Honey Anchors Flavor Pairings in 2023

Smize cream

Photo Credit: SMiZE Cream

Consumers want more than a one-note flavor profile, and manufacturers who elevate ingredient fusions in 2023 with something even more than before — using honey as the sweetener — will win in the next year.

Sweet heat-er will drive 2023.
Honey is one of the tried and true flavors driving the most individual unit sales in the industry, IRI’s Sally Lyons Wyatt said during Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s ‘Top Flavor Trends in Snack & Bakery Products’ webinar. Flavor combinations are where overall dollars are growing, but the craving for something extra is on fire. Hot and spicy honey fusions — think sriracha, jalapeno and smoky barbecue — are heating up with consumers. This emerging category took shape via a number of made-with-honey products:

Honey Jalapeno Hummus Dip, Fresh Cravings
The perfect combination of sweet and savory, this snack dip is packed full of sweet honey and a kick of jalapeno. The Phoenix-based salsa and dip flavor debuted at IDDBA ‘22 as part of an introduction to new flavors in the category.

Photo Credit: Fresh Cravings
Photo Credit: Rufus Teague

Honey Roasted BBQ Almonds, Rufus Teague
The popular sauce maker entered the snack product market by taking its legendary Honey Sweet BBQ flavor and honey roasting it into a uniquely-flavored nut blend. Nuts are a fun way to combine sweet, spicy and flaming-type flavors that Lyons Wyatt said IRI will be monitoring in the future.

Jazzy Honey Mustard Kettle Chips, Zapp’s
Lyons Wyatt mentioned Zapp’s as a company that’s pushing the envelope to give the consumer a fun experience, thanks to proprietary signature seasonings. New Orleans-inspired Honey Mustard Kettle Chips are for snack lovers who expect bigger and bolder flavors.

Photo Credit: Zapp's

Sweet is the top taste profile in the U.S., according to Tastewise’s ‘Top Flavor & Ingredients Trends for 2023’ report. Will sweet alone drive volume like blended, bold flavors? Tastewise said not necessarily. Fusion flavors will fill the gap, “offering an adventurous twist to a stagnant category.” Spicy honey, for example, has grown 26% in interest in the last year, “aligning with a rising need for adventurous flavors.

Photo Credit: Golden Nest

What can we expect next in hot honey fusions?
One-third of all spicy honey use pairs with chicken, as seen in Golden Nest’s Chicken Jerky Bites - Honey Sriracha. The top selling honey jerky is individually wrapped in bite-sized servings, uniquely made with an open-flame grill and glaze process that reduces “bad” fat content while locking in natural juices and flavors. “There’s a similar exercise with meat snacks,” Lyons Wyatt noted. “Not only with variety types, but flavors. There’s always been this hot, spicy type of meat snack, but now you’re combining hot with honey.”

Taking the honey-plus-unique-nostalgic-ingredient trend a step further, product developers are adding indulgence to fusion dishes. Products like SMiZE Cream’s Hot Honey Fried Cornbread Ice Cream and Van Leeuwen’s Hot Honey Ice Cream have provided dessert lovers with a familiar sweetener — honey — and then gone in a brand new fusion direction. Tastewise noted that consumers are responding: Interest in hot honey in frozen desserts is up 150%.

Photo Credit: Van Leeuwen

We can’t wait to see what product developers bring to store shelves in the next year. Interested in learning more about blending honey with the next unique ingredient? Email [email protected] to get started.