7 Food & Beverage Trends to Follow in 2022

As the New Year kick-starts, while taking a cue from the major events in 2021, we look at trends that are likely to continue dominating in the upcoming year as well. The pandemic has resulted in a major shift in the food and beverage trends in the past few years and with social-distancing norms continuing to remain in place, things are more or less likely to be the same in 2022, too.

Here’s the lowdown on a few trends that are likely to influence the food and beverage trends.

Experiencing the world through tastebuds

Food is an emotion. Most people are connected with a particular flavor or traditional style of cooking. However, people would continue to remain more open to the idea of experimenting with food and would love to try out unexpected and unique twists in taste. The lockdowns introduced in the aftermath of the pandemic gave ample time to individuals to experiment with new cuisines, tastes, and food trends from across the world. People are open to the idea of cuisine exploration, which has witnessed a rise. People are keen to travel the world through their tastebuds. Yuzu, hibiscus, ube, and tzatziki, to list just a few are some of the newer food flavors that have been trending so far. In all likelihood, this list will grow in the months to come.

When it comes to the popular menu from across the world, Mexican, Italian and Chinese cuisines continue to hold their dominance, a younger breed of consumers is keen on trying dishes from the African and Mediterranean cuisines or dishes with exotic tastes.

More plant-based food on the platter

In the past few years, there has been a steady shift among consumers with a preference for plant-based meats and sugar substitutes. In all possibilities, the trend is likely to go mainstream as the demand surges further. There is also an inclination towards simpler and real ingredients when it comes to food choices.

Globally, the plant-based meat market is estimated to touch $85 billion by the year 2030. A&W completely sold out their Beyond Meat nuggets in 1,000 stores across Canada; Panda Express sold their Beyond Meat orange chicken in full capacity during a test in New York and LA. The year 2022 is likely to witness a considerable jump in preference for plant-based varieties such as ready-to-eat meats, dips, sauces, and alternatives for eggs, besides inclination for allulose as a sugar replacement.

Knowing the limits when it comes to drinks

As more people are either abstaining or choosing alcohol-free beverages, there is an inclination towards a trend that could be referred to as mindful drinking. As more and more people get aware of personal health and wellness, there is a shift in preferring non-alcoholic drinks when socializing.

It won’t be an overstatement to say that the Gen-Z is making a move towards responsible drinking with a large number of individuals from this particular age bracket agreeing that they do not consume alcohol often or at all when dining out due to health reasons. Other products are taking up market share, like cannabis and spiked products such as hard kombucha and packaged tea enhanced with beer-strength alcohol. Michael Whiteman, President of Baum + Whiteman predicts that more than 50% of the people who opt for low-alcohol drinks will prefer to alternate with full-strength ones.

Food preference with a concern for the environment

Apart from good taste, a consumer today is expecting more from the foods they consume. With issues like sustainability and environmental concerns being in the news, people are increasingly shifting towards a trend that pertains to being conscious of nature around and its impact on food production.

Food items that have been produced while adopting environment-friendly practices such as zero waste, reduced carbon footprints, and water conservation practices continue to draw more attention. While still in its nascent stage as a trend, more people are concerned and aware about the food that they consume and its direct impact on the environment at large. As environmental consciousness rises, the trend is likely to witness a jump in the future as well.

Inclination towards convenience foods to continue

The pandemic-induced lockdowns resulted in people spending a lot of time at home and this has had a long-term effect on a few individuals in terms of their eating habits. A large section of individuals who cooked with liberal help of convenience foods while following set meal routines more often due to the pandemic plan to continue with these habits. This has resulted in people reaching out for time-saving products and grab-and-go snacks. 53% of consumers in the U.S. who cooked using convenience foods and followed set meals routines because of the pandemic intend to continue these practices.

As an extension to this, more people are expected to opt for food items with quality ingredients and chef-inspired frozen meals, meal kits, home delivery meals, and refrigerated appetizers and entrees that can be prepared quickly at home or away from home.

Frozen Foods will continue to grow

Though frozen foods were perceived as poor quality and unhealthy in the past, they remain strong and continue to grow today. In addition to filling refrigerators at home, frozen foods are now gradually proliferating in restaurants, and new frozen menu items are available. Martha Stewart launched a new frozen food range.

According to the American Frozen Food Institute, 72% percent of frozen food consumers combine frozen and fresh ingredients. Statista notes that frozen pizza sales in the United States have been rising steadily, up from $4.98 billion in 2019 to $5.47 billion in 2020 and its growth will continue in 2022.

Reaching out for grains

Considering that people are more on the lookout for healthy food options, there is an inclination to reach out for grains that are power-packed with wholesomeness and affordability. For example, oats are one such preferred food item. And with food innovation, it is finding a place in newer food items apart from biscuits. KeHE forecasts that barley, hemp, pistachios, and buckwheat will become major grain and seed alternatives over the coming years.

When it comes to food and beverages trends, apart from a consumer’s taste and preference, other macroeconomic factors have a direct impact on it. For instance, inflation or rising food prices and supply chain shortages lead to a considerable impact on consumer behavior. The world has never been the same again when it comes to preferences for food and beverages and in all likelihood, the trends are very well likely to continue in 2022 as well.

Ending Note

Trends are important but if you want to truly future-proof your business, you need to focus on making your restaurant business accessible to all through various digital ordering channels. The upcoming year 2022 promises to look different and more sustainable, but only if you can deliver a seamless phygital experience to your customers as well as the staff.

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