Natural ingredients atop a wooden table Natural ingredients atop a wooden table

Food and beverage trends can have more plot twists than your favorite mystery movies. While annual trends are forecasted by some of the most incredible food minds and culinary innovators around the globe, they are also heavily impacted by consumers.

Flavour is still the most significant factor in food purchasing among most consumers. Palatability and sensory characteristics can often make or break food formulations and possibly even outweigh any health and wellness benefits they provide. Like great detectives, flavour producers, and food formulators must use their experience, clues, and foresight to investigate flavour trends and consumer demands to crack their biggest formulation mysteries.

We recently spoke to Francois Camelio, technical sales manager, Foodology by Univar Solutions, about the flavour industry news, trends, and insights shaping the current landscape and even offering a glimpse into the upcoming food trends for 2024.

A food scientist tries to solve the mystery behind a citrus-based formulationA food scientist tries to solve the mystery behind a citrus-based formulation

What are the top trending flavours in beverages in 2023?

Francois: Citrus fruits, such as orange, grapefruit, and lime, are among the most popular, as well as berry blends and watermelon. More exotic citrus flavours such as yuzu (lemon and mandarin hybrid) and tangelo (tangerine/pomelo hybrid) are also an exciting trend.

We are also seeing the rise of botanicals – black tea, florals (hop flowers, cherry blossom, butterfly pea flower, jasmine, etc.), and spice varieties.

A delicious array of citrus fruits piled on a charcoal wood tableA delicious array of citrus fruits piled on a charcoal wood table

With product development building on the “halo effect” of certain natural ingredients – a perception of functionality in terms of mental or physical health – there are growing interests in functional ingredients and flavours, drawing from fruits, roots, botanicals, and adaptogens. Some examples of popular functional flavours include:

  • Ginseng root (immune support/energy boost)
  • Ginger (anti-inflammatory/cognitive focus)
  • Turmeric (anti-inflammatory/antioxidant)
  • Reishi mushrooms (immune system support/stress reduction)

What are the influencing factors driving the beverage flavour trends we’re seeing?

Francois: There’s a definite crossover or overlap of flavours across the soft drink space, the alcoholic beverage space, and the low/no alcohol space. For example, many recent beverage launches of IPAs (both alcoholic and low/no alcohol) are boosted with citrus flavours. Also, the cold brew coffee Guinness is new. Hard teas and hard seltzers are emerging, exploring traditional soft drinks, nostalgic flavours, and botanicals and florals.

We are seeing the rising interest in stevia extracts in beverages, including non-alcoholic versions of popular classic cocktails. Stevia ingredients have traditionally posed taste challenges to formulators. Our supplier partner, PureCircle, has recognised these challenges and has developed a comprehensive stevia portfolio to mitigate these traditional negative attributes. The range includes sweeteners, natural flavour modulators produced using simple extraction, and modern biotechnologies working in synergy to increase inherent flavour intensity.

 Creamer is added to a freshly made cold brew coffee serving in a glass with coffee beans and the coffee maker both in the background. Creamer is added to a freshly made cold brew coffee serving in a glass with coffee beans and the coffee maker both in the background.
A vibrant butterfly pea flower is in full bloom atop its virile stemA vibrant butterfly pea flower is in full bloom atop its virile stem

What are the top trending colours/colour palettes in beverages?

Francois: From my experience – for canned products – I would mention naturally derived colours, which may have stability issues in a clear bottle but are better protected in a can or for a product designed for consumption from the can. Colour palettes for these formats include caramels and botanicals such as butterfly pea flowers, and spices (paprika, turmeric).

Bold and vibrant colours (purple is the current trend) are required for bottled products or for those for which the visual currency of social media platforms is an important marketing strategy. The stability of colour is necessary for this format, which is more difficult to achieve with natural colours.

What are the three most significant customer demands from your colour/flavor clients? (i.e. natural, clean label, sustainable, vegan, non-GMO, turnaround times, supply chain certainty, etc.) and what does that mean, in practice, for a distribution portfolio?

Francois: Consumers are becoming more aware of the paradox that natural colours and flavours often utilise significantly more crops, land, and resources than nature-identical colours and flavours to produce relatively small quantities of natural extracts, essences, and oils. This proves more costly to the bottom line.

“Natural” is also not always a synonym for “sustainable.” The conversation about the negative impacts of using non-sugar sweeteners is getting louder, adding to consumer demands for natural ingredients. Substantial opportunities exist to shift the palette away from non-sugar sweeteners and more towards natural juices or less sweet or savoury unprocessed flavours.

“Reduce-Reuse-Recycle” continues to gain pace from upcycled ingredients to formats that reduce packaging. The shift from plastic and glass bottles to cans remains, as cans are seen as better for the environment regarding recyclability and transport costs. Reformulating might also be required to suit a new packaging format.

Global environmental and political issues, energy and production costs, and climate issues are predicted to continue disrupting supply chains. Being able to source alternatives that are equivalent in terms of quality and cost of colours and flavours is an ongoing concern. Foodology by Univar Solutions continues to work diligently with suppliers to support supply chain and market demands.

Work with the Foodology by Univar Solutions team to solve your next formulation challenge and create your winning recipe.

 smiling, well-dressed man in front of stairs with his arms folded smiling, well-dressed man in front of stairs with his arms folded

Author Bio

Francois Camelio

Technical Sales Manager, Foodology by Univar Solutions

Additional Resources


Bangsbo, J., Blackwell, J., Boraxbekk, C.-J., Caserotti, P., Dela, F., Evans, A. B., Jespersen, A. P., Gliemann, L., Kramer, A. F., Lundbye-Jensen, J., Mortensen, E. L., Lassen, A. J., Gow, A. J., Harridge, S. D. R., Hellsten, Y., Kjaer, M., Kujala, U. M., Rhodes, R. E., Pike, E. C. J., … Viña, J. (2019). Copenhagen Consensus statement 2019: Physical activity and ageing. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53(14), 856–858.,amino%20acids%20into%20skeletal%20muscle,mixed%20in%20with%20soy%20protein.,mixed%20in%20with%20soy%20protein.,pain%2C%20bodily%20aches%20and%20inflammation,to%20any%20high%2Dcarb%20dish,recovery%20after%20a%20strenuous%20workout.,of%20joint%20range%20of%20motion.

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