Fusion flavors, less sweet foods and functional ingredients are among the foodservice trends to keep an eye on in 2018 and beyond, according to market research specialist Mintel.

The new fusion flavors are being inspired largely by the increasing popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine in the U.S., according to Mintel. The company also predicts that spice blends, sauces and condiments will be diners’ gateways to emerging international cuisines. In addition, new spins on seasoning and preparation methods will bring meaty flavors to both meats and vegetables.

To meet consumer demand to cut back on sugar, foodservice providers will get more creative by adding olive oil, vinegar and other ingredients to desserts. And functional foods, according to Mintel, are adding more color and flavor to food and drinks. The company also expects expanded use of kokumi to add complexity and depth to dishes.

“Flavor is an ever-evolving art, ripe with opportunities for interpretation, innovation and creativity,” says Amanda Topper, Mintel’s associate director of foodservice research. “Today, that opportunity lies in the expansion of international flavors and ingredients, and in the years ahead, we predict the ingenuity of new dishes will come down to enhancing the chemistry of ingredients to create hearty masterpieces. The future of flavor also lies in creating healthy dishes without giving up satisfying taste.”