Back to the Future – Why Nostalgic Foods Will Be Big in 2022

We know that food is an important part of our lives and has an integral role to play in community and culture, but it’s also a reflection of how we feel, what we crave and what matters to us. During the pandemic, we’ve seen trends ebb and flow as we’ve navigated our way through challenging times; and while how we shop and interact online can be some of the more crucial markers of consumer consciousness, how we eat is another. 

We saw, while travel was restricted, a huge uptick in international cuisines, Asian food being a huge hit in particular. With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at what we think might sweep the nation in the coming months and top of the list is nostalgia. 

While on one hand, we’re seeing a rise in health and nutrient-focused cooking, the trials and tribulations of the last two years are making many of us want to turn back time and seek out the warm familiarity of our favourite retro dishes. 

Comfort Food

Times of unrest are when we seek out things we love, including those recipes and meals that bring us a sense of home or comfort, and remind us of better, simpler times! We saw some throwbacks in the special festive ranges of many major retailers; think prawn cocktails, huge meat centrepieces and even a return of the retro tin-foil hanging decorations. As a nation, we are determined to bring back our fondest foodie memories and our menus are likely to reflect that. 

This is a deep-rooted mechanism for coping with change, it provides a sense of calm and stability in another wise hectic world. 

Digging out family recipes is a sure-fire way to feel connected if we’re apart and things like classic desserts, stodgy carbs like mac and cheese and stews with dumplings, roasts and more are cropping up on delivery services, pub menus and social media to bring us some joy. 

TikTok is playing a huge role in food trends, and one pots and tray bakes are proving hugely popular on the platform, which has the ability to sell out ingredients like no other – see last year’s feta pasta or toasted wrap trends! 

Retro flavours

It’s not just what we’re eating, the flavours of our favourites are being experimented with across the board, with some baking classics like cherry bakewell and lemon drizzle being found in cookies, alcohol, coffee syrups, teas and more. 

This provides a huge scope for the food and beverage market to tap into our cravings for comfort and meet consumer needs in a variety of ways, no matter what the product and no matter where we choose to consume it – staying home? No problem. Eating out? Ok!

These trends are cropping up everywhere and in some surprising products. Waitrose reported in its post-pandemic survey that searches for throwback favourite the Knickerbocker Glory were up 171%.

Other throwback quick fixes were also on the up with lots of favourites from the 70s, 80s and 90s making a comeback. Including custard powder and instant mash, sales of which were up 336% and 59%, respectively.

So, in short – we’re all seeking that cosy feeling that comes with retro flavours, foods from the past and the stuff we loved as kids. 

There you have it, some of the nostalgic foods we’ll see returning this year – but now what?

Adapting your offering to meet the changing needs of consumers as their tastes evolve, and tapping into new trends as they emerge, is key to staying at the forefront of the industry. From sourcing ingredients, to creating dishes that delight your customers, innovation is at the heart of what we do – see what our chefs can create for you and your customers, so they leave with full bellies, empty plates and big smiles. 

Nostalgia is set to stay for 2022, so if you need help putting a twist on an old favourite, speak to our team today and start your innovation journey today.