“Spicy” as a category is one of the more popular flavor trends, period, says John Brewer, vice president of sales and marketing for Pekin, Illinois-based Excalibur Seasoning — right up there with alcohol-infused, earthy and health-infused global cuisines.

In 2020, Excalibur is emphasizing different habanero, cinnamon, mushroom, green tea, whiskey, and citrus flavors in its seasoning and marinade lineups, Brewer says.

Many Excalibur offerings qualify as spicy but not crazy spicy, he says.

“We have several new sausage blends that are generating excitement. Our Habanero Mango brat is selling well. It has a sweet heat that will appeal to the masses, not just the brave ones craving insanely hot profiles.”

In the same vein, Excalibur’s Bacon Cinnamon Whiskey brat is now available and garnering a lot of attention, Brewer says. 

“We expect it to also be a top seller, as anything with bacon tends to resonate with most people. Couple that with the heat of Cinnamon Whiskey, and it’s a great pairing.”

In the “earthy” category, meanwhile, Excalibur’s Smoked Gouda Ancho Portabella Smoked Sausage is part of its brand-new Artisanal line of products. This blend has smoky, earthy notes, and a “mouthwatering appeal,” Brewer says. A cheesy top note makes for a great finish.

Another highlight from the company’s new Artisanal line, he adds, is the Yuzu Honey marinade. A fusion of Asian and Southwest flavors with a citrus bite and smell, the blend also includes tamari and yogurt powder for a smooth finish.

Other new sausage blends and marinades from Excalibur that Brewer expects to develop a strong following include Sweet Roasted Chipotle Green Tea Smoked Sausage, Southern Sweet Kentucky Bourbon Marinade and Blackberry Teriyaki Marinade.

“Our corporate chef and R&D team have done a tremendous job this year creating crowd-pleasing favorites,” Brewer says.

Trends: going global, and firing up the ‘cue

The demand for global cuisines will continue among the Millennial and Gen X crowds in 2020 and beyond, Brewer says. Garlic, chiles, cumin, tarragon, and a variety of citrus flavors are just a few of the ingredients that have been trending — and don’t show any immediate signs of slowing down — to meet that demand.

“Our International line has really been gaining steam with grocers — specifically Szechwan seasoning and marinade, Gochujang seasoning and marinade, Harissa seasoning, Piri Piri seasoning, and the even the Artisanal Yuzu Honey marinade,” Brewer says.

Tapping into another trend, Excalibur is excited about the growing popularity of competition barbecue. The company built its reputation as a “go-to” partner for proprietary development and blending services, Brewer says. That’s something that should appeal to the pro BBQers on the circuit.

“Any formula shared with us is held in strict confidentiality, and we have low minimum purchase requirements for proprietary blends. So, collaborating with professional BBQ teams is really a perfect match.”

Many of the larger BBQ teams, Brewer points out, operate successful restaurants and catering businesses, and their customer base is well aware of their reputation on the competitive circuit. Many have branded retail products merchandised in or near the meat case targeting their ideal demographic.

“That’s where Excalibur fits in,” he says. “Helping them build their brand and grow their following.”

Retail or packaged bulk, Excalibur can blend it and package it. And with its own graphic design department, Excalibur can even offer creative label design services and printing in-house.

“Competition BBQ is big business — it’s a strong focus for Excalibur in 2020 and beyond,” Brewer says.  

McCormick partners with Cargill on new spicy offerings

Two Wichita, Kansas-based Cargill Protein brands have partnered with Baltimore-based spice giant McCormick on a new turkey tenderloin product.

Grill Mates Marinated Turkey Breast Tenderloins are a collaboration between McCormick and Cargill’s Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms brands.

The product are available in two flavors, Montreal Turkey Seasoning and Southwest Style Chipotle. They began arriving in select retail locations in January.

Grill Mates Marinated Turkey Tenderloins were developed to refresh the tenderloin category with more relevant flavor profiles and provide consumers a convenient, easy-to-prepare protein option, according to Cargill.

“The need for convenience is boosting demand for value-added proteins. Younger consumers, full-time employees and those with children all have limited time to cook meals at home and desire simple, healthy meal offerings.”

According to the Power of Meat 2019 report, value-added meat has been a growth driver for several years, based on the combination of a higher consumption frequency and an increase in household penetration. In 2018, value-added meat purchases increased by 5.1% in dollar volume over the prior year.

As the most popular brand in grilling blends and rubs with nearly half of sales in the category, Grill Mates was the ideal collaborator for Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms Turkey, according to Cargill.

According to consumer research, 84% of consumers are familiar with the McCormick Grill Mates brand, 71% of consumers said they like the McCormick Grill Mates brand, and 66% said the McCormick Grill Mates brand fit well with turkey tenderloins.

Consumer and category research also found that “seasoned” flavors appeal to a broad audience, and Montreal steak seasoning is the most popular flavor in grilling blends and rubs with 11% of all sales in the category. The popularity of the Montreal steak flavor inspired the Montreal Turkey Seasoning variety of the Grill Mates Marinated Turkey Breast Tenderloins.

World on a plate: excerpts from McCormick’s 2020 Flavor Forecast:


Asian flavors trending…

XO Sauce, from Hong Kong, has an amazing umami taste you must try.

Traditional XO sauce is a medium spicy seafood sauce that was developed in Hong Kong during the 1980s, and now is commonly used in southern Chinese regions and throughout Asia.  This umami-packed condiment is the whole package - savory, smoky, sweet, spicy and salty - thanks to key ingredients like dried shrimp, cured ham, chilies, onion, oil and more. 

The name "XO", which stands for "extra old.” Like cognac, it signifies its original purpose as a luxury flavor. Its unique, chunky texture is more like a relish or chutney, rather than a typical sauce. 

We crave the new takes on XO sauce now appearing in street foods, fusion dishes mashed with other cuisines, and even vegetarian options.  XO sauce is poised to become a universal condiment. 

…and African, and Indian

West African Suya Spice, most known for its popular meat skewers, is made from ginger, chilies and roasted peanuts.

In recent years key African flavors like harissa, peri peri and berbere spice have gained attention, paving the path for Suya spice. Now, this craveable seasoning famous for the spicy meat skewers in West Africa, is popping up around the world. 

Suya spice, generally made with ginger, hot chili powder and ground roasted peanuts, brings a nuttiness and medium heat level to the table.  

Indian Gunpowder Spice (Milagai Podi) features finely ground roasted dal, sesame seeds, chilies, and other spices to add the perfect finishing flavor. Heat levels range from mild to medium to spicy. No matter which one you choose, these versatile tastes answer our insatiable need to explore what’s next in global flavor.

Its official name is Milagai Podi, which translates to chili powder.  However, Gunpowder Spice is the name most commonly used by South Indian food fans. It’s a dry condiment made from smoothly ground roasted dal (lentils), sesame seeds, chilies, cumin, coriander, and other spices.

While its name implies it packs a punch, the heat level of Gunpowder Spice can vary from medium to spicy - depending on the number of chilies used.  Truly customizable, this spice blend can appear black, yellow, red or green, as a result of which dal and spices are blended to create it, providing a nice pop of both flavor and color to your plate.

Originally used to season idlis (savory rice cake), dosas, rice and noodles, it’s now being discovered for how truly versatile it can be. Generously sprinkle this blend on any dish for an instant flavor boost.