The foodies and leaders in the food industry have released their predictions on the food trends of 2022. Often, these food and flavor trends offer little value to the average food and beverage manufacturer because of their inability to scale for the masses.
While exotic ingredients and sensational flavor profiles in food and drink may make for click-worthy headlines, they’re often impractical for the average consumer who simply wants a satisfying meal or snack at a price point they can afford.
The pandemic’s influence on food trends for 2022 is expected to persist. We’ve gathered the data, researched what other influencers in the food and beverage industry are saying, and added conclusions in this article.
Top 2022 trends in the food and beverage industry:
2.Non – Alcoholic Drinks
6.Upcycled and Sustainable Ingredients
7.Reduced Sodium and Sugar
9.Return to Traditional Proteins
10.Continued Supply Chain Disruption
1. Experiential Dining
Outdoor dining, beer gardens, prepackaged meals from convenience stores or grocers, and limited menu offerings help patrons go beyond microwave meals. These types of foodservice models allow consumers to get out of the kitchen while remaining in a safe setting, which is still a top priority for many.
While already a trend in the sense that people have adopted food delivery and takeout, these actions will become a regular habit in 2022, allowing patrons to create their own experience at home. Restaurant chains that had the foresight to offer delivery options and contactless pick-up prior to the onset of the pandemic have had an upper hand.
2. Non Alcoholic Drinks:
Non-alcoholic drinks Getting drunk and suffering from a hangover is so 2017. With healthy lifestyles gaining a new focus, mocktails and low or 0 ABV (Alcohol by Volume) drinks are now on the rise. This follows, since the alt-cult of ‘Sober Curiosity’ seems to be having its time in the sun with GenZ. What is it? Simply abstaining from alcohol. And as this gains momentum, the beverages’ industry is all up in arms to appeal to consumers from the said cohort. Svami, for instance, has released variants like Gin & Tonic and Rum & Cola that are alcohol-free. Apart from this we also have modish brands like Kati Patang with variants like NOT Cosmopolitan and NOT Old Fashioned. Coolberg and &Stirred have a range of flavored non-alcoholic beers and premixed mocktails like Hibiscus Cosmo and Mexican Mule, respectively. Even famous brands in the alcohol sector like Kingfisher, Heineken and Budweiser have understood the assignment and released alcohol-free beers. Restaurants too have joined the movement by adding more mocktail variants to their menus to keep up with the trend.
3. Immune-Boosting Foods
Not surprisingly, foods that have immune-boosting claims are popping up everywhere. Even products that were mainstays for years are modifying their packaging to call out potential immune-boosting ingredients or nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and D, protein and others.
Foods that naturally contain these types of ingredients without modification are more appealing to consumers. Whey protein, for example, contains all nine essential amino acids to enhance immune system function. Leveraging the benefits of whey protein in formulations will improve nutrition, flavor, texture and functionality.
4. Meal Kits
Related to the food delivery trend is a surge in subscription meal kits. The COVID-19 pandemic helped the market for “meals in a box” rebound when millions of Americans found themselves under stay-at-home orders with more time on their hands to prepare meals. Seeing how other food delivery services have flourished may have given consumers more confidence in the meal kit subscription model which one in five consumers say they’ve tried.
Meal kit companies will offer a broader range of options to customers, from traditional comfort foods, to ethnically inspired dishes, to those that cater to alternative diets such as gluten-free, Paleo, Keto and others.
5. Food Transparency
Where food is sourced is increasingly of interest to consumers, and they’re catching on to marketing messages and labeling practices that conveniently omit certain information. As an example, while a label may state that a food product is manufactured in the U.S., the ingredients may actually be imported from other countries, not all of which uphold the strict food safety regulations that have been established stateside.
Consumers want to know where their food comes from, how it was produced and how it was sourced, making ingredient transparency and a strict chain of custody more important than ever.
6. Upcycled and Sustainable Ingredients
Even though consumer interest in upcycled ingredients is relatively low, business interest increased 162% in 2020, showing the food industry’s proactive approach to sustainability. Once consumers are educated about the topic, 80% said they would consider purchasing upcycled ingredient products.
Not only do consumers want to know where their food comes from; they also want to know its impact on the environment and whether it contributes to climate change. These concerns are leading some consumers to reach for renewable food sources like grains, legumes and even algae and seaweed. Foods that help reduce waste are also on trend, including using misshapen fruits and vegetables that aren’t Instagram-worthy in appearance.
On the forefront of upcycled food initiatives is the production of whey protein concentrates. Powdered whey protein is an up cycled and sustainable food ingredient sought after by consumers, especially those on Keto and other trending diets. At one time, whey was discarded as part of the cheesemaking process, but is now upcycled into functional and nutritious ingredients for soups, sauces, dressings, meal replacement bars, protein supplements, beverages and more.
Not to be forgotten is sustainable packaging. Food companies are moving from plastic and composites to paper and mono-materials, with many brands aiming to produce 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025.
7. Reduced Sodium and Sugar
Remember when clean labels were a trend? The clean label trend doesn’t get as much air time these days because it’s become the expectation. Consumers are now scrutinizing the health benefits of two of those clean label ingredients, in particular.
While salt and sugar are recognizable and generally considered all-natural, excessive amounts of these two ingredients are a red flag for consumers. Low-sodium formulations that still taste great and those that contain reduced sugar will have an upper hand.
While spices are always going to be the fundamental unit of Indian cuisine, let’s take a moment and talk about the number of condiments that have entered the market. Since the pandemic, people have rushed back to the kitchen with a new gusto and that could be the catalyst behind this trend. This is now visible in the rise of products that focus on making cooking at home easier. From older brands like Native Tongue and Nomad Food Project that have caused positive disruption with intriguing condiments like alubukhara preserve and bacon thechas respectively; to newer ones such as Chutney Collective (helmed by ex-O Pedro sous chef VeltonSaldanha) and Wonder Foods and Farms that are helping us upgrade our pantry with delectable options for spread, pastes and ready-to-cook sauces. Even brands like Ishka Farms that focused mostly on ingredients like capers and moringa are now joining hands with chefs like DiveshAswani of the Commis Station to release unique condiments like black garlic caper spread and a truly delightful sofrito.
9. Return to Traditional Proteins
The plant-based food trend isn’t necessarily going anywhere, but those who were meat-eaters and wanted to try plant-based proteins will return to their traditional steaks and burgers. Traditionalists and average consumers on a budget don’t want to sacrifice flavor, texture and the sensory pleasures of eating.
Perhaps as plant proteins continue to improve, they’ll try them again in the future. They’ll have a long, uphill battle to gain market share against one of the world’s leading high-protein ingredients — whey protein isolate — used in protein bars and nutritional products.
Undeniably, plant-based proteins are growing in popularity as an alternative to meat, but the latest research shows that whey protein is growing its market share in stride. Whether plant-based bacon will convince consumers of its virtues over the real thing is yet to be seen.
10. Continued Supply Chain Disruption
On the heels of major supply chain and distribution channel disruptions that began in 2020, some concern remains. In addition to it, the war between Russia and Ukraine had disrupted supply chains around the world, including India. The revival from the Covid-19 pandemic was an ongoing job. While we are focusing on growth and recovery with a predictable tax regime, India is facing the situation of a full-blown war, which is having an impact on all countries. This war is having an impact on supplies; unexpected material demands, substantially increased pricing, value chains are broken; and global markets are caught up in a situation where nothing is normal. This has presented a serious challenge to the already stressed retailers, food manufacturers and traders etc.