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Which food trends will be most in demand in 2022? We ask the experts.
Hungry for more? Discover the 10 products predicted to fly off the shelf this year.
Retailers take note: the flexitarian movement is going strong. In Whole Foods Market’s latest Trends Council report, ‘reducetarianism’ was dubbed a top trend to watch for 2022, perfect for “plant-curious eaters” who aren’t ready to give up meat entirely. The plant-based food sector is certainly growing – online food platform ShelfNow said between 2020 and 2021 sales of vegetarian food products increased by 156% and vegan product sales jumped 150% and products like dairy and meat alternatives are a growing market.
But according to Whole Foods, the flip side of the flexitarian diet means that the highest quality meat, dairy and eggs are also in demand. This is because consumers are more aware of animal wellness and environmental concerns, so they’re focusing on quality over quantity. Waitrose’s 2022 Food & Drink Report found that nearly 70% of surveyed customers said the carbon footprint of their food was important.
The home working boom caused a shift in consumers’ grocery buying habits – and with many still yet to return full-time to the office, cutting out the commute means more consumers have time for a leisurely breakfast. In fact, during the first lockdown, one survey found that Brits ate eggs for breakfast 68% more times than in the previous year, while bacon sales were up 21% and pastries were up 25%, according to Waitrose.
Versatile mushrooms are not brand new to the superfood category, but their cult-like status is reaching the masses today. Not only is the consumption of ordinary mushrooms on the rise, but they’re being found in more and more unexpected places, from mushroom powder adding punchy flavour to alternative meats to varieties like Lion’s Mane adding functional benefits to beverages.
Convenient, cost-effective and tasty – there’s nothing not to love about the premium pre-batched bottled cocktails on the market today. Whether sold in ready-to-drink cans or in larger bottles that consumers can return to for an evening tipple, pre-mixed cocktails have shed their less than sparkling reputation as speciality drink industry brands revamp the category to ride the wave of premiumisation in drinks. Waitrose expects pre-batched bottled cocktails to be one of the top future trends in food and drink.
The novelty of retro foods has not worn off on British consumers, who are still returning to nostalgic recipes for a dose of comfort food. Younger generations are getting involved too, with one video of a school-dinner-style traybake receiving more than 100,000 views on TikTok. On Waitrose’s website, searches of knickerbocker glory were up 171%, the retailer said.
Dishes inspired by foreign countries have flourished in Britain since the pandemic hit, and experts have tracked a particular interest in Japanese flavours in the build-up to and following the Tokyo Olympics. At Waitrose, sales of the retailer’s own-brand Umami Paste were up 17% compared with 2019, while sushi sales saw a 54% increase. Consumers were also keen to try their hand at creating their own sushi, with 2021 sales of sushi mats up 57% and nori sales up 56% compared to the same period in 2020.
Whole Foods’ experts also noted that yuzu, a citrus from Japan, Korea and China, is being found in a growing number of products, from vinaigrettes to hard seltzers to mayos and more. In 2022, they predict it will shine even brighter.
Consumers are also inspired by the food of the Levant, which comprises a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean. Searches for Levantine on Waitrose’s website rose by more than 2,500%, the retailer said, with products like pomegranate molasses, Turkish Urfa chilli flakes and Feta parcels flying off the shelves.
The CBD market has seen an explosion of interest in recent years, thanks to the growing demand for healthy foods and CBD’s claimed benefits for mental health and wellness. Increasingly, however, CBD products are moving away from the health food shops and into drinks and food products, so it is certainly an area worth exploring for fine food retailers. ShelfNow has noted that alongside a growing interest for CBD, products like Cannasa, a premium CBD-infused drink, are increasingly in demand.
Could potato milk be the next big thing to disrupt the vegan milk alternatives sector? The innovative brand DUG has caught the eye of experts, from Waitrose’s buyers to food consultant Heather Morris of SHFoodie, who are excited by its sustainable credentials as well as its creamy flavour. With alternative-milks like oat milk and almond milk continuing to penetrate the diary market, there is good reason to believe the hype that plant-based milk will continue to grow in popularity.
From traditional spices like garam masala and cardamom to South East Asian flavours like gochujang or American-style barbecue rubs, Waitrose says Brits are showing a growing interest in adding a pop of flavour to their dishes. In fact, sales of herbs and spices at the retailer are up 41% this year after a strong 2020. Top performers in this category include Middle Eastern spices, tying in with the trend for Levantine food, and speciality salts.
This article was originally published in November 2021.