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What’s the next pumpkin spice?

As soon as Labor Day passes, it begins: pumpkin season.

In 2015, nearly four out of 10 American consumers bought something pumpkin-flavored, and pumpkin-flavored coffee was the third best-selling pumpkin product that year, with $32.7 million in sales (Nielsen).

The popularity of pumpkin-flavored foods and beverages remains steady, but what’s next?

More than half of consumers cite flavor or taste as being the most important attribute when deciding where to purchase beverages, so operators are looking to their beverage partners for insights into the next trending flavor, according to Chicago-based Mintel.

Here are a few emerging flavor profiles to keep your eye on as you’re looking for LTO options for the coming winter and spring.

Bold, ethnic offerings

Consumers are seeking more ethnic and adventurous flavors. Twenty-nine percent of 18- to 34-year-olds are interested in ordering ethnic snacks, which could include beverages for snacking occasions, according to Technomic.

Third-wave coffee shops are leading the introduction of unique flavors such as matcha, lavender, red beans and Korean mixed grains into beverages, but there are indicators that some of these flavors will move into the mainstream.

For example, Google’s Beverage Trends Report shows that searches for matcha drinks continue to grow at a strong rate of 64% year over year across the four markets studied (United States, United Kingdom, Mexico and Spain).

Also, Hispanic flavors are emerging on the global front, such as rum from Cuba and Mexico:

  • Canela—a type of cinnamon used in some traditional dishes
  • Cajeta—caramel sauce made with goat milk
  • Piloncillo—raw sugar cane with a natural molasses taste

Dessert-inspired beverages

Cross-category innovation, such as dessert-inspired recipes, can help refresh consumer interest in the hot-drinks category and add sophistication to a staple category.

Furthermore, an indulgent dessert trend is surfacing in snack-occasion beverages with an emphasis on nostalgic flavors such as cookie dough, butterscotch and citrus desserts.

Classic holiday flavors

Away-from-home consumption of holiday-flavored creamers, such as peppermint or eggnog, nearly doubles during the last quarter of the year. Also, the menuing of peppermint-flavored coffee or tea has grown 46% over the past four years, according to Chicago-based Datassential.

Beverage offerings are also being developed that incorporate smoked tastes from culinary into beverages, such as a flavored coffee that combines the taste of sweet, smoky bourbon with that of rich, buttery pecans.

Whether delivered through flavored beans, creamers, syrups or other additions, flavored beverage offerings are a key consideration for restaurants looking to incorporate culinary innovation and address consumer trends.

This post is sponsored by S&D Coffee & Tea

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