Keeping ahead of taste trends amid a coronavirus-focused world

With numerous logistics and product development factors within food and drink sectors being placed under considerable strain during the coronavirus pandemic, Austrian-based ingredients and flavours group Esarom examines how we may view product development in the near future


What does the world taste like with Covid-19? Will the soft drink, the cocktail, the chocolate, the cup of ice cream taste like in former days when we are able again to sit in the street café together with friends? In former days before corona?

The taste trend scouts at esarom were wondering. This does not mean that the coronavirus has mutated our taste buds and olfactory sensors and by this has changed our sense of taste within the meaning of sensorics. But it is rather a question of our taste preferences.

We were used to it that everything is available everywhere. Fruit and spices from countries all over the world. In search of always new trends, the wish for exotic and special things we drove around, shipped, flew anything around the globe. Coconut water from Brazil, mangoes, papayas, star fruits, … The CO2-food print was mentioned again and again but the demand of the consumers was more important.

Then corona appeared. Corona has limited availability here and there at least temporarily. Above all, corona leads many people to think differently. Is coconut water from overseas a must?

Or is the apple-fruit drink not even better? Because it comes from the local region, with raw materials from fruit farmers who grow in a sustainable way and retraceable back to the tree.

To know where things come from provides us with confidence and security. Values which have even become more important. To process, buy and consume articles which have been produced locally, enhances the domestic value-added chain, ensures the existence of the “neighbour”. Short transport ways are good for the environment. Things that have been produced locally are also available when the global network gets cracked. The trend to buy locally has been discussed since some time now, this trend is not new. With corona this trend gains in significance and is being enhanced.

Austria and our neighbouring countries – in order to define the concept of local region further – have to offer a lot of tasty varieties of fruit, vegetables, spices, herbs. The contributions of climate change are that some things have become local such as melons in the Austrian region of Wienerwald and Tullnerfeld. And as often in history again and again vegetables, spices and fruit are brought from other countries and are being cultivated and have thus become local. Haskap e.g. also known as honey berry, originally from the region of Kamchatka, is today also grown in Poland, Scotland and in the Balkan region. Local and regional is in no way limited to apple, pear, strawberry and cherry. Even if you pick out only apple as top-taste there is a large variety in taste – from apple blossom via apple cake to apple cider, from different apple varieties with different grades of sweetness, acidity and fruitiness.

Natural and healthy

The steadily growing health consciousness will push foods and beverages with functional ingredients. According to the esarom taste trend scouts the taste of superfood and superfruits is in line with this. Goji, acai, cranberry or local berries such as blueberries, cowberries, currants, aronia, hemp, local superfood with

long tradition experience a revival. Who needs chia or quinoa? A lot which is known as superfood comes from distant countries but even that changes. For 2 years now ginger has been harvested in the Austrian region of Burgenland.

The trend towards regionality does not mean that we should renounce the taste of other cultures. Other worlds of taste bring diversity, let us dream of other countries even if we cannot (do not want) travel and visit them. A thirst quencher with holiday feeling. A snack that arouses the thirst for adventure. This refreshes us. It sweetens our everyday life. Simple, uncomplicated, in between.

Despite the focus on regionality we remain open minded, curious and globally linked and love the taste of the world.

Taste underlines mega trends

Safety, health, globalisation and connectivity are mega trends that help to shape our future. Trend researcher Harry Gatterer talks of robust pillars in the crisis, of accelerators of change and chances for innovation (Harry Gatterer, Unsere neue Zukunft – Mit den Megatrends in die Post-Corona-Zeit – These mega trends will be reflected in the taste preferences of the people.

Producers of food stuffs and beverages can underline the positioning of their products with the choice of their flavours.

Conclusion of the taste experts

After corona our food stuffs and beverages will have flavours which we have known before. Probably we will see them differently, evaluate them differently. We will taste more consciously because we will have become more attentive. We will continue to combine good taste with indulgence and joy of life. And many among us will appreciate this more than before. Taste is and remains the most important criteria of decision when food and drinks are concerned.

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