Most food industry trends reports are released to the public late November or early December. I reviewed three different food industry trends reports that were recently shared. I’m hoping this will help with your content inspiration and planning for 2022. It’s hard to believe but 2022 is just 50-some odd days away!
I reviewed these three reports, which are hyperlinked and referenced below:
- Whole Foods Market Trends Food Industry Report
- Spoonshot Food Industry Trends Report
- Baun + Whiteman Food Industry Trends Report
There were definitely some overlapping trends that kept bubbling to the top of all three reports. Trends like sustainability and health, gut health and functional foods, and the plant-forward movement were common threads. These trends focus around “the new normal.” Now some people may like this term, while other do not. I have to say, I’m indifferent.
We all have different views and opinions about the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we can all probably agree that the world we live in is not the same as it was before March 2020. The way we go about our day to day lives is different. It’s not right or wrong, just different. And the food industry trends reflect these changes we are making as consumers in our everyday lives. No surprise, right?
Sustainability Top of Mind
Shoppers continue to have sustainability and locality top of mind. They want to know that their food is being made responsibly. They want to know that ingredients are sourced sustainably. And they want to know that brands are supporting local farmers and small businesses, whenever possible. Consumers are looking to purchase local produce, dairy, and meats where they live.
There is also this zero-waste mentality that is beginning to take off. Not only is it important to recycle, but now folks are taking it a step further and trying to minimize what is even making it into their recycle bins.
In addition to consuming a nutritious diet, many Americans are now driving a responsible eating culture that includes the health of the planet, too. Health and sustainability go hand in hand for consumers, especially for the Gen Z segment.
2022 Food Industry Trends: Whole Foods Market
Last month, Whole Foods Market released their top 10 food predictions for 2022, according to their team of product experts.
- Ultraurban Farming
- Hype for Hibiscus
- Buzz-less Spirits
- Grains with a Purpose
- Sunflower Seeds
- Functional Fizz
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Producers are looking to find new and innovative ways to grow hyper-local crops in urban areas like New York City and other major cities in the U.S. Indoor farms, like rooftop greenhouses, utilize sunlight and 100% renewable electricity to power themselves. This gives them the ability to grow fresh herbs and salad greens that are sustainably-sourced and hyper-local.
This is a citrus fruit that is not very familiar in America. Yuzu is mainly grown in Japan, South Korea, and China, but it is becoming a popular trend here in the states. Yuzu is tart and sour, and shaped like a tangerine. You may notice this flavor being integrated or infused in things like vinaigrettes, hard seltzers, and even mayonnaise. Chefs are incorporating this ingredient into vegetable, fish, and noodle dishes on the menu because of its lime-lemon-grapefruit accent flavor.
This term is about reducing your consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs without eliminating these foods completely. Restaurants will be featuring more menu items that contain grass-fed meats and pasture-raised eggs. When opting for animal-based menu options, reducetarians want to make sure they are consuming dishes with premium ingredients. These premium ingredients make them feel good about their menu selection and its impact on the environment.
Hype for Hibiscus
We typically see this ingredient infused into teas, however, companies are starting to apply its sweet and tart flavor profile to fruit spreads, like jams and jellies, as well as yogurts. Hibiscus has a beautiful pink hue which makes for a beautiful beverage option as well – with or without alcohol. Consumers will continue to primarily use hibiscus as a tea ingredient because of its vitamin C content, however, look to see hibiscus popping up in more non-traditional forms in 2022.
Buzz-less Spirits – Have you heard of the term “drysolation”? For millennials and Gen Z-ers, they are looking to reduce their alcohol consumption in the coming year. Retailers are creating a new lineup of drinks that create that same taste profile and elegance of cocktails but without the alcohol. Consumers will be experimenting with different ingredients in their mocktails, some traditional and some more culturally diverse.
Americans want fizzy beverages that not only taste delicious, but also deliver on functional benefits. This includes things like prebiotics, herbs, fruit, or vegetable-infusions, and more. Non-traditional ingredients are becoming more mainstream in this bubbly beverage category. Shoppers are looking for these fancy drinks to work double time by providing great taste and gut health benefits long after the can or bottle is empty.
Grains with a Purpose
There will be a shift on how grains support the environment in 2022. For example, addressing soil health when it comes to agricultural practices and farming processes that are in place to grow grains will be top of mind for consumers.
There is a grain called Kernza® that the report mentions which is a perennial grain developed by a company called The Land Institute. This grain has a sweet, nutty flavor and long roots, which helps with nutrient cycling and overall soil ecology. Kernza® can be found in some cereals and even some beers. Keep an eye out for this grain in 2022.
So, you might be scratching your head thinking, why are sunflowers seeds on food industry trends report for 2022. They have been around for a long time and are typically known for being a signature ballpark snack in American baseball stadiums for years and years. But hear me out. As they begin to revolutionize the 21st century snack game, sunflower seeds are being integrated into more items like cream cheeses, crackers, and yes, even ice creams.
