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In 2006, it appears that Middle Eastern, North African, and Eastern Mediterranean cuisines will take center stage, as word of their exquisite spicing varieties spreads from foodie circles to the mainstream. Such a flavor profile is in contrast to the fruity/heat combinations found in 2005's headliners: Asian, Spanish, and Latin.
Nutritionally rich super foods also will be hot this year, as consumers continue to search for magical flavors that address medical concerns. Packaged Facts predicts that the use of spices as nutritional ingredients will rise, as will the fast-moving trend of assimilation, where a flavor breaks out of its traditional box and branches out. Examples from 2005 included such innovations as carrot chipotle juice and chipotle-flavored fig nuggets.
"Variety and innovation are the spice of life in today's flavor market and we can expect to see more smoky, strong flavors, pungent flavors and cool/fiery combinations, as well as sweet tones mixed with spicy, tart, and salty," said Don Montuori, the publisher of Packaged Facts. "Look for new cooking technologies to emerge as well, such as non-edible spice wraps, flavor sprays, and sous vide, a method of vacuum sealing that creates incredibly delicate, tender, and flavorful foods."