The latest flavor trends – and dairy’s role in them

What’s the most important factor when people buy food: Is it the health benefits? The price? The packaging that fits in perfectly with their on-the-go lifestyle?

There’s no question those are elements that dairy food and beverage producers need to consider.  

But, as surveys have shown time and time again, the main reason people choose to buy a particular food is taste. Taste wins this competition all day, every day.

Not coincidentally, great-tasting foods often have the highest margins.  Even the healthiest or the most convenient food won’t sell unless it has great flavor. And so, taste should be of utmost consideration for producers when considering reformulation or launching a new product entirely.

Of course, consumer taste preferences aren’t static. They’re constantly changing. That’s why it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of the market and adapt – all while keeping taste front-and-centre.

A world of flavor

The world is more connected than ever before, and that’s given rise to the popularity of various ethnic foods. In fact, in 2017, 23% of the new product launches tracked with an ethnic flavor were private label brands relative to 19% in 2013. 

Street foods, too, are increasingly popular, even if they’re not actually being served to you on the sidewalk. According to Innova Market Insight data, there has been a 24% growth in Food & Beverage launches with a food truck or street food claim (Global, 2017 vs. 2016).

In a similar vein, the more diverse populations become, the more consumers are embracing bold flavors and spices that they didn’t necessarily grow up with. These types of flavors include peppers and chili, both of which are being included more and more in food and beverage launches.

Dairy’s role in the trend

Dairy products such as cream or butter play a large role in ethnic foods, often to balance out the spiciness or to complement the flavor profiles of the star ingredients.  Especially for these new product launches, lactose-free dairy may be the unsung hero that lactose-intolerant people the world over are looking for. 

After all, people wanting to taste-test the latest food trends aren’t likely to eat those foods if the creamy sauces contain lactose – no matter how good they sound.



Want to learn more?

Take a look at our other articles on the issues surrounding taste and texture in dairy foods and beverages.


  1. Stanton, John. “Taste Remains Consumers' Top Preference for New Foods and Beverages.” Available at:  
  2. Green, Elizabeth, “Flavor trends 2018: Innova Market Insights tips overseas influences, plant goodness & indulgence as key drivers.” Available at:   
  3. “The Science of Dairy Flavor Technologies.” Edlong, 2017.