Medicinal mushrooms and savory peppers: more predictions for 2016

Photo: iStock

Consumer retail information collected by Spins found that North American buyers will have a taste for the spicy and savory, announced in its latest TrendWatch report.

In this age of information and data, forecasting seems to be the thing to do—Campbell Soup predicted a rise in Thai and French food, and Sensient sees American palates gravitating towards South East Asian pandan and Mexican chamoy sauce. Now, Spins, a Chicago-based retail consumer analytics firm, predicts “spices from around the world are tantalizing our palates towards diverse and specialty flavors.” Three times the charm?

Keeping tabs of spices

It appears that more North American consumers are looking beyond hot and spicy, noticing the subtlety and nuances every pepper and preparation can offer. Accordingly, flavors American eaters will be pining for range from North African dukka, harissa, and sumac; Southeast Asian sambal; Korean gochujang; and Indian ghost pepper.

“Of particular interest to the spicy-loving crowd, ghost pepper has emerged as a specialty flavor in sauces, salsas, infused honey, chips, jerky and nuts,” the firm said in a press release. And while Korean flavors are already a familiar experience to most North Americans, “2nd generation Koreans are pioneering fusion style restaurants where staples like kimchi and gochujang are introduced to wider audiences.”

More room for ‘shrooms in the beverage industry

Also announced in its forecast, members of the Fungi kingdom are joining their plant cousins in becoming a popular ingredient for beverages, Spins’ analysts discovered. “In prior years, medicinal mushrooms were found mainly in dietary supplement form but are now commanding consumer attention in ready-to-drink tea.

“Another reason for piqued interest in mushrooms is an uptick in wild mushroom foraging,” the report said. “Plant-based eaters looking for a good alternative to the established bone broth trend can now turn to mushroom broths. As more people search for ways to reduce animal-based choices, attention towards mushrooms’ sustainable, hearty nourishment shows no signs of subsiding.”

One example is a startup FoodNavigator-USA covered last month, ChugaChaga, made out of the birch tree fungus Inonotus obliquus, popularly known as a major ingredient in Russian folk medicine.

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