Kerry dives into global potential of barbecue

Private brand food and beverage partner finds barbecue has emerged as the world’s top trending flavor for snacks, meats and more.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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According to Kerry, barbecue is where it’s at for 2021. The Beloit, Wis.-based food and beverage partner, including for private label, found barbecue and 26 different styles of it topped its global taste study.

The company created a taste chart across Europe, North America and other regions, identifying emerging and leading barbecue flavors across the globe. Kerry also cited a stat from Innova that said, one in every seven new products developed around the world is barbecue-focused, while in Europe 43% of new food and beverage launches in 2021 featured barbecue as a component. Asia has the most potential, with new product launches up almost one-third (to 21%) in the last five years. In addition, more than 33% of all sauces and seasoning products launched during 2016–20 call out barbecue on the front of the package, along with 30% of new snack products. Barbecue is now ranked number three on the list of top snack flavors globally, and fifth in meat flavors (“smoked” is number one), per the Innova Database of New Product Launches.

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A few years back Kerry invested in the Wisconsin-based barbecue company Red Arrow to form Kerry Red Arrow, which can craft authentic barbecue, smoke and grill flavors for clients and private label opportunities. The company said barbecue flavors can be used in snacks, meats, plant-based meat alternatives, vegetables, sauces, dips, marinades and seasonings.

“Barbecue might just be the world’s new favorite taste, and the global-leading barbecue trend our analysts are seeing right now shows that consumers everywhere are looking for new and ethnic-inspired specific tastes — such as Korean, Texas or Brazilian — in various meat and snack products,” said Soumya Nair, global director, consumer research and insights, Kerry. “Consumers love the balance of sweetness, salt, spices and smoke that seems to enhance virtually any application, and we regularly witness new barbecue-flavored items showing up on menus and in stores in foods such as snacks, meats and meat alternatives."


In its research of barbecue, Kerry identified 39 main global variations and traditions from around the world — ranging from Memphis and Texas in North America to kebab in the Middle East, yakitori, char sui and tandoori in Asia, khorovats from Armenia, to jerk in Latin America. Barbecue has also begun to enter the mash-up trend, with curry, sweet chili and beer-inspired barbecue flavors emerging globally, the company noted.

“Our research is confirming that today’s global consumers don’t just crave ethnic-inspired dishes, snacks and flavorings, but also that they’re demanding authentic experiences and tastes that are true to their regions of origin. Moreover, they’re actively looking for these interesting new snacks, sauces and meat,” said Nair. “To keep pace with consumer desires, brands must now move faster than evolving cravings for complex and culturally nuanced barbecue tastes. It’s vital in this shifting environment that new barbecue flavor innovations meet consumer expectations for the ‘real’ flavor of foods cooked over flames. Although barbecue is described differently everywhere, fire, the world’s oldest cooking method, is at its core — seared, so to speak, in our global shared DNA.”