It’s no secret that spicy is an incendiary menu flavor right now. Technomic’s Flavor Lifecycle, which tracks flavors on their journey from innovation to ubiquity, shows many mature staples: Buffalo, chile, jalapeño, Cajun. But it also shows us what’s likely to come next.
Menu categories see wide variation in flavor innovation. Aji amarillo, a South American spice, is the leading cutting-edge spicy flavor in appetizers; while in entrées, it’s sambal, a Southeast Asian favorite. Spicy flavors that are one step closer to widespread acceptance—but still innovative—include poblano in appetizers and red chile in entrées.
The Flavor Lifecycle tracks adoption levels across concept categories with varying levels of innovation, from chef-driven restaurants to national chains. It dynamically projects trends for thousands of menu categories, and helps organizations find the right flavors before they go mainstream.
Even widely adopted flavors find new life with unique menu applications. The Flavor Lifecycle tool projects a new platform for wasabi—a longtime mature flavor for sushi—on early adopter salad menus. For Sriracha, now widely accepted on most handhelds (burgers, sandwiches, sushi and wings), the next push looks likely to be in tacos.
And if you’re looking for the little-known trend-to-be, Technomic also forecasts growth for gochujang (a spicy, salty paste from Asia, made from fermented soybeans, dried chiles and garlic).
Technomic’s MenuMonitor analyzes more than 7,000 commercial and noncommercial menus tracked quarterly to identify menu opportunities, including seasonal promotions, new menus and LTOs. Technomic’s Flavor Lifecycle has been tracking flavors on the innovation spectrum since 2011. As a dynamic part of MenuMonitor, it can pull predictive flavor insights on a limitless range of dishes in seconds.