KANSAS CITY — Citrus, sesame seeds and honeysuckle may emerge as sources of innovation in the grain-based foods category this year. Citrus flavors fit in sweet and savory applications. McCormick & Co., Baltimore, featured “the need for seed” in its Flavor Forecast for 2019, and floral tastes like honeysuckle add freshness and sweetness.

Sweet and savory works well with all grain-based foods, said John Stephanian, director of culinary development for ADM Nutrition.

“Grains are adaptable and can take on many different flavors,” he said. “So there are endless possibilities and flavor combinations. Popped caramel sorghum and quinoa pie crusts are a great way to showcase how this trend can come to life.”

Pairing sweet, fruit flavors with traditional savory flavors represents an opportunity for grain-based foods manufacturers.

“This trend may be new for food companies, but many different global cuisines throughout the world have been pairing fruits and grains for years, whether it be the Middle East, Africa or even the Caribbean,” Mr. Stephanian said. “Food companies are pushing the envelope now more than ever and are developing to satisfy the adventurous flavors consumers want. Citrus especially works well with hearty grains, and something as simple as adding currants or pomegranates to a grain bowl takes the concept to a completely new space.”

He mentioned yuzu and Thai bird chilies, pomelo and fennel, and porcini and caramel as other sweet-and-savory pairings.

“Yuzu will be a particularly interesting ingredient to watch in 2019, and we expect citrus flavors to show up in a variety of applications,” Mr. Stephanian said. “Citrus pairs nicely with botanical flavors and other natural fruits. So we expect to see this trend grow as consumers demand more back-to-nature flavors and ingredients.”

Traditional flavors like sourdough and rye are being combined with varietal fruits and chili peppers to add complexity to flavor profiles, said Jenna Schowalter, manager of sweet applications at Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Northbrook, Ill. She cited Bien Cuit, a bakery in New York that features a fig and mole loaf made with a blend of whole wheat, rye and Kernza flours combined with cocoa nibs and ancho chile mole and studded with dried figs and toasted pepitas.

Archer Daniels Midland Co., Chicago, is expanding in citrus flavor. The company earlier this month agreed to acquire Florida Chemical Co., which specializes in citrus-based flavors and fragrances. Florida Chemical Co., a division of Flotek Industries and based in Winter Haven, Fla., offers citrus flavor materials and essential oils as well as flavor enhancers for grapefruit and other types of citrus. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

“Florida Chemical Co. has a commercialized taste modification technology that can greatly enhance the sweetness perception and aftertaste of low- and zero-calorie foods and beverages sweetened with both natural and artificial sweeteners, which will result in increased consumer preference,” said Calvin McEvoy, vice-president, Essentials, for ADM.

Sesame seed cookies

Seeds a ‘must try’

Each year the McCormick Flavor Forecast highlights flavor insights and inspiration from around the globe.

“Our new, curated global platform is the place to discover what flavors are on the horizon, what everyone will be talking about, what you should be experimenting with and what flavors we dare you to try now,” said Kevan Vetter, executive chef for McCormick & Co.

The company called seeds a “must try” for 2019.

“We’re talking seeds of the crunchy, citrusy, nutty, buttery and pungent form,” McCormick & Co. said. “It’s time the whole world started sprinkling, cracking, crusting, toasting and of course eating them on everything, like overnight coconut guava basil seed pudding.”

McCormick & Co. offered two grain-based foods recipes containing seeds as examples. Cookies featured toasted sesame seeds and black sesame seeds to create texture, color and a warm, nutty taste. The cookies may be dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with extra sesame seeds, too. Floral popcorn-like bites were coated with chili powder and cumin paprika and combined with nuts, pretzels and coconut chips in a snack mix.

Floral flavors are the focus of a recent introduction from Comax Flavors, Melville, N.Y.

“Comax has recently introduced our Classic Floral Collection, including honeysuckle, lavender, rose, lilac, orange blossom and jasmine in anticipation of the growing consumer interest in botanicals and floral flavors for grain-based and other food and beverage categories,” said Stacey Kelly, senior product development scientist at Comax Flavors. “This collection along with our extensive library of herbal flavors like rosemary, thyme, cilantro and parsley and spice flavors such as ginger, chili, anise and cinnamon allow product developers to deliver what their consumers are craving.”

Floral tastes are bringing visual beauty to foods and beverages as well as freshness and sweetness, said Sian Cunningham, marketing insights specialist for Kerry, Beloit, Wis. She cited Mintel data showing 21% of consumers said they were interested in seeing more floral flavors on menus.

“Floral flavors like chamomile, rose, orange blossom and hibiscus are finding themselves in categories outside of beverage,” she said. “Within dessert items on menus — including pastries, cookies, cakes and brownies — rose, hibiscus and orange blossom have grown by 25%, 7%, and 6%, respectively, since 2015 (according to Datassential).”

Red velvet muffin

Sweet memories

Nostalgic sweet flavors are trending, too.

“Familiar flavors bring comfort and connection to many consumers and are often triggered by a want for nostalgic tastes of the past or a moment to embrace the present,” Ms. Cunningham said.

Retail sales, according to Nielsen, grew by 47% since last year for red velvet-flavored muffins and by 43% since last year for cinnamon bun-flavored muffins. Sales of cheesecake-flavored bread and muffins rose by 59%.

“There is opportunity to deliver nostalgic flavors not just to children but also to the adult consumer,” Ms. Cunningham said. “It is imperative to understand the nuances of taste when developing for the target consumer in order to deliver on their taste expectations.”

Bell Flavors & Fragrances listed “Roots of America” in its Spark program trends for 2019. Spark is the company’s insider resource for new and emerging consumer trends as well as flavor and fragrance inspirations.

“This trend is a resurgence of traditional and indigenous ingredients used pre-1990,” Ms. Schowalter said. “Think sorghum molasses, heavily spiced enriched yeast breads that contain a generous amount of dried fruits, original recipes for cornbread (actually a sweet cake). It’s not just a look at Southern food but also Native American foods and foods that have evolved out of different periods of early U.S. history.”