We’ve talked a lot in our recent blogs about how the pandemic has affected not just the way we shop and dine, but the way we choose to eat, and importantly, what we eat. From costs and sustainability, to seeking out ways to support our immune health, we’re all thinking differently and if we are what we eat, then food is a great reflection of consumer consciousness in general.
With that in mind, we’re commencing our (now) annual roundup of food trends we think you’ll be seeing a lot more of in 2022.
As well as focusing on our health, the slower pace of the last year and half showed us how much of an impact our way of living has on the planet. When we stopped travelling as much, air quality improved, flora and fauna reacted to our absence with abundance, so we all saw pretty plainly that when we slow down or step back, or even change things a little, a lot can happen.
Consumers have been focused on environmental impact for a long time, so it’s no surprise it’s one of the top trends across the board – no matter what your industry. However, the continued rise in plant-based food keeps a light firmly on the link between food production, especially meat processing, and the environment.
So what does this mean for the food industry? Well, you can expect a focus on small footprint farm to plate, locally sourced food trends which peaked during the pandemic are likely to remain, the passion we’ve developed for flexitarianism is here to stay and of course, more and more people will likely explore vegetarianism and veganism as we start another new year thanks the growing popularity of Veganuary.
In a practical sense, brands need to be looking at packaging, if it’s recyclable, of course avoiding single-use plastic where possible and considering ingredients that they can be transparent about (how they’re farmed/manufactured, transported etc). With this though comes another challenge – this approach to sustainability is no longer a tentative nod to ‘doing the right thing’, progress is expected now and the world is watching, so greenwashing or virtue signalling are out. These are the practices of doing the bare minimum (or nothing) with the expectation of reaping the recognition for action relating to doing good.
Diverse ingredients – expanding our horizons
About 75% of the world’s food comes from just 12 plants and five animal species and more than half of the world’s plant-based nutrition comes from just three crops: corn, wheat and rice – as taken from WGSN’s Big Ideas report.
As we turn to increased sustainability, we can also seek to expand this range of ‘go-to’ ingredients, selecting more diverse options that deliver the same taste and enjoyment. It will be a similar process to that of the expansion of milk alternatives, we moved from soy to almond and now oat is reigning supreme – these grain choices and meat alternatives that can be grown with relative ease will open doors to what could not only be diets healthier for the planet for us too!
Grains are a crucial staple, so it makes sense for us to broaden our horizons and start to explore how many more we can use in our everyday lives.
Immunity support and gut health
This is not new either, but the pandemic has brought on a whole new focus on the importance of supporting our immune systems and heightened the understanding that this starts in the gut. We know this, but the more we learn, the more we realise it is not just healthy foods, but specific and careful combinations that can best serve our immune system. By this we mean the interactions between certain ingredients that can boost efficacy, such as combining turmeric and black pepper. It’s coming to light that utilising pepper with turmeric is a winning combination and their active ingredients work together to have greater impact; the results of which can be relief from nausea, an aid for digestion, acting as an anti-inflammatory and bringing anti-fungal properties.
These are some of the big ones, the things that have propensity to make huge impacts to how we think and eat, but some other trends we may see more of include:
- Rise of the home barista – more and more of us have upgraded our home coffee capabilities since we started working from home.
- Treats – sweet treats are getting more and more creative and our obsession with wacky donuts, crazy shakes and huge puds isn’t going anywhere!
- Home dining and eating al fresco – it’s safer (while COVID lingers) and in the case of eating outside, conjures a holiday feel, so all that investment restaurants made in outdoor spaces is likely to stay. Nothing that can’t be tackled with a bit of shelter, some lights and a heater!
There you have it, some of the food trends to be aware of for 2022 – 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.
Explore our range of businesses in The Billington Group’s Food division and get in touch to start your food innovation journey today.
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