Why Tamarind Is McCormick's 2024 Flavor Of The Year

Last year, ubiquitous spice brand McCormick expanded its annual Flavor Forecast -- now in its 24th year -- to include a Flavor of the Year, declaring Vietnamese x Cajun Style Seasoning the flavor of 2023. For its second annual Flavor of the Year selection, McCormick picked an ingredient familiar across many cultures: tamarind.

Tamarind is a tree in the legume family producing  a fruit pod filled with a sweet and tangy pulp incorporated in culinary applications across the world -- most prominently in the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.

The selection corresponds with McCormick’s release of a Tamarind & Pasilla Chile Seasoning pairing the tangy-sweet flavor with some moderate heat. The brand partnered with New York’s Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer to showcase the new seasoning in menu items -- from a chicken burger, to fries, and even a milkshake -- available starting Feb. 1.



CPG Insider caught up with McCormick’s Hadar Cohen Aviram, executive chef and senior manager, culinary development, U.S. consumer,  to discuss the selection process.

CPG Insider:  How does McCormick make its Flavor of the Year selection?

Aviram: McCormick chefs, marketers, sensory scientists, and product developers from around the globe participated in a mix of virtual and in-person discovery sessions to uncover trends. Over the course of four months, more than 50 team members collaborated from San Francisco to South Africa, Mexico City and beyond, to taste, explore and investigate inspiring innovations and determine this year’s Flavor Forecast and Flavor of the Year. The Flavor of the Year is one that not only comes up consistently in global observations, but also embodies each of the trends forecast in the report.

CPG Insider: Why is tamarind primed to trend in 2024?

Aviram: The tangy-sweet tamarind is a world traveler, which originated in Africa, India and the Middle East, and has been adopted in cuisine across the globe due to its versatility, creating new flavor combinations that are inspired by other cultures.

CPG Insider: How does the selection align with the overall trends McCormick forecast in its report, and what are some examples of tamarind being used in ways demonstrating these trends?

Aviram: The first trend is Thoughtfully Borrowed, which spotlights a new approach to lifting and borrowing authentic ingredients, dishes or techniques: while “fusion” is more of an artistic choice, new cuisine mashups are an intentional and thoughtful take based on one’s heritage, lived experience and background - and enable truly authentic storytelling. Tamarind is one of those staple ingredients that is borrowed and used in innovative ways. This trend comes to life through [one of the recipes featured in the forecast], Furikake Bucatini with Spicy Garlic Chili Crisp, which celebrates the flavors, experiences, and cuisines of Japan and Italy, using pasta as a vehicle to let Japanese flavors shine.

The second trend is Sour Power - where we’re seeing dishes and products leveraging not only the flavors that come with different acidic agents, but also the craveability-enhancing effect that comes with using tangy ingredients, which keeps you coming back for more. T

amarind is a full-flavored tangy fruit, well-loved in some regions and a newcomer in others,  and its well-rounded flavor profile holds its own as both the star and supporting act, helping to bring balance to richer dishes or brightness to lighter dishes. For example, Duck Egg Rolls with Chipotle Tamarind Sauce is a classic dish with a sour-powered twist that creates the perfect fruity, tangy contrast to the overall richness of the dish.

And the third and final trend this year is Indulgence Redefined, which is all about self-expression through food. We saw it specifically through food maximalism -- intentional layering of flavors and textures, and “newstalgic” flavors that enable us to capture a feeling in time. Tamarind is one of those ingredients that can help build a personalized flavor profile and unlock a delicious nostalgic item in a new way. For example, Tamarind Pasilla Pineapple Upside Down Cake is an updated version of the classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake, infusing the Tamarind and Pasilla Chile Seasoning for a fruity flavor with unexpected mild heat.

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