Yogurt, GoodBites Raw Chocolate Truffles, RawFoodz CheeSauce, and even at your local conventional grocery (CNN; GoDairyFree.org).

Flavors To Watch Out For

The bitter truth…


Bitter is the new bold! Well, that is what we are hearing from Baum+Whiteman, Food Business News, & many more big names in the business. Trends are showing that people are wanting bigger and bolder tastes, and they are getting their via bitter. We are seeing a larger interest for darker coffees and chocolates, next-gen cruciferous veggies like collard greens and cauliflower, frisee, and arugula, hoppy beers, and more bitters in craft cocktails. With dessert alone, a study indicated that each year the consumption of dark chocolate is rising by an average of 5% (Food Business News; Houston Chronicle).

Make up your mind, Sweet/Savory?


Such juxtaposition…but it’s working! According to Statista in a survey of professional chefs across the US 59% say this is a hot trend for 2015 (Food Fanatics). People have been doing this for a while, such as a chocolate covered pretzel, but now this marrying of two opposites has hit an all time high. For more great ideas, check out some unusual yet awesome pairings from Spoon University.

 Or Spice & Sweet & Spicy?


According to MenuMonitor data, spicy can be seen every where on menus and is spreading to every food category, such as Gold Coast’s Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate. “In Fact, more consumers today than in 2011 indicate that they enjoy spicy flavors (ift.org). That’s not it. The NPD Group has found that “56% of households have hot sauce on hand. Females age 18-44 and 55-64 and males age 18-54 and 65+ eat more than the average amount of hot sauce over the course of a year.” Overall, DINKs take down more hot sauce than anyone (Progressive Grocer). That’s why chips like “Spicy Sweet Chili” Doritos are such a hit. To check out how well sweet and spicy play together, check out Salem Baking’s hatch chile chocolate chip cookies!


Let’s talk about Sriracha. This sriracha obsession just seems to be hitting us hard in 2015. It is probably because it too is a little combo of sweet and spicy. Made from chili peppers, sugar, garlic, distilled vinegar, and salt, it is a little sweeter than most American hot sauces; Oh, and it’s every where in every thing! We can even see I in Rouge’s Sriracha Hot Stout. This sauce, according to the Progressive Grocer, is now in 9% of US households and 16% of households are headed by someone under 35. Not too shabby for a sauce that hasn’t been in the US public eye for long.


To Toast Or Not To Toast…


This last winter at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco one of the most surprising flavors on deck for the year was toast. No, not toasted! I mean like a piece of bread toasted and just buttered up to perfection, maybe even drizzled with some cinnamon sweetness, mmm… getting hungry. This delicious flavor is being added to chocolates, tea, ice cream, cupcakes; you name it (USA Today). What would you create with a toast flavor?

  Honey, you’ve been on my mind.


Firmenich, the No. 2 world wide in the flavor and fragrance business, has named honey the flavor for 2015! With the growing conversations on the drawbacks of less than natural sweeteners and the relationship between these sweeteners and obesity, people are looking for a more natural way to hit that sweet note while not sacrificing sweetness and gaining extra calories (Food Product Design). Honey has consistently been growing for the last few years and continutes to see growth not only in the United State but also world wide.  According to Mintel’s data, honey has shown it’s versatility with flavors varying across location and it can be seen tangoing with other flavors, such as Honey + Hot Sauce, honey braised short ribs, and even honey fried oysters. Mintel also says that although ubiquitous it has the staying power to eventually stand right next to classic flavors, like: chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla (Bake Mag).

Are you getting salty?


Thinking that salted caramel was so last season? Wrong. Both Baum+Whiteman & Technomics agree (as do many others) that salty delight is on the rise.  According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, of a 100 items reviewed, salt is growing the most and has even catapulted by 19% since 2014. Think about some buttered popcorn pot de crème with a drizzle of caramel and a dash of some glorious Hawaiian sea salt.

Delicious Delights Inspired By…

 Ethnic Flavors


The United States is truly a melting pot! As technology allows us to connect more and with the increase in ethnically diverse citizens, especially Hispanic and Asian, we are seeing a lot more cultural influences on our foods. It’s becoming clear that we are seeing a higher interest for new cultural cuisine and even more so from places with lesser known regional flavors.  Gourmet Marketing agrees that 2015 and the years following will see a higher demand for Ethnic and Asian cuisines, and they even go a step further to predict that “popular Chinese, Thai and Japanese will lose ground to smaller Asian nations like Korea and Vietnam.” Also suggested was that we can expect to see a lot more fusion, ethnic street food and peasant dishes, and a lot more ethnic cooking techniques used. Some of the interesting culturally inspired desserts we saw were sriracha maple, cherry yuzu, and butterscotch curry. So, when you are thinking about the next flavor to make look a little farther than the US borders(Gourmet Marketing; IFT; Food Navigator).

