Dairy gets creative with new flavours and cuisines

Opportunities to excite consumers with new tastes are creating fresh ideas for brands

04 Aug 2023

6 min

#Blog #All Categories #Global

Fonterra’s Core Dairy Category Innovation Insights Lead, Nick Hall, takes a look at the rising trend for new flavours and cuisines in markets with changing tastes and preferences.

In 2023, the demand for varied cuisines has become a global trend. As flavour and sensory preferences collide, this new territory provides brands with an amazing opportunity to expand dairy consumption in markets with unique needs and desires. This consumer trend for new flavours and cuisines includes countless possibilities to explore micro trends like flavour innovation, edible escapism and fusion culture.

Flavour innovation

Consumers are increasingly looking for new flavours that take their senses on a real journey. Dairy brands offering the next new flavour experience that satisfies this craving, are well-positioned to gain further market share. By experimenting with unexpected flavours, textures, colours and aroma, dairy brands can create a multisensory experience for their consumers. Brands can make these experiences truly memorable by focussing on unique food and beverage combinations as well as limited edition product launches.1

Around the world, consumers are seeking out new and different flavours


of Thai consumers aged 18-34 are inspired to try new flavours that go viral on social media2


of Canadian consumers aged 25-44 find unexpected flavours in baked goods appealing2


of Japanese consumers look for new foods and flavours to try all or most of the time2


While exploring new flavour sensations, consumers are drawn to indulgent products that offer health benefits. Dairy brands can offer the perfect solution by highlighting the natural health benefits of dairy such as calcium, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. Products made with NZMP ingredients can also be fortified with additional vitamins and minerals to cater further for this market. 

Bowls of ice cream and blueberries and mint leaves

Edible escapism

During the global pandemic, restrictions made it harder for consumers to travel, eat out, and socialise. This led to spending more time at home and as a result, consumers’ general sense of happiness and mental wellbeing were impacted. To help boost these feelings of despair, brands used flavour to provide consumers with moments of escape.3

Dairy brands marketing edible escapism should, however, balance their indulgent products with the health benefits of their ingredients. The guilt factor can turn off consumers who value their health.4 Brands need to reposition these products as permissible indulgences or even self-care must-haves. Innovations in this mindful area are being taken to a whole new level, with a focus on positioning indulgent products as essential coping mechanisms with health benefits rather than guilty pleasures.

Consumers want indulgent food without the guilt


of US consumers enjoy more decadent options and less restrictive eating patterns5


of US consumers agree that their mental health is negatively impacted by calorie counting5


of Italian consumers agree that choosing food and beverages that make them feel guilty reduces the enjoyment factor5


Dairy brands are positioning their products by unapologetically promoting indulgent, healthy goodness. Open and direct on-pack claims are also helping brands target this trend by engaging consumers.6

Nice & Natural embraces the guilt-free movement

Crafted with wholesome ingredients such as milk, oats, and rice puffs, these Nice & Natural Thick Shake Bars are free of artificial colours and flavours, and score 4/5 on the health star rating with less than one teaspoon of sugar.

Source: Mintel GNPD

Slimfit provides edible escapism in a sports food

Slimfit’s Chocolate Indulgence Ultra-Low Carb Lean Protein Shake is an indulgent sports food. It provides consumers with the added nutritional support of vitamins and minerals important to the metabolic process including fat loss.

Source: Mintel GNPD

Edible escapism in the form of novelty and surprise

A good strategy to connect with young consumers is to introduce delicious, guilt-free experiences with mystery flavours, surprise tactics, and shareable brand events. In the UK, Cadbury created a buzz by asking their followers to predict the flavours of two brand-new mystery chocolate bars.

Source: Mintel GNPD

Fusion culture

With consumers eager to broaden their culinary horizons, the sophistication of food mash-ups is certainly trending. Social media plays a big part in fusion culture, with people using these platforms to express themselves. Consumers are finding enjoyment and entertaining their wider social circles by showcasing their sophisticated tastes in new and unusual food and beverages.

Soy sauce ice cream

Kikkoman has created a toasted sesame ice cream laced with umami-rich, naturally brewed soy sauce (UK). The high levels of umami in Kikkoman bring out the flavour of sesame and the sweetness of the ice cream.

Source: Minel GNPD,

Chipotle chocolate

Chocolates of the World Spicy Chipotle Dark Chocolate is made with chipotle chilli pepper powder for an extra kick and with a nod to Mexican cuisine (US).

Source: Mintel GNPD

The fusion culture trend also explores aroma, texture, and virtual/technological experiences. As a sensory attribute, aroma can unlock new food and beverage product launches that offer consumers moments of relaxation and even evoke memories.6 By amplifying textures, dairy brands can provide variety and new interactions with flavours while broadening the versatility of a product.

Technological developments can push the boundaries of conventional brand/consumer experiences into advanced, sophisticated, and virtual options.

Excite consumers with new flavours and cuisine

Flavour innovation, edible escapism and fusion culture can all help consumers to explore new flavours and cuisine. The opportunities for dairy brands to focus on these trends and develop new and exciting products are practically limitless. With clear messaging, brands can build strong links between health, wellbeing, and flavours.

As they adopt a more holistic approach to both physical and mental wellbeing, consumers are looking for food and beverages that will deliver on functional qualities without compromising taste.6 When looking to explore new flavours and cuisine, consumers will seek out products that clearly identify health benefits through simple on-pack messaging. This gives dairy brands the perfect opportunity to create incredible new tastes and experiences made with the natural goodness of NZMP ingredients.

If you would like to discuss how you can push your product development to the next level and captivate your consumers, talk to your NZMP Account Manager, or contact NZMP below.


Nick Hall

Insights Lead, Category Innovation Core Dairy, Fonterra

Nick is the Insights Lead for the Core Dairy Marketing Team at Fonterra. Prior to joining Fonterra, Nick has worked for a variety of Research Agencies throughout his 20+ years in the industry, most notably Nielsen, MarketPulse International and Perceptive Research.

During this time, Nick has acquired a variety of research skills and knowledge which have been applied to various qualitative and quantitative research studies for a number of Global Corporate Accounts including McDonalds and Chevron.

In his current role, Nick provides critical insights generation across Consumer, Market, Competitor, Customer, and Category lenses which are used to support key business actions, strategic initiatives, and customer engagements.

The views expressed above are the opinion of the author, not those of Fonterra, and Fonterra is not responsible for any decisions taken in reliance on the same.

  • 1. Mintel, 2023 Global Food & Drink Trend, Unguilty Pleasures
  • 2. Dynata/Mintel, May 2021; Kantar Profiles/Mintel, December 2019; Rakuten Insight/Mintel, August 2022 Base: Thailand: 1,500 internet users aged 18+; Canada: 1,962 internet users aged 18+ who eat baked goods; Japan: 1,000 internet users aged 18+
  • 3. Global Trends report – Sept 2022, Fiftyfive5
  • 4. Mintel’s 2023 Global Food & Drink Trend, Unguilty Pleasures
  • 5. Kantar Profiles/Mintel, October 2022, February 2022 ( Base: US: 303 internet users aged 18+ who are following less restrictive eating patterns; US: 2,000 internet users aged 18+; Italy: 1,000 internet users aged 16+
  • 6. Mintel: Food and Drink Flavour Trends 2023
  • Fiftyfive5: Global Trends Study April 2023

Receive the latest NZMP news, insights & updates direct to your inbox