Products that offer new experiences have traditionally been the purview of foodies and so-called adventurous consumers. But wide-scale shutdowns due to COVID-19 are having ripple effects that are expanding the consumer base for multi-sensory food experiences. For example, with more people staying in, there’s been an uptick in creative food and beverage preparation at home—especially by home bakers, baristas, and mixologists—and viewership of popular food channels like the Food Network has surged.
In addition, the reduced access to favorite restaurants, cafes, and bars (that could previously be counted on to deliver engaging dining experiences) has created a new opportunity for retail products that can fill this void. Increased isolation has also led people to struggle with boredom or restlessness, with many turning to food for comfort.
Multi-Sensory Food and Beverage Trends for 2021
Here’s a look at specific consumer trends in multi-sensory foods and beverages with high growth potential for the upcoming year:
Consumers’ interest in indulgent comfort foods is going strong during the COVID-19 pandemic and so is their interest in snacking. Snackfections are the perfect solution. These confection-snack hybrids address consumers’ desire for a sweet chocolate treat with the added sensory excitement of crunchy nuts, pretzels, or cookie bits. The use of contrasting textures and flavors can create a more interesting and satisfying eating experience for consumers.
From sriracha to gochujang sauce, consumers’ appetite for hot chili peppers is fierce. Companies are using hot peppers to add flavor and burn to chips, pretzels, sauces, jams, jerky, coffee, chocolate, chewing gum, bakery products, and more. Now the superhot chili peppers such as ghost pepper, scorpion pepper, and the Carolina Reaper are making inroads into mainstream products, driven by the growing consumer interest in extreme sensory experiences.