Hybrid Inventiveness


Yes, we’ve seen this trend started and coming straight us head on…combinations of cherished snack time favs. If we thought combos like the Cronut where legendary, wait to see what comes out in the next few years.  At least 58% of professional chefs would agree that this is one of the top ten trends right now when surveyed (Statista). This is an excellent chance to sit down with your team (pad and paper if you are an at home chef) and start brainstorming on how some of your products could be entangled into one heavenly snack or plate. For more mash-ups, check out: the townie, pie in cake, or ice cream cupcakes (Examiner).

Holy Smoke!


 Step aside bacon; smoke is taking over! Don’t worry bacon: we still love you. And although bacon is near and dear to many, Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, seems to think “smoke is sort of the next evolution of bacon.” Chefs would agree because out of that same aforementioned panel of professional chefs 54% of the say smoked is the way to go if your looking for a hot trend. One huge benefit of adding a little smoke is that it is a great way to add flavor without adding extra calories. Another great way to get that smoky note and boost your brand’s image is by barrel aging. Christine Keller, Director of Trend Practice at CCD Innovation, says, “I am seeing a lot of smoked flavors, but I think barrel-aged has that same taste profile, while being a little more approachable” for people. Further more, putting barrel aged on the label, from a marketing standpoint, actually has been proven to give the consumer a sense of craftsmanship which increases the product’s value in the eye of the consumer. Some of the ideas floating around at Vosges include a smoked banana caramel bar, copal resin smoked chocolate, and smoked cinnamon for the holidays (IFT).

Vegetable Dessert…What?!?


A little beet parfait for you? Sounds weird doesn’t it; Well, not really. Out of the same panel of professional chefs, 46% of them say that this is a hot new trend (Statista). Kate Jacoby, a co-owner of a posh vegan restaurant in Philly, says that their are a lot of vegetables that when you caramelize them they have a wonderful sweetness and some add an extra bit of texture (Zagat). For our experiencers and adventurous Millennials this is right up their ally. Of course this includes carrot cake, but it doesn’t stop there. Imagine parsnips, rutabaga, onion, or even avocado cheesecake (Examinier).

Already Starting To Shine!


Waffles wafflepop


We have all embraced the concept of “brinner” where we enjoy a little breakfast for dinner. But according to AUI Fine Foods and The Daily Meal, we should start thinking about this breakfast treat all day long and well into dessert. Waffles are going to be both big for savory and sweet in the upcoming years, from the Taco Bell waffle taco, to a churro waffle, to waffle pizzas.  The waffle shape is perfect to complement many different creations from sweet to savory, and it allows for immense creativity. If waffles just aren’t in your business’ wheel house, than take the lesson form this trend that you can take a simple product that is feasible for you and find different ways to reinvent it.


Snack Time!

Trends are showing that the classic 3 meals a day concept is out and snack time is in. 60% of a panel of professional chefs agree that smaller portions or the happening thing (Statista). People are swapping out the standard 3 large meals with an average of 4 smaller meals or snacks. The most popular are grab-n-go snacks and quick healthy snacks which are often eaten at less standard times (Innova Marketing Insights). Small portions do not only apply to savory meals; now, people are popping sweet miniatures in between meals and are highly enjoying petite versions of some of our most cherished classics (Examiner).  

One last tidbit that I found extremely helpful, courtesy of IFT.org, is that if you are looking for new flavors or want to do something with food no one has done before, the best place to look is the beverage industry. A lot of flavors that you will see in a juice, soda, beer, or liquor often make their way to snacks and entrée products over time. We hope these 2015 trends helped you with ideation and creation!

 As always please let us know if there is any way we can assist you with any baked goods.

Works Cited

AUI Fine Foods:

Baking Business:

Baking Magazine:

Buscuit People:


Data Essential:

Every Day Health:


Food Business News:

Food Starter:

Food Product Design:

Food Fanatics (US Foods):


Gourmet Marketing:

Houston Chronicle:


Nutrition Unplugged:

Progressive Grocer:

Spoon University:



USA Today:

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