Taste trends: fermented flavors riding in on the heat wave

Aug. 21, 2014

Consumers are developing a taste for fermented foods like kimchi, craft pickles and fish sauce, according to the newest Culinary Trend Tracking Series (CuTTS) from Packaged Facts.

The fermented trend rides in on an earlier trend toward spicy foods.

"Packaged Facts survey data in 2014 finds that 53 percent of consumers seek out bolder flavors," said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, in a company press release. "Fermented foods have found a rising tide of popularity due to the convergence of this desire for spicier, bolder flavors and a growing focus on global foods that represent authentic preparations. It's the perfect storm, so to speak, for propelling globally inspired fermented artisanal foods into the mainstream."

Regional preparations of fermented foods, like craft pickles and small-batch whiskey, are being elevated in the preferences of consumers looking for artisan foods. In addition to growing artisan appreciation of these foods, more consumers are preferring foods that contain ingredients geared toward wellness. The probiotic elements of foods such as kimchi, lactic-acid fermented craft pickles and miso, are appealing to those looking to boost digestive health. Propelled by culinary interest in umami flavor, also known as the fifth taste, fish sauce and dried shrimp are seeing larger roles as ingredients in the kitchens of popular restaurants and foodservice operations.

The report explores several different fermented foods and beverages in the trend:

  • Korean kimchi – Korean pickled vegetables date back to the 13th century and are an indispensable staple in Korean cooking. Scientific study into kimchi's probiotics benefits in humans is ongoing. The zesty, pungent flavor of kimchi wakens the flavor of milder proteins, making it a condiment and ingredient to watch.
  • Craft pickles – Whether through vinegar or natural (lactic acid) fermentation, pickles are appearing on more dishes and in a greater number of retail offerings. Craft pickles are being upscaled in culinary circles and in the fast-casual restaurant segment.
  • Asian, fermented fish sauce and dried shrimp or shrimp paste – With more chefs and consumers taking a deeper culinary dive into umami--the salty, savory taste profile -- ancient, fermented preparations of fish and shrimp will gain more room at the table.
  • Small-batch whiskey – An artisanal approach to whiskey involves a smaller manufacturer and more specialized batch distillation and aging process. Small-batch whiskey is gaining appeal as a flavoring agent.
  • Tempeh and miso – Tempeh is a loaf-like fermented soybean food imported from Indonesia. Miso features umami flavor.

Topics: Food & Beverage, Trends / Statistics

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