The tiny little seeds pack a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition, delivering on protein and healthy, unsaturated fats. It’s also important to note that many (but not all) sunflower seed-based products are made without nuts, so they can be a great alternative snack that is allergy-friendly for school. You should still be sure to always check the label.
Have you heard of this “superfood”? It has been slowly making its way into American grocery stores over the past several years and presents an alternative option to matcha. Moringa is often called the “miracle tree.” The moringa leaves are nutrient-rich and help fight malnutrition in certain parts of the world, like India and Africa where this ingredient is typically used as an herbal remedy. It’s important to note that this tree is also drought-resistant and fast-growing.
Moringa can be found in powder form and is usually added to items like smoothies, sauces, or baked goods. In 2022, you can expect it to show up in products like frozen desserts, protein bars, and packaged grain blends, according to the Whole Foods Markets trends report.
Turmeric is a popular U.S. dietary supplement and is also known as “the golden spice.” It has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s no surprise that it has risen to the top of food industry trend lists for 2022 among Americans.
While we will continue to see turmeric used in golden milk lattes and capsule and powder-form supplements, this powerful spice is beginning to take off as an ingredient in packaged foods like cereals, sauerkrauts, and even some plant-based ice creams. Be on the lookout for turmeric-infused foods, as well as beverages for 2022.
2022 Food Industry Trends: Spoonshot
The second food industry trends report I reviewed was from a company called Spoonshot, which is an artificial intelligence-powered food and beverage insights platform.
As expected, this report found that sustainability and health are two trends that will be consistent into next year. Consumers are continuing to show great concern regarding these issues. They are looking for ways to provide solutions through the foods the purchase and consume. Within the topic of sustainability and health, Spoonshot took a closer look at the multiple layers that are trending within each of these areas.
- Food Synergies
- Gut-Lung Axis
- Lab to Fork
- Plant-Based Milks Go Grain-ular
- Growing Up-Cycling
Here’s some more information around each one:
This is the concept of how nutrients perform better together, rather than individually. For example, some nutrients can have higher bioavailability – and in turn, be better digested, absorbed, and metabolized – when combined with other nutrients than when consumed on their own. This trend is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once some studies were done to show that people with greater immunity were less likely to have severe side effects of the virus, everyone, and I mean everyone, was searching for ways to boost immunity. Consumers across the country, and the world, loaded up on Vitamin C and Zinc supplements, since learning that combining these two supplements together had more of a health benefit than just Vitamin C alone. Many “immunity claims” were made promoting these two nutrients on new products over the past year.
There is a growing interest among consumers to use food as medicine by consuming minimally processed foods and get the most nutrition from them in order to yield better health results. Over the next year, look for more “perfect pairings” as it relates to micronutrient consumption and overall health claims, not just immunity.
This year we saw a major push around the importance of gut health and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. This trend will most likely continue to pick up traction in 2022. This year, more research has been published around the connection between the gut microbiome and the lungs, which is being called the “gut-lung axis.” Once again, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this trend has gained traction because a healthy gut plays a role in our body’s immune response which can be vital in fighting off any infections in the lungs as well.
Lab to Fork
While this trend may be a bit ahead of its time for most consumers, myself included, I do think it’s worth mentioning as something to look out for in 2022, according to the Spoonshot trend predictions. The first ever lab-grown hamburger was served to a small, select group in London back in 2013. Now, less than a decade later, Singapore is the first country to allow the sale of lab-grown or cultured meat to the public. Lab-grown food may have started out with just meat, but it has grown over recent years to include things like dairy products, gelatin, collagen, honey, and coffee.
Again, while this trend may be a little ahead of its time for the everyday consumer, investors are pouring lots of money into growing and expanding upon lab-grown food options. More to come in 2022 and beyond…
Plant-Based Milks Go Grain-ular
Let’s face it, plant-based milk alternatives are not going anywhere anytime soon. Oat milk set the stage for the acceptance of using grain as an alternative option when it comes to real milk. Oat milk is perceived to have a better taste and a greater sustainability story when compared to almonds and most other nut milks, according to Spoonshot. While oat milk gained traction among consumers over recent years, other grains will be coming into play in 2022 and beyond, like barley, quinoa, and millet.
Specifically, a UK company recently launched the first barley-based milk alternative of its kind called Bright Barley. The company is touting health benefits like low-fat, a source of fiber, added calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin 12. As far as taste and its total nutrient package are concerned, we’ll have to see how “barley milk” stacks up when compared to real cow’s milk….
