Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

April 6, 2015
Flavor Ingredients Trends

Download the full report here!

Craving Fire

Hungry for layers of flavor and experimental dining, consumers are seeking the flavors of fire – charred, flamed, wood-grilled, fire-roasted and smoked, which have adapted from ways of preparation into flavors themselves. These cookery techniques give diners the experience they are looking for, offering sensory cues including a smoky aroma, charred texture, grill-marked presentation and of course, woody flavor and taste. Recognizing the unique craftsmanship behind the preparation and adopting it into a flavor has allowed smoke, in particular to move past traditional savory dishes into other categories like beverages, desserts and snacks.

Smoking is the process of flavoring, cooking or preserving food by exposing it to smoke from burning or smoldering material, most often wood. Meats and fish are the most common smoked foods, although cheese, vegetables and ingredients used to make beverages such as smoked beer and lapsang souchong tea are also smoked.

Flavor Snapshot: Smoke

  •  Top Restaurant Segment: Casual dining,

  • Top 4 Claims: No additives/preservatives, gluten-free, low/no/reduced allergen and vegetarian.

  • Top Global Flavor Pairings: Smoke bacon, smoke maple, smoke chipotle, smoke BBQ and smoke sea salt.

  • Top 3 Categories: dairy, snacks, sauces & seasonings.

Smoky Hot Spots: We're Spotting Smoke Everywhere!

Smoke’s classic yet trendy flavor speaks to both tradition and comfort along with experimentation and uniqueness. Check out how these print publications used and featured smoke in their recipes:

Saveur features an article titled “Burnt Citrus Salt,” boasting the unique flavor of charred citrus fruits. The recipe calls for a mixture of lemon, lime, orange, maldon salt and recommends this smoky topping for meat, fish and even potato chips!

Food Network features in the “Weekend Cooking” section, a recipe for Smoky Bloody Marys which includes peppered bacon, tomato juice, bacon-flavored vodka, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and chipotle hot sauce, topped with ground pepper and celery salt.

Food Network features several sauce pairings for spiced fries. A interesting recipe for Smoky Barbecue Sauce includes adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles), barbecue sauce and maple syrup.

Prevention suggests substituting smoked black cod for your next lunch to take advantage of its omega-3 benefits. This recipe includes sprouted rye bread, cabbage and miso, and is inspired by chefs Nick Balla and Courtney Burns of Bar Tartine in San Francisco.

We also spotted smoke on Pinterest! Read about our interesting findings and download the full report here!

Smoke Flavor: Globally

(January 2011 - April 2015)
1,172 New product introductions.

Globally, smoke flavored new product launches have seen an overall increase of 56% since January 2011. All regions are showing growth within this time period but Europe (specifically the UK) is taking the lead with a total of 614 introductions. In terms of sub-category, hard cheese & semi-hard cheese, meat snacks, table sauces, meat pastes and potato snacks are the top five categories in the global market for smoke flavor.

Products of Note:

  • Pirana Smoked Sea Salt Flavored Toasted Peanuts: Argentina

  • Strumpf Smoked Ketchup: Brazil

  • Sacla Italia Kale & Smoked Ricotta Pesto: UK

  • Chado Nilgiri Green Smokey Tea: India

Smoke Flavor: In North America

(January 2011 - Apri 2015)

253 New product introductions. 

In North America, smoke flavored new product launches have seen an overall increase of 22% from 2011 to 2014. In 2015, we can expect to see this growth continue, especially within the snacks, sauces & seasonings and dairy sectors. Smoke has shown to be a versatile flavor with its appearance across the market in several different categories. Snacks, sauces and seasonings, dairy, savory spreads, and alcoholic beverages are the top five growing sub-categories.

Products of Note:

The Stone Brewing Smoked Porter with Chocolate & Orange Peel Beer

Smoked Lime & Tequila BBQ Sauce

Empire Mayonnaise Co. Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise

Strong & Kind Honey Smoked BBQ Almond Protein Bar
Smoke On The Menu

The technique of smoking, grilling, charring, wood-firing and the alike all lend themselves to the smoky, cooked flavor that is highlighted on many menus. Specific smoking techniques and flavors are often called out such as Applewood-Smoked, Hickory, Pit-Smoked, Cherry Wood-Smoked and Mesquite.

•   Jimmy V’s Steakhouse & Tavern, North Carolina Wedge Salad featuring bleu cheese crumbles, grape tomatoes and pecan-smoked bacon.
•   Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Pit, East Coast Smoked Maple Blueberry Manhattan featuring Knob creek Smoked Maple Bourbon, blueberry puree and fresh oranges.
•   Beacon Restaurant & Bar, New York Caramel Bourbon featuring Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, caramel and smoked vanilla ice cream.
•   Jean Georges, New York Roasted Apricot featuring chartreuse sabayon, apricot sorbet and smoked paprika.
•   Front Page News, Atlanta Smoke Stack sandwich featuring pickled jalapeños, fried tabacco onions, tomato and smoky BBQ mayo.


The Sweet Side of Smoke

Smoke is well versed in the savory category but its migration to the sweet side has resulted in desserts and confectionary treats boasting hints of smoke flavor. During a recent trend excursion to the Chicago French Market, FONA’s Trend Team soptted smoke being used in several different chocolate bars. Take a look!



Let FONA’s market insight and research experts translate these trends into product category ideas for your brand. They can help you with concept and flavor pipeline development, ideation, consumer studies and white space analysis to pinpoint opportunities in the market. Our flavor and product development experts are also at your service to help meet the labeling and flavor profile needs for your products to capitalize on this consumer trend. We understand how to mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution. From concept to manufacturing, we’re here every step of the way. Contact our Sales Service Department at 630.578.8600 to request a flavor sample or visit www.fona.com.