Top Drink Flavor Trends for 2021: Flavors That Tingle, Function

Photo: Courtesy of Flavorman

Experts at the Louisville, Ky.-based beverage development company, Flavorman, announced the drink flavor trends to watch for in 2021. Driven by the long-term effects of an on-going pandemic, this year’s forecast is shaping up to be focused on flavors that drive experience in a socially distant landscape. The trends include:

Flavors That Tingle
Burning, cooling or otherwise tingling their way across our tongues, drinks with flavors that stimulate unique sensory experiences are set to become more prominent in the coming year.

“We’ve had a considerable uptick in client requests for flavors that deliver varying degrees and styles of heat, smoke, and spice,” said Tom Gibson, Flavorman’s chief flavorist. “But we’ve also seen an increase in requests for flavors with that fresh, cooling rush you’d get from chewing a stick of mint gum.”

Flavors like Ancho chile, habanero and Indian peppercorn are expected to make their way into everything from Ready-to-Drink (RTD) cocktails to tea and lemonade. Meanwhile, menthol-heavy pairings – think peppermint-mocha cream and lemon-coconut eucalyptus – will contribute a cooling element to seltzers, premium coffee, juice drinks, and more.

Flavors That Comfort
The need for comfort has taken on a whole new meaning within the current social and political climate, but flavors continue to provide a soothing constant. Staples like grapefruit, lemon, and lime will continue to be popular; but there is an opportunity to elevate these familiar profiles by grounding them in specific locations of interest.

“Tracing flavors to a specific region creates a transportive experience that helps differentiate an otherwise standard flavor,” said Kristen Wemer, Flavorman’s director of beverage development. “As the market continues to saturate with the usual essentials, consumers can expect more diversity and premiumization through varietals of familiar flavors.”

Delivering on consumer cravings for nostalgia and indulgence, 2021 will also see the return of classic favorites but in unexpected, more sophisticated forms.

“When you think about childhood flavors re-imagined for premium applications, you get something like a smokey vanilla cold brew, bubble gum seltzer, or a fruit punch gin cocktail,” said Wemer. “We’re experiencing a renaissance of these nostalgic flavors— peanut butter, orange creamsicle, grape cotton candy – in concepts like hard coffee, energy drinks, and craft soda.”

Flavors That Function
In 2020, Flavorman introduced the concept of “functional plus” – those beverages that provide consumers with a multitude of health and wellness benefits. As the world grapples with a global pandemic, consumers have found ways to take their health into their own hands – and stomachs.

Beverages that offer immunity, cognitive, and mood-boosting benefits will be especially significant. Expect fragrant flavors like hibiscus, elderflower and orange blossom to be combined with other berry, botanical and citrus elements to emphasize functional ingredient blends in naturally positioned teas, enhanced waters, flavored kombucha and more.

Wemer, noted, “Thanks to its diversity of flavors and applications, tea continues to be one of the most popular drink ingredients in the world. From a beverage development context, tea makes for a great functional addition for its caffeine content and antioxidants. As consumers seek healthier alternatives to sugary sodas and juices, we expect to see an uptick in its presence across beverage categories – from fresh takes on Arnold Palmer-style cocktails to usage in emerging applications, like tea-based energy drinks.”

Flavorman is a custom beverage development company that with businesses and entrepreneurs – big and small – to develop everything from energy drinks to flavored spirits and more. With almost 30 years in the industry and almost 70,000 beverage formulations, the company has helped create thousands of household staples and iconic brands.

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