Food Trends - 2022


2022's food trends will be mostly "shaped by the needs of people working from home and by the culinarily-astute-but-fickle Gen Z (1997-2012), whose members want food with sustainable ingredients and a strong cultural back story, prepared without exploitation and delivered in a carbon-neutral way — within 30 minutes." according to Kim Severson, The NYT food guru (New York Times, 12-28-21).

COVID 19 - Consumers Are Tired

Life now involves a complex calculus of COVID transmission rates, local dining regulations, weather forecasts and if it’ll be comfortable to eat outside, whether seating capacity has been restricted and if the last software update accidentally wiped the picture of your mobile vaccination card. 

Kim Severson: "With the supply chain in tatters and restaurant staffs stretched nearly to the breaking point, demanding shoppers and diners are out, and patience is in. A growing interest in the historical and cultural nature of food and its impact on the climate will only add to what forecasters (optimistically) say will be a new emphasis on kindness and understanding."

After nearly two years of dealing with a global pandemic, consumers are tired. Tired of making food, tired of meal planning, tired of cleaning up messes, tired of eating the same thing…just generally tired of food. Going out or cooking in are losing their attractiveness. Enter the resurgence of meal kits, more sophisticated and better tasting ready-made meals from a variety of outlets and food subscription boxes.

Inflation and Supply Chain Disruptions 

Upward pressure on global food prices, fueled by a perfect storm of unpredictable weather, rising consumer inflation, and an energy and labor crisis, is unlikely to let up anytime soon, says Dutch bank Rabobank—even with prices already sitting at 10-year highs. “We certainly don’t expect prices to go back to five- or 10-year averages,” said Carlos Mera, head of agri commodities market research at Rabobank. That’s partly due to a “floor” on global price rises: With fertilizer and other input costs increasing, farmers’ costs, too, are climbing. Meanwhile, increased hedging and building stocks to cushion the impact of now-familiar supply shocks is also pushing up demand. (Fortune, 11-30-21)

Inflation and supply chains are going to continue to be shockingly unpredictable and volatile. 


Functional ingredients, immune-boosting, clean living: these trends have all enjoyed a long, sustained climb over the past couple of years and shaped innovation in the food industry.

Shoppers used to look to food and beverage offerings for hydration or sustenance, but increasingly they are turning to them as a way to improve their mood, gain a boost in energy, provide nutritional benefits or improve their gut health. The shift is especially prevalent in younger Gen Z and millennial consumers. While ingredients such as adaptogens, probiotics and nootropics aren’t necessarily new, the way they’re being incorporated into food and beverages is changing - from a narrow range of foods or beverages to a ever-increasing set of enhanced foods and drink.

2022's Highlighed New Foods and Flavors

Plant-Based and Cell-Grown Meats: Several plant-based meat companies have been rolling out new technology and perfecting high-moisture extrusion to make more meat-like plant-based items in forms similar to tenders or whole cuts. Plant-based companies are also experimenting with cultured fats to make a plant-based sausage with actual animal fat grown from cells. Meats grown from cells in the laboratory are expected to get their first regulatory approvals this year. Grass fed meats time as a climate change solution has yet to come despite compelling evidence of its efficacy. 

Mushrooms: Consumers are looking for a meaty umami flavor without the meaty calorie load. Many experts think this is the breakout year for mushrooms as the truly plant-based replacement for meat.

Functional ingredients, immune-boosting, clean living: These trends have all enjoyed a long, sustained climb over the past couple of years and shaped innovation in the food industry.

Citrus flavors and ingredients: These will piggyback on the interest in the fruits' immune-boosting potential, and include Calamansi lime, blood orange, yuzu, kumquat and tangerine as trending flavors. Hibiscus is trending up as well. CBD will also attract more product developers as brands promote the ingredient's potential to enhance focus and relaxation.

Ginger: Ginger's health benefits help, but consumers are now tending to favor the spicy and sweet flavor that can replace adding other sweetness to dishes.

Collard Greens: Something had to replace kale.

Different types of "hot" : More of us realize the nuanced flavors that come alongside the burn and that hot sauces don’t always have to be red. 

Kelp:  grows fast, has a stand-up nutritional profile and removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and nitrogen from the ocean. As a result, farmed kelp will move beyond dashi and into everyday foods like pasta and salsa.

Potato Milk: Who needs coconut milk when there’s potato milk. Made from mixing boiled potatoes with the water they’re cooked in, apparently it’s pretty good, especially with the addition of its several other ingredients, including pea protein. DUG is a ‘potato-based’ milk available now in some European and Chinese locales. DUG claims that it is 56 times more water-efficient than almonds, requires only half as much land as oats, and is free from the 14 most common allergens. Seems there is no limit to what you can make milk from - except the cow.


Fusions: "Swicy" and "Swalty" will be added to culinary lexicon, sadly, reflecting a continued drift to fused culinary foods. In this case, sweet is added to spicy or salty sauces. The food supply shortages is also contributing to new fusions as a shortage of one ingredient leads to use of a new one and, voila,  a new dish is born. 

Branded Produce: 68% of shoppers will pay more for produce that is branded over private label or unbranded options. Brand becomes more prevalent by generation, with two-thirds of millennials and Gen Zers considering it important that the fresh produce they buy is branded, compared to less than half of Gen X and baby boomers.

Molecular Farming: Like many of the technologies that are driving innovation in the alternative protein space, plant molecular farming has traditionally been used in the pharmaceutical industry. The practice — which involves genetically editing a crop so that its cells produce a desired protein — is being discussed as a way to rapidly produce proteins for COVID-19 vaccines.

In the food industry, molecular farming is one route to producing the animal proteins that give egg, dairy, and meat products their visual, taste, and functional properties. Molecular farming allows you to use the exact same protein that would normally be produced by a chicken or cow, without the need for any actual animals. Just saying...

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