When consumers think about flavor and spice, meat can be a bit of a blank canvas for their taste buds. That’s why seasonings and marinades are so important as they can transform a simple piece of meat into a flavor-packed dish. 

A look through the supermarket will yield endless possibilities when it comes to seasonings and marinades, with popular seasonings such as garlic, onion, paprika, and cumin, and common marinade ingredients such as vinegar, soy sauce, and olive oil. 

But there’s also new flavors arriving on the scene each year and it’s important that supermarkets keep up with the latest trends and know what’s going to be the hot and popular trends.  

Value-added products, including seasoned/marinated meats have soared in popularity the last couple of years according to data from IRI, which shows that annual U.S. sales of seasoned and marinated meats increased by 25 percent between 2016 and 2021.

“Quality and convenience remain top of mind, and pre-seasoned and marinated meats provide mealtime variety and versatility for shoppers,” said Kent Harrison, vice president of fresh meats marketing and premium programs at Tyson Foods. “These products are especially popular among younger shoppers and those who grocery shop online. Case ready seasoned and marinated meats allow retailers to offer the variety shoppers want, without increasing demands on staff to trim and season the product.”

Over the last couple of years especially, consumers are seeking variety and convenience and seasoned and marinated meats fill that need perfectly.

John Brewer, vice president of sales and marketing for Excalibur Seasoning, Pekin, Ill., noted standard blends, the tried-and-true flavors, are high in demand.

“In a retail grocery program, we rarely see anyone kick off a seasonings or marinade campaign with exotic flavors,” he said. “For instance, our customers may choose three blends to start. They are conservative in their approach, using what is familiar and what they know will sell.”

Still, the company does often work with retailer grocers with a solid flavor program already in place, and they are more willing to include unique and seasonal flavors for a limited time.

“The pandemic brought about more creative cuisine,” said Bob Andorfer, national sales director for Excalibur Seasoning. “Consumers found themselves cooking home-style and the opportunity allowed them to try unique flavors and complicated recipes. It became possible for them to prepare exotic dishes in their own kitchens. It’s now quicker and easier for them to pick up favorites like lemon pepper and BBQ seasoning at the grocery store and experiment at home.”

Brewer noted that labor issues and no contact rules during the pandemic eliminated a lot of programs from the service side of the grocery industry, so you had the younger generation, known for having no interest in cooking or believing it was too difficult, realizing that through the magic of YouTube, they can cook just about anything  

Shayn Prapaisilp, chief operating officer of United Provisions, an international grocery store in St. Louis, has found spicy, hot blends and flavors popular among the store’s shoppers.

“Spicy foods seem to have inserted themselves into the ‘sweet’ and ‘salty’ categories,” he said. “People like experimenting by adding heat to their foods, from breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert. We’re seeing things like chili oils, jalapeno based dry and liquid blends such as gochujang do well.”

Sylvia Fountaine a professional chef based in Spokane, Wash., and CEO and founder of Feasting at Home, noted she bases a lot of recipe development on trending searches, and all things Korean have continued to spike when it comes to recipe searches since the pandemic.

“More and more Western people are becoming familiar with Korean ingredients like gochujang through platforms like Tiktok,” she said. “Interviews with Kpop idols describing their favorite foods have led to young people broadening their culinary horizons, so we can anticipate premade marinades with a Korean flair will be trending in supermarkets in short order.”

She added that Kalbi and bulgogi marinades, spicy gochujang based barbecue sauces and more are becoming more common as people attempt recipes they saw online.

Get your grill on

As the official summer season is approaching, BBQ rub and sauce are trending seasonings and sauces.

“Barbeque is all about flavor and bringing families and friends together is always on trend,” said Rhonda Ihrke, Lloyd’s barbeque brand manager. “Our hardwood smoked pulled meats made with Pig Beach Mustard BBQ Sauce are helping to drive category growth and reaching new households who are looking for a premium BBQ experience at home. They are perfect for any backyard barbeque or hectic weeknight meal while bringing delicious restaurant-style BBQ to the plate.”

Stephanie Neu, R&D manager of PS Seasoning, Iron Ridge, Wisc., has seen demand across the board for everything barbeque.

“Aside from traditional sweet and smoky BBQ profiles, sweet heat profiles are driving trends in the seasoning, sauce and condiment categories,” she said. “With the rise of interest in global cuisine, consumers are more likely to be experimental when paired with a familiar comfort food like barbeque. Bold and spicy mixed with a sweet and familiar profile like honey eases consumers’ acceptance into trying new flavor combinations.”

Other profiles on the rise are the addition of fruit and botanicals to traditional barbeque flavors.

“Fruits like pineapple, mango, or yuzu help balance and enhance the sweet and spicy flavors of BBQ,” Neu said. “Botanicals like lavender and hibiscus are also making their way into the sauce and seasonings category.”

BBQ flavors, according to several supermarkets, are trending and have been for a couple of years now. Some of this is likely still pandemic-driven because of the home cooking boom that occurred.

Harrison agreed that anything related to barbecue is extremely popular right now.

“For Tyson Foods, our seasoned and marinated pork loin filets and ribs continue to be in high demand. Consumers love that these products provide a consistently great eating experience, with minimal preparation,” he said.

Staying on top of things

Manufacturers are constantly introducing new seasonings and marinades to market, but doing so requires staying up on what the latest trends are.

United Provisions is a very reactionary store and Prapaisilp noted the store dedicates a lot of time to research, looking for anything that is on the cusp of a breakthrough.

“If we see something trending, we jump on it,” he said. “We never wait to see the outcome of a trend through our competitor’s results.”

To be successful, Tyson Foods monitors consumer cooking trends, flavor profiles, recipe searches and cuts. 

“For example, when developing our line of Tyson Freshly Seasoned Pork Loin Filets, consumer insights helped guide us to create flavors like Roasted Garlic Parmesan, Sweet Teriyaki and Toasted Sesame and Sweet and Smoky BBQ,” Harrison said. “Retailers are also a great resource and partner to understand consumers’ priorities and what is top of mind for them.”

tyson-sweet-and-smoky-barbecue-packageSource: Tyson


Excalibur Seasoning has seen Asian and Thai flavors become big trends, and its R&D team is working with these flavor profiles.

Prapaisilp noted it never hurts to keep marinades, sauces and rubs near meat, and if a store has a prepared foods department, represent the ideas directly to the customer by sampling foods during busy hours. 

“I think the one thing people don’t consider enough is crossing this category with plant based and fresh produce,” he said. “People really enjoy more than ever experimenting with vegetarian ideas even if they still have a meat friendly diet.

“Nashville Hot is one of our offerings that has taken off out of the gate beyond our expectations,” Andorfer said. “It started as a regional novelty, but now we sell it everywhere as a patty blend, sausage blend and dry marinade.”

Cross merchandising opportunities

According to the 2022 Power of Meat, convenience-focused items across all categories are in high demand and matching seasonings and marinades in the meat department does wonders for both categories.

“Retailers can go one step further to help shoppers take the guesswork out of meal-planning by cross-merchandising seasoned and marinated meats with other meal components, helping consumers plan the entire meal,” Harrison said. “For example, cross-merchandising pre-chopped grilling vegetables to accompany seasoned steak kebabs, or taco fixings for pre-seasoned pulled pork tacos.”

Brewer has never been a proponent of products getting lost on a shelf, noting seasonings should be merchandised at the meat case.

“Either the flavors are next to the protein of choice or already applied for a meal-to-go,” he said. “The best way to merchandise a meat case program is to upsell your customers with value-added options for them to choose. Make sure the roast on sale is right next to the seasoned-and-ready-to-go product offered at a premium price point.”