The arrival of 2023 will bring a striking array of flavors and colors that showcase consumers’ thirst for discovery, holistic wellness and self-expression. People are increasingly shopping according to their emotions and values, making purchases that reflect how they see themselves and what they wish to see in the world.
When it comes to foods and beverages, flavors and colors are incredibly influential in purchasing decisions. In fact, according to an FMCG Gurus report on flavor, color and texture trends, consumers prioritize taste and flavor over other product attributes like price, potential health benefits or sustainability claims. Additionally, of the 43% of global consumers who are attracted to food and drink products with new and experimental colors, 66% described these colors as fun and exciting, and 60% said they make products more appealing. Brands that lean into the latest flavor and color trends can revitalize classic categories to capture consumer attention throughout the new year.
Bold flavors and vivid shades
In 2023, subtlety seems to be off the table. Instead, consumers are frequently attracted to the vibrancy, optimism and boldness of bright colors and corresponding flavors. The Barbiecore trend and Viva Magenta, Pantone’s 2023 Color of the Year, are prime examples, with fierce pink shades coloring over-the-top baked goods, desserts, cocktails and even sauces. At the same time, flavors like dragon fruit, pink grapefruit, fruit punch and hibiscus are gaining traction. Besides magenta, saturated orange, teal, yellow and purple hues play with exciting flavor profiles, including mango, blue raspberry, turmeric and taro root.
Escapism and adventure
Many consumers are eager for exploration, and they’re drawn to foods and beverages that will take them on a journey—to real or imagined destinations. The color blue deeply embodies this trend, with its associations to ocean waves, vast skies and tranquil ponds. Fun and fantastical flavors pair well with blue tones, such as blackberry serrano, peppermint, birthday cake, sour candies and fictional taste profiles for fairies, gnomes and dragons. Transportive notes of regional cuisine can also bring a sense of exploration to everyday offerings. Likewise, “limited edition” is among the top five fastest-growing, year-over-year global food and beverage claims, per Mintel, demonstrating consumer interest in experiential eating occasions.
Uplifting and restorative sensations
After several years of disruption and uncertainty, consumers are hungry for treats that signal self-care. In 2022 top trends research from FMCG Gurus, nearly half (47%) of global consumers said a top barrier to healthy living is the difficulty of finding time to relax. Foods and beverages are commonly used to support emotional well-being, with special attention paid to flavors and colors that consumers link to positivity and calming qualities. Lavender, as both a hue and a flavor, will be trending in 2023, adding its delicate color, taste and aroma to ice cream, ready-to-drink (RTD) teas and confectionery. Other warm, neutral shades that complement indulgent vanilla, caramel, cheddar or bacon flavors can also help consumers feel comforted.
Products with positive impact
People are increasingly taking a proactive approach to wellness, with purposeful actions to support the well-being of themselves, their communities and the planet. Colors and flavors that can lift spirits, like bright orange and sunny yellow, vibe with this trend. Such colors also align with fruits, vegetables and other botanicals that consumers associate with nutritional benefits, from citrus and tropical fruits to varietal peppers and garden herbs. Flavors and colors derived from natural sources offer added appeal to consumers. Indeed, 76% of global consumers said it’s important that food and drink products do not contain artificial colors, per FMCG Gurus. Natural colors and flavors convey a sense of simplicity, trust and quality, which is significant to consumers looking for clean label products.
Considering that 56% of global consumers stated they like the food they eat to have bright and intense colors, and 50% associated new and unusual flavors with being well-being, it’s clear that food and beverage brands will have vivid possibilities from which to draw in 2023, as they continue developing innovative products that meet consumers’ evolving needs.
Jennifer Zhou is the North American senior director of product marketing at ADM, bringing almost 20 years of experience as a creative and strategic business development professional in the food and beverage industry to the global nutrition company. She is passionate about creating emotional experiences for brands and products through a commitment to excellence and innovation through collaborative teamwork. Before joining ADM, Zhou—a Rutgers grad—served in previous roles, such as senior director of marketing and consumer insight for Robertet Group and beverage category manager at International Flavors & Fragrances.