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From fernet to burnt calamansi, these are the food and beverage flavors to watch for in 2014

Here's something I did not know: Fernet is an aromatic spirit or bitter containing myrrh, chamomile, cardamom, aloe and saffron.

December 20, 2013
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Good old Ginger Plum. No, she wasn't an old girlfriend from my hippie days. Rather it is a key flavor trend for 2014, according to the experts at Sensient Flavors in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, Ill.

They define Ginger Plum as "a juicy, sweet and tart plum with a touch of spice from ginger that delivers multiple sensory experiences." Come to think of it, that does describe my old flame pretty darn well.

Sensient Flavors sifted trends reports and conducted its own research to find out what the flavor trends will be in 2014. The flavor gurus paired the flavors with "micro-trends" (see definitions at the end of this article). The crystal ball gazers also came up with these mega-trends: Health & Wellness, Sensory and Personalization.)

Getting back to the hot flavors of 2014: the envelope please:

1. Balsamic Fig – A harmonious blend of full-flavored figs and aged dark balsamic vinegar. Neither too sweet nor too tart, it is a mellow combination that elevates the sensory experience when added to a variety of other flavors and works well in myriad formats. (Key micro-tend: Taste Plus. See below for the description of this micro-trend and others.)
2. Burnt Calamansi – A hybrid of a kumquat and mandarin orange, Burnt Calamansi is the next generation of citrus flavors. A unique citrus profile similar to a sour orange or a slightly sweeter lime with caramelized notes, with a fragrance to match. (Key micro-tend: Sophistication)
3. Fernet – An aromatic spirit or bitter containing myrrh, chamomile, cardamom, aloe and saffron. A digestif popular in Italy, Fernet is flavored with lengthy, and often secret, lists of spices, roots and herbs. (Key micro-tend: Regional)
4. Ginger Plum – A juicy, sweet and tart plum with a touch of spice from ginger that delivers multiple sensory experiences. (Key micro-tend: Taste Plus)
5. Gochujang – Described as “the new Siracha sauce,” Gochujang is a savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, rice, fermented soybeans and salt. (Key micro-tend: Bragging Rights)
6. Green Coconut – Green (young) coconut gained its initial recognition in the U.S. from the rise of popularity of coconut water, which stemmed from the claim of its superiority over traditional sports drinks. (Key micro-tend: Lifestyle Management)
7. Guasaca – A Venezuelan avocado sauce, many have likened it to guacamole, but with a refreshing difference in flavor profile due to the addition of bright, fresh parsley notes. (Key micro-tend: Regional)
8. Juniper Berries – Consumers long for the decadence of an expertly mixed cocktail in its proper type of glass. Gin, primarily flavored with Juniper berries, invokes a feeling of that elegant past era. (Key micro-tend: Nostalgic)
9. Rhubarb – With antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, rhubarb helps boost the immune system and fight off disease. (Key micro-tend: Lifestyle Management)
10. Ros el Hanout – Its name in Arabic means “top of the shop,” or the best spices the merchant had to offer. Typically including cardamom, clove, cinnamon, chili peppers, coriander, cumin, peppercorn, paprika, fenugreek and turmeric, Ros el Hanout brings the flavors and culture of Morocco to consumers’ doorsteps. (Key micro-tend: Regional)
11. Tayberry – A cross between a blackberry and a red raspberry, tayberries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants and are a welcome addition for the health-conscious consumer. (Key micro-tend: Lifestyle Management)
12. Willamette Hop – Used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent, hops impart a bitter, tangy flavor in beer, and increasingly, in confections and other unexpected food products. (Key micro-tend: Bragging Rights)

Micro-trend descriptions:
Bragging Rights – Falling under the Personalization mega trend, the Bragging Rights micro-trend addresses the thrill to be the first to uncover the newest sensation.
Lifestyle Management – A Health & Wellness micro-trend that speaks to consumers’ quest for tools that help them stay on track to their personal goals and live better on a daily basis.
Nostalgia – Another Health & Wellness micro-trend, Nostalgia is about inducing a positive emotional response as consumers anchor their emotions to another time or place where things were simpler & perceived as happier. Familiar or local food from the past.
Regional – a Sensory micro-trend addressing consumer desire to experience other cultures and places in the world through eating cuisine from other regions and experimenting with unique flavors in their own way.
Sophistication – A Personalization micro-trend. Gourmet tastes helps consumers identify with the finer side of things and express their personalities. Varietals are an example of taking the familiar and refining it. Secret menus, un-marked bar entrances or hidden & VIP loyalty programs make consumers feel like they are “in-the-know” and just one step above the masses.
Taste Plus – A Sensory micro-trend addressing a digital world where more of life is virtual and online and consumers place a premium on sensory stimulation that cuts through the clutter and adds value to their daily lives.

If you do see Ginger Plum, ask her about the time we danced the Tayberry at the Willamette Hop. It will get you licking your lips.

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