Emerging spice blends offer culinary opportunity: Mintel

Berbere, ras el hanout and togarashi are ripe for foodservice application, say Mintel researchers

Research firm Mintel identified emerging flavor trends that have potential for application in foodservice. In its 2018 U.S. Flavor Trends Report, global spice blends were identified as having unique potential for restaurants and foodservice organizations. Examples of emerging spice blends include berbere, an ethiopian spice, ras el hanout (a mix from North Africa), and Togarashi (a spice blend used in Japanese cooking). “These blends can emerge from a variety of (global) cuisines, including African, Middle Eastern, and Asian. While the components that make up each blend can differ, what remains constant is the sheer versatility of each spice blend with various foods,” says the report.


Berbere is a blend of several spices, including ginger, basil, chili peppers, and garlic. It’s been used in stews, notes Mintel, and on beef, chicken, eggplants and lentil. A US Foods report in 2017 called out berbere for its potential use in “global breakfast” foods. According to The Washington Post, there are few chefs that mix the berbere blend themselves, opting instead to purchase it premixed from a trusted supplier. The article cautions that berbere that is not mixed right my result in too much salt, which would impact the flavor of what it’s used on adversely.

Ras el hanout

Ras el hanout is a variable and evolving spice, typically including cardamom, cumin, and ginger. The foie gras mousse, a plate at D.C.’s Arroz restaurant, is made of caramelized maple butter, blueberry jam and a ras el hanout doughnut. In Turkish cuisine, turkey and turkey meatballs have been dishes that have benefited from the spice blend’s complex flavors.


Togarashi is added to soups and proteins and saw a 9 percent increase in mentions on menus from 2015 to 2017. In fact, as a RAMMYS finalist contender in 2017, D.C.’s own Hazel Restaurant included the spice in a Corn Donburi recipe submitted to the blog of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. Circa has featured a Seared Ahi Tuna with togarashi seasoning, according to DC Refined. Togarashi is expected to continue its trajectory of popularity in restaurants in Greater Washington D.C. Area, as well as across the country.

This article was originally published in the spring issue of Eatery Pulse News. Read more stories like this one in our digital platform.

Photo credit: Minn Ling

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