Cerritos, CA — T.Hasegawa USA Inc. is sharing what it sees as the latest emerging flavor trends in the confection and dessert categories.
“Trust, familiarity and nostalgia which anchored strong sales in 2020 are still key assets to dessert and confection manufacturers, as desserts benefit from powerful sensorial associations as well as cultural ones. However, consumers — especially Gen Z and Millennials—are also looking for more flavor innovation, healthfulness, functionality and, in a context of rising inflation, value, from desserts and confections. Balancing continuity and change for different consumer groups and taking inspiration from diverse sources can all help invigorate the category,” says Michele Scott, associate director of food and drink for the company.
Key among the company’s trends for 2023 are:
- Younger consumers have a strong interest in unusual and international flavors, fruits, spices and ingredients. Millennial and Gen Z consumers in a recent Mintel survey cited interest in diverse, unusual flavors and ingredients – particularly those from Latin and Asian cuisines, such as Red Bean, Lychee, Tamarind, Tres Leches and Churro. Pairing these unusual innovative tastes with well-established flavors may be the most effective approach, as consumers still value nostalgic tastes and seek familiar brands.
- Nostalgic flavors can ground innovation in post-pandemic landscape. Over the past two years, nostalgia has played an important role in providing comfort and familiarity to consumers during the pandemic and desserts was the most common category where this trend played out. According to Mintel research, 37 percent of consumers enjoy desserts that offer a twist on the familiar, while 46% of consumers like desserts that remind them of childhood, such as Birthday Cake and S’mores.
- Economic, environmental and health-based concerns shape attitudes in desserts and confections. Consumers are balancing rising prices of food with concerns related to health, wellness, the environment and broader economics. As inflation rises and consumer confidence falls, consumers may seek not only more affordable desserts, but also high-value options in terms of functionality and nutrition.
- Decreasing portion sizes to appeal to older consumers. While Gen Z and Millennial consumers are more often driven to make purchase decisions influenced by social media, older consumers seek out small portion sizes, which can be promoted as a healthier way to try new indulgences.
- Sales of desserts and confections are declining year-on-year, following a sales peak during the pandemic. Based on sales data from IRI InfoScan and Mintel, consumer demand for at-home confectionary, ice cream, dessert and baked goods peaked in 2020, before leveling off in 2021 and even decreasing to pre-pandemic levels in 2022. Operators can tap into the heightened health-consciousness that consumers have developed in recent years, offering high-protein, plant-based treats and those with functional, nourishing ingredients.
- The growth of Asian-inspired dessert teas. Milk teas, matcha and boba — all of which originated in Asian cuisine and became a foodservice trend — have also emerged as popular dessert flavors, in ice cream, cakes and even candy.