As 2021 starts to wind down, it’s time to look ahead at what 2022 might have in store for the food and beverage industries.
Spoonshot, a food and beverage market intelligence firm, recently published its 2022 trends report, one of the first of what are sure to be many new year forecasts. Spoonshot’s researchers break down the expected 2022 trends into a few different categories, starting with:
Consumers had been increasingly turning to healthier food and beverage options even before the pandemic reinforced the importance of self-care. Spoonshot reports that interest in health jumped 30% in consumer media and 29% in business media in 2020. That renewed interest should continue into the new year – and beyond.
As the pandemic surged, early research suggested immunity boosters, such as Vitamin C and zinc, might help dampen the effects of the virus. As a result, the industry responded with several product launches that married the two ingredients.
Manufacturers will almost certainly pursue other food synergy offerings to address other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, among others.
Examples of potential food synergies include broccoli and tomato, cocoa bean and raspberry, and black pepper and turmeric.
Gut health has emerged as another area of concern among consumers. As ongoing research continues to illustrate the importance of a healthy gut microbiome in overall health, online interest in prebiotics and probiotics surged 65% in 2020. And, again, COVID has been a driving factor since the data shows that healthy guts help keep lungs healthy and immune systems strong.
This presents a great opportunity for food and beverage companies that want to target this growing interest with functional new products.
The pandemic hit the food service industry particularly hard over the past two years. The pandemic closed more than 110,000 businesses and forced millions out of work. And even as vaccinations and lifted lockdown orders encouraged consumers back to restaurants and bars, food service operators struggled with lingering supply chain issues and labor shortages.
The road to recovery will be long and require hard choices and more than a little innovation.
According to Spoonshot, one way food service operators can help themselves – and their customers – is by “incorporating dishes with ingredients and flavors that can be appreciated by people suffering from diminished or lost sense of taste or smell.”
Examples to improve dishes include:
- Crunchy or crisp textures can help keep food in the mouth for longer, extending the taste experience.
- Umami flavors, which can increase saliva flow and boost the taste.
Additionally, experts predict that the popularity of curbside pickup and home delivery will persist and remain a viable revenue stream for food service operators.
Part of that success will hinge on the accelerated adoption of new technologies, such as AI and robotics, which can go beyond delivery and order fulfillment. Operators have begun rolling out robots to manage a variety of kitchen and service tasks.
The experts at Spoonshot expect to see an increased push toward automation in the food service sector.
“In the coming year, we will see a greater push for automation from the food sector, particularly in quick service outlets, where speed, quality, and consistency are important,” the report explains. “There is scope for automation across the board to cut down tedious and repetitive tasks, like food prep, so that restaurants can focus on more value-added services, like creating new dishes. It can also help with changing menus more often.”
Sustainability continues to be a big draw – especially for younger consumers. The most obvious solution to this has been the advent of lab-grown products, whether it’s meat, milk, or even coffee.
This trend has also accelerated the growth of plant-based products beyond proteins, where grains have emerged as the next big source of future dairy products, led by the exploding popularity of oat milk.
Rounding out this trifecta of trends stemming from sustainability concerns is the industry's move toward upcycling.
“Over the next year, upcycling is going to move from niche food and drink launches and break out into the mainstream with greater specifics on the derived ingredients and their uses not just in food but also in non-food categories,” Spoonshot’s report explains. “We’ll even likely start to see new claims on-pack aimed at promoting the use of upcycled ingredients and reducing food waste.”
For nearly a decade, TraceGains has been getting together with industry stakeholders to share industry trends and success strategies. This year was no different. We’re gathered our largest group of regulators, industry insiders, retailers, and suppliers for two days of online education and collaboration. To see any session you might have missed, check out NEXT on-demand here.