Hottest Flavors in Meat and Poultry Right Now


Consumer tastes change constantly as people seek new gastronomic heights. In meat and poultry, this means everything from new cuts and new preparations to new marinades and sauces.

Based on recent surveys and purchasing trends, here are the hottest flavors in meat and poultry right now.


Last fall, food research and consulting firm Technomic crunched their numbers to identify this year’s top food trends. Number 1 on their list? “The sriracha effect.”

American tastes have been edging spicier in recent years as evidenced by the exploding popularity of hot sauces like sriracha. Once found only in Asian restaurants, this spicy condiment has garnered an almost cult-like following. In the Zagat 2016 National Dining Trends Survey, sriracha was the most popular trendy food, loved by nearly one-third of respondents.

Processors can capitalize on this trend by incorporating spicy sauces into ready-to-eat meals and marinated raw meats.

Spicy +

While spicy on its own is still a growing trend, today many consumers want spicy plus something else.

According to Technomic’s recent Flavor Consumer Trend Report, consumers want flavor combinations. Based on sales at the top U.S. restaurant chains, the leading flavor combination they’re looking for is spicy plus sweet (e.g., honey BBQ and mango habanero).

Spicy plus tangy is also gaining ground. This is the number one trend identified by McCormick & Co. in their 2016 Flavor Forecast. To achieve this winning flavor combination, they suggest pairing hot chilies with tangy accents like lime, tamarind, and cranberry.


Tastes are also trending toward the international. The National Restaurant Association’s 2016 chef survey identified five ethnic flavor trends:

  • African
  • Latin American
  • Middle Eastern
  • Southeast Asian
  • Mediterranean

Consumers don’t just want these flavors when they go out to restaurants — they want them at home as well. Meat+Poultry suggests that processors can meet consumer demands in a variety of ways, such as by providing ethnic flavors in refrigerated and frozen meals, sausages, and marinated raw meats.


Smoky flavors are continuing their upswing. In the National Restaurant Association survey mentioned above, smoking was the third most popular preparation method and the first on the list that relates primarily to meat (the first two are fermenting and pickling).

Processors can satisfy this flavor craving by smoking prepared meats or by adding ingredients such as smoked salts, chipotle, and smoked paprika to sauces and marinades.


Remember when bacon was just a breakfast meat? Now you can get everything from bacon-flavored mints to bacon-infused vodka to put in your chocolate bacon martini.

In just a few short years, bacon has gone from side dish to starring role. Especially with pork prices declining, the bacon craze is likely to continue.

The secret to achieving the perfect bacon is in the cooking. Currently, most precooked bacon is done in the microwave, which cooks the meat unevenly. Processors can achieve better results using Unitherm’s spiral oven process, which guarantees crispy homestyle bacon every time.

Where do you see meat and poultry flavors going for the rest of this year? Share your ideas with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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