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The rise of Korean food has been no secret thanks to the success of the popular Netflix show Squid Game. “This success caused a surge in the popularity of Korean cooking, with many social media users partaking in Korean food trends such as Dalgona, also known as sugar candy,” explained Jyoti Patel, founder of FeastBox and Red Rickshaw. Red Rickshaw’s Gochujang paste – a Korean hot red pepper paste – has seen a significant rise in popularity. “Gochujang paste, often known as ‘Korean ketchup’, has been a central element of authentic Korean cuisine for years,” Jyoti said.
“Personally, I like to use this delicious paste to spice up everything from classic Korean recipes and stir-fries to anything else that needs a quick burst of heat and sweetness – it’s really versatile with so much cooking potential. Made from fresh and high-quality ingredients, delivering a rich flavour and distinctive aroma to dishes, Gochujang paste is predicted to take the UK by storm next year,” she said.
If you’ve been considering stocking bulk rice, nuts or other dry goods which consumers can pick and mix with their own reusable containers, this may be the year to finally dive in. Paul Hargreaves, CEO of fine food distributor Cotswold Fayre, predicts that more and more consumers will be looking to choose refill products to reduce their reliance on plastic packaging.
“There is no doubt that sustainability has become much more than a rather vague buzz word, particularly over the past couple of years,” Paul said. “And if retailers aren’t evidently demonstrating what they are doing to protect our planet, then consumers will vote with their feet. I think that retailers will look to up their ante over the next 12 months to become more environmentally sound.”
Veganuary is in full swing now, but what will happen to sales of plant-based products when the month is over? Experts predict they’re still headed up. “All products that enable a reducetarianism or omnivore diet will continue to do well,” Paul said. In December, data from Kantar revealed that chilled vegetarian ranges increased sales by 6% while their frozen equivalents rose by 4%.
Jason Bull, director of Eurostar Commodities also named it as one of the brand’s top 10 food trend predictions for 2022. “Recent research (by Quorn) showed that 41% British families were now flexitarian,” he said. “Separately, peer reviewed data published in the Lancet shows an absolute decline in red meat consumption per person in the UK. Daily consumption overall is down 13.7g, with a further 7.0g down on processed meats. So, we are already eating less meat of a higher quality. Expect to see more of this during 2022.”
Paul said vegan cooking and baking ingredients will be one to watch. “As consumers eat less meat and milk-based products, they will become more curious about and confident in plant-based products and more adventurous in their baking and cooking,” he said. “Lab grown meat is here but remains very expensive. I believe that the price will need to come down before this becomes mainstream.”
Consumers are still favouring their pizzas, but they’ll be moving beyond margherita and pepperoni this year, according to Eurostar Commodities. “New varieties of pizza flours for different final products will start to come to the fore with the continued growth and demand for pizza in the UK.” The brand predicts flours like Pinsa Romana, to produce a typical roman-style pizza, will make an appearance, as well as innovations like prebiotic and probiotic bases.
As taste buds move further afield, Brits will continue to be introduced to best-of-class ingredients from abroad, and Jyoti predicts Alphonso mangoes will fit the trend. “Best known for its bright colour, creaminess, sweetness and juicy texture, the Alphonso mango is often referred to as ‘the king of fruits’ in India. Originating from Maharashtra in Northern India, experts have been growing the widely celebrated Indian mango for millennia. In fact, there are numerous varieties of the Alphonso mango, each bringing something unique to their native region,” she said.
“However, Alphonso mangos enjoy only a brief season from April until June, so they’ll need to be purchased during this limited time frame,” Jyoti advised. “Indeed, Alphonso Mangoes weren’t selected for their high yield or ability to withstand harsh weather, but instead for their unbeatable taste.”
Self-treating became one of the biggest trends of the pandemic for fine food retailers, and as Covid uncertainty continues, indulgence will persevere. “When times are tough, people seek small luxuries such as confectionery, patisserie and chocolate products, acting as comforting treats at home,” said Cotswold Fayre’s Paul.
Kantar’s data revealed that premium own-label sales broke records over Christmas, with shoppers spending £627m on supermarkets’ own upmarket lines in the four weeks to 26th December, up 6.8% from 2020, as demand for quality treats grows despite inflation.
Preserved lemons are traditionally used in Middle Eastern tagines and other North African stews, but in recent years they’ve become more readily available in the UK. “Hence, people in the UK are beginning to uncover the flavour and excitement the preserved lemon can bring to everyday cooking,” Jyoti said.
“Lemons, preserved whole in a brine of salt and water, are best known for their ability to bring a subtle yet distinctive citrus flavour to every dish. The preserving process means that whilst the lemons lose some of their sharpness, their flavour significantly intensifies,” she told Speciality Food. “Preserved lemons can be best incorporated into a meal when cut in half and roasted with potatoes, meat, vegetables. Additionally, you can use them as part of a homemade stuffing or mixed with yoghurt to produce a delicious tahini.”
“There is a heightened awareness surrounding health, and the role that food and drink can play when looking for ways to develop a healthier physical and mental lifestyle,” said Paul. “I expect that products that help gut health, anxiety or sleep will do well in 2022. CBD or adaptogens such as magnesium and zinc that are understood to help bodies improve their natural resistance to stress will also do well.”
Eurostar Commodities’ Jason agreed that CBD will have another big year in 2022, reaching more mainstream shoppers. “The CBD market exploded in 2021 with a pandemic-weary audience going crazy for the medicinal benefits of CBD. There are many claimed benefits ranging from pain relief to general wellness. In 2022 we will see more innovation in food and drink products containing CBD hitting the shelves in health food shops and pharmacies. The big question is whether we see them hit retail and convenience,” he said.
Garden eggs form part of the aubergine family, and are a small white fruit most commonly found in parts of Africa – and Jyoti expects the growing health trend to give this product a boost here in the UK. “This produce holds many great health benefits and is packed full of nutrients, including potassium, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6. These can help to raise energy levels and support the health functioning of the nervous system.
“With plant-based diets on the rise, the classic aubergine has grown in popularity as an easy, filling substitute for meat in dishes, as the mild flavour acts as a vessel for other intense flavours,” she continued. “Garden eggs similarly are valued for their bitterness, and will play a huge role as a meat replacement by many who opt for vegetarian and vegan diets this year.”
According to Mandy Saven, director of consumer lifestyle at trends intelligence experts Stylus, “multi-talented mushrooms are THE ingredient to watch for 2022. They’re mainstreaming quickly as adaptogens, but we will see them in all sorts of formats as the year progresses,” she said.
The Netflix documentary Fantastic Fungi has helped cast the humble ingredient in a new light, Jason added. “They certainly deserve their status as a superfood, and their developing cult status is reaching everywhere,” he said. “As well as eating the humble mushroom itself, look out for products that use mushroom as a flavouring, or ingredient to add flavour, depth and a natural kick. Mushroom powder is being used increasingly with benefits including immune-boosting, aiding sleep and improving digestion.”