Back in 2020, Spoonshot predicted this trend would begin to see an uptick in the coming years; and they were right. There is now a formal definition to the term upcycling. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, to upcycle means to recycle (something) in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item. There is even an official upcycled certification program which is the only one of its kind to identify upcycled food ingredients and products internationally.
Companies continue to take a closer look at the byproducts of their manufacturing processes and identify ways to make them “consumable” in various forms aside from food to help cut down on their environmental footprint.
Spoonshot 2022 Food Industry Trends that make Honorable Mention:
- Garbanzo beans
- Olive oil health benefits
- Carob –a collagen supportive ingredient for vegans
- Global umami and sweet flavor mashups
- Climatarian Diet –this diet is intended to help combat climate change by including things like algae, seaweed, pulses, grains and legumes, invasive species of plants, fish, and insects.
2022 Food Industry Trends: Baum + Whiteman
The third, and final, food industry trends report that I reviewed was by Baum + Whiteman, an international food and restaurant consulting group. These trends are more reflective of the restaurant industry versus the consumer retail space, but I felt like they were still worth sharing because as we know, trends typically start in this space before making their way into the day to day lives of consumers (in some capacity).
- Robots in the Food Industry
- Plant-Based Chicken
- Chili Crunch
- Roots of Cultures and Cuisines
- Expansion of Ghost Kitchens
Robots in the Food Industry
Let’s take the first trend listed for example. Does anyone remember The Jetsons? This American animated sitcom highlighted a middle-class family of four – Jane, George, and their two kids, Elroy, and Judy – who live in a space town called Orbit City in the year 2062. You guys, we are not too far off from 2062…. are we all going to have a “Rosie the Robot” living with us? I mean, we already have Alexa and Siri with us. Just something to ponder…
As it relates to the food industry though, labor shortages and inadequate wages are a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is pushing employers into the age of robotization, whether they are ready for it or not.
Plant-Based Chicken Among Quick-Service Restaurant Chains
Testing continues for various chains like McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, and more to create the best tasting plant-based chicken products. Although there are many plant-based chicken sandwiches options available in the frozen aisles of grocery retailers, it appears that these avid quick-service restaurant customers may not take to this trend as quickly unless it tastes worth their while.
While there most likely will not be any national rollouts in 2022, you can expect to see many regional/local menu add-ons in your area as these chains experiment with new vegan options.
I’m not sure this one will ever make it in my kitchen, but there are many American consumers who love gastronomic pain when it comes to spicy ingredients. Chili crunch has also come to be known as chili crisp or chili “crack” which is made up of Szechuan chili flakes, fiery hot pepper flakes, fried garlic, fermented soybeans, sesame seeds, a pinch of sugar and sometime more-umami flavored like seaweed or dried mushrooms.
Chefs will be adding chili crunch to pizzas, dumplings, spaghetti alla Bolognese, mac-and-cheese, and even ice cream. New brands will be featuring this product on supermarket shelves next year, so be on the lookout if you enjoy fiery dishes.
Roots of Cultures and Cuisines
You can expect to see more mainstream media coverage on international cuisines like Afro-American cooking, Filipino cooking, and Thai, Korean, Indian, Haitian, and Brazilian. Also, the words “ethnic” and “exotic,” as they relate to food and culinary terms, may be purged from food experts and culinarians’ vocabulary. Terms like “Asian” or “Middle Eastern” will be replaced with more specific countries or regions that best represent that ingredient or dish.
Expansion of Ghost Kitchens
This one is no surprise. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans began ordering delivery for their meals. This also resulted in a ton of startup ghost kitchens receiving funding across the country. This trend also crosses over into the robotics trend in the food industry. With more ghost kitchens popping up everyone, there comes the need more for more workers. But as we know, there is quite the labor shortage these days with wages being down and working conditions among the pandemic being uncertain.
In their food industry trends report, Baum + Whiteman also featured key buzz words to look out for next year:
- Mexican brunches
- Pan-Asian smokehouse restaurants
- Boutique fruit vinegars
- Pot pies from upscale restaurants
- Multi-culti khachapuris
- Chili crunch/crisp/crack
- Salsa macha
- Ethnic breakfast sandwiches
- Tater tots smothers with truffle cheese fondue as a topping on pizza or a base for a breakfast bowl
- Espresso martinis
- Fusion ramen
- Extreme hummus variations
- Tiger nuts
- Pasta al gricia (carbonara without eggs)
A recap of some of the top food trends in 2022
Like with any trends reports, everything is a prediction. No one would have ever predicted the COVID-19 pandemic striking us in early 2020 or that it would have such devastating effects on the food industry, both directly and indirectly. Yet here we are. In this blog article, I reviewed three food industry trends reports which is just a droplet in a sea of trends reports that will slowly be released over the next couple of months. Take these trend predictions with a grain of salt but know that there will definitely be some commonalities that rise to the top among all of them. Best of luck in 2022 content planning!