The need for the new. Elevating everyday flavour.

Feb 26, 2024 |4 min read
Family tasting cooking

A recent survey by Food Manufacture shows that over 1 in 4 people in the UK are wanting more new taste experiences and that this desire for newness is particularly acute among Gen Z and millennials with 1 in 3 saying they are actively seeking out new flavours.

This desire for newness is not surprising – we know that in today's economic climate, people are seeking a break from reality, craving positivity and moments of uplift from food. But also because our social media feeds are full of people showing us the fun, exciting things they have been eating – from fun new pop-ups, international street food, through to impressive ‘cheese-pulls’ and pretty seasonal desserts! For those that live in big cities, some of these new flavours will be accessible, broadening taste palates and opening up new avenues for home cooking. For those who are outside of big cities, experiencing these new flavours and exciting cuisines first-hand might feel less attainable, but the desire to experiment and try remains.

Trying out new cuisines and experimenting with different flavours shouldn’t be limited to where we go on holiday or the restaurants we visit, but what we buy from the supermarkets and what we cook at home.

 

Helping people to explore new tastes and flavours

Supermarket shelves can act as gateways to experimentation, developing new food habits and expanding palates.  Supermarkets may be the only way for some people to access these new taste experiences.  Expanding the range of flavours and cuisines on offer in supermarkets makes food that would have only been available to those living in big cities or with the means to travel available to everyone.

 

Safe and accessible introductions

Although people are looking to try new foods, there is a worry about possibly wasting money or uncertainty about how to start. Supermarkets can act as a safe and easy way to introduce these new flavours to a wider audience in a lower risk way: a way to help people to discover new favourites to add to their everyday eating routines. Highlighting simple twists on favourites can help customers to take the first steps!

 

New flavours but also new formats

Despite a really strong consumer-driven desire for newness, brands shouldn’t be falling back on the same old ways of delivering it. In 2023, The Grocer reported that there has been a decline in demand for meal kits and cooking sauces, with El Paso experiencing a £6.2m loss, as volumes fell 6.4%. Whilst newness needs to be accessible, it also needs to feel exciting or at least a bit more exciting than opening a jar of sauce or sprinkling some powder. Rather than offering whole meal kits or jars of sauces, brands and supermarkets can promote ‘flavour bomb’ ingredients (e.g. miso, gochujang, harissa, chimichurri) as an accessible entry point for exploring global cuisine in a more authentic way.

 

Elevating the everyday

Offering ways of elevating the ordinary and facilitating fun fusions will be key to exciting consumers and getting them to try new things. Condiments, sauces, and pastes offer a budget-friendly means to bring flavour and instantly elevate everyday dishes.

According to Waitrose in 2023, sales of hot sauces are up 55% year-on-year. #Sriracha has garnered more than 550 million views on TikTok ast year, Nando’s BBQ sauces, sold in supermarkets, grew 9.5% with sales of £22.4m. These products help people to elevate the everyday – a splash of hot sauce on pizza or some piri-piri sauce liberally applied to some leftover chicken can take what we eat to another level.

 

No rules

Rather than a rigid focus on specific cuisines, brands need to be supporting extensive experimentation and embracing a no-rules approach to culinary eclecticism.

A 2024 food trends forecast by ASDA, perfectly sums where this trend might be going:

“Alongside comfort, they also want newness and adventure, which means regional varieties and inventive twists. Familiar favourites like lasagne, pizza and pasta remain popular but expect gourmet twists and fusions to take these dishes and ingredients to the next level e.g. gochujang spaghetti, miso Bolognese and malai rigatoni.”

 

Food brands and supermarkets have a captive audience of consumers desperate to try new things. Whilst family favourite meal kits will continue to play a role, they don’t really deliver newness effectively and feel far away from the authentic experiences many are seeking. Brands and supermarkets need to promote flavour and support experimentation. Supermarkets have a key role in democratising new flavours by bringing trending products to the fore (think harissa paste or kewpie mayonnaise!) and become hubs of culinary exploration.