Guest post written by: Beth Keeton
Every year, there are hundreds of food trends published from supermarkets, major consumer publications, and celebrity chefs. As you consider content for 2022, we've narrowed it down to the top five food trends we anticipate will resonate most with consumers, given engagement on social media, restaurant menu items, and industry innovation.
1. Sober Libations & Functional Bubbles
In 2021, several celebrities spoke out about sobriety including Dax Shephard, Miley Cyrus, and Chrissy Teigen. “Dry January” was notably one of the most trending hashtags in 2021 and is predicted to be longer-lasting this year. As a path to a healthier lifestyle in 2022, many people will be looking for mocktails and non-alcoholic beverages that feel social and fun sans the booze. Thankfully fresh produce, floral, and good-for-you foods have a great opportunity to lean into this trend with the use of juices, kombucha, sparkling waters, and fresh produce or floral for flavor and garnish. Speaking of kombucha, "functional bubbles" is a trend that has been swirling for the last couple of years and isn't going anywhere. If you don't currently have a kombucha mocktail in your recipe library, now is the time to capitalize!
2. Plant-based Everything
This should come as no surprise, but plant-based items continue to grow in popularity, especially with some of the incredible products we’ve seen introduced over the last few years. Brands like Impossible Foods, Good Foods, and RightRice have shattered the perception that plant-based products "don’t taste as good," which is paving the way for major consumer intrigue and acceptance of plant-based foods. Forbes recently shared that "foodies are getting with the times and taking vegan fare seriously, it’s inevitable that we’ll see more culinary talent trying their hands at fancy plant-based cuisine." We hope this makes your ears perk up because that means more innovation opportunities than ever before for our industry!
TikTok is also upping the DIY plant-based foods game thanks to popular cooking tools like the Air Fryer and Instant Pot. And it's not just your typical "influencers" on social platforms who are driving DIY plant-based trends. It's the lady who lives down the street from you or the college guy who's experimenting with what's left in the fridge. This snippet from Good Morning America's coverage of the newest TikTok trend "Carrot Bacon" uses fresh carrots, some seasoning, and an Air Fryer to create a plant-based version of the classic comfort food. Getting in front of these food hacks could mean significant public relations and social media opportunities for your brand.
Alternative milks (like newest sensation Potato Milk), meats, and dips continue to reign supreme in the plant-based category, but consider possibilities with sweet snacks, chips, sauces, and frozen foods in 2022 as well. Product innovation is more important than ever as a fresh produce brand when it comes to plant-based offerings.
3. Flexitarian Meals
Thanks to Dawn Jackson Blatner, media dietitian and author of The Flexitarian Diet & Superfood Swap, we’ve been hearing about the Flexitarian Diet for a few years now. This diet limits animal protein and focuses on plant-based proteins, fresh produce, and healthy fats. However, animal proteins can still be eaten in moderation, unlike Vegan and Vegetarian diets. It's anticipated that, while plant-based options will need to be more readily available, people will more likely lean into a Flexitarian routine instead of adopting a fully Vegan or Vegetarian diet.
So, how do we create content that appeals to plant-based options from trend #2 while also allowing for a more Flexitarian menu? Simple - just make sure that you have plant-based options as part of your recipe library to accommodate for the rising need for plant-based recipes. You might also consider creating some recipes with Flexitarians in mind where there are animal proteins included but not as the majority of the plate.
4. Global Fusions
Specific flavors we can expect to see more popularity in recipes include Yuzu, Turmeric, and Hibiscus according to Whole Foods’ Trends Council. While we may not see whole fruits from Japan like Yuzu show up in the fresh produce section, it’s expected that juices and flavor-infused products with Yuzu will continue to grow in popularity.
According to Pinterest statistics in December, the following organic searches are up significantly and should be considered when planning recipes this year:
- Norwegian recipes traditional +120%
- Filipino recipes authentic +35%
- Traditional Russian food +3x
- South African recipes traditional +150%
- Arabic food traditional +2x
Something even more interesting to note is that restaurants are taking more creative liberties with food to make dining out a new and unique experience for patrons, specifically for Millennials and Gen Z who are looking for global flavors. A snippet from Better Homes & Gardens’ Food Trends reports:
"The term 'fusion cuisine' historically carried negative connotations. However, as the country grows increasingly more diverse—nearly half of Gen Z identifies as non-Caucasian—the concept of 'authenticity' as it relates to food has changed. As a result, we're seeing a wave of new multi-ethnic, "borderless" cuisines that embrace one person's unique identity, mixed-race parents, or reflect the diverse cultural influences of a given region. Restaurant examples include:
- La Chinesca in Philadelphia, which marries global influences from Northern Mexico's Baja region with Chinese American flavors
- Kimika in New York City, which blends Japanese and Italian cuisines in dishes like crispy rice cake lasagna with sweet Italian sausage, spicy cabbage, scallions, and provolone
- Armitage Alehouse in Chicago, which features British pub fare (steak and ale pot pie, fish and chips) alongside Indian favorites (aloo chana, garlic naan), as well as American classics (dry-aged New York strip steak, chopped wedge salad)”
5. Food for Mental Health
Just like people choosing to step away from alcohol this year for mental health reasons, people are looking to food to support healthy brain function to actively fight against depression and anxiety and proactively fight against Alzheimer's and dementia. If you aren't currently working with dietitians, now is the time to tap into their expertise in order to communicate your products' health benefits clearly and effectively.
Back in 2016, our friend Dr. Drew Ramsey spoke at the Viva Fresh Convention about this very topic. As the author of Eat Complete and Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety, Dr. Ramsey has been an advocate in the mental health space for over a decade showing the link between our food and brain development. This year, especially, people will be paying more attention to how fresh foods help us feel better physically and mentally. Take a look at Dr. Ramsey's Instagram page to see how he communicates the link between mental health and food, as we anticipate terms like "eating for better brain function" and "foods that naturally boost your mood" will increase in popularity significantly.
There are dozens of other food trends we agree will gain traction in 2022, all of which you can find with a simple Google search for "2022 Food Trends," but these five stand out as some of the most important for our industry to capitalize on when considering partnerships with influencers and chefs or creating unique content. The great news about these and so many other food trends we've seen is that fresh produce, floral, and good-for-you foods are taking center stage on the plate!
Needing some help staying on top of all of these trends? Give us a call - we'd be happy to chat!