Following on from last month’s blog, we bring you our next two food trends set to influence menus for 2022!
1. HEALTHY HABITS
In 2021, consumers became more health-conscious than ever before. Although this dipped towards the end of the year in favour of festive indulgence and celebration, 2022 will bring a renewed focus on wellbeing.
Research by Waitrose has shown that 60% of people reassessed their outlook on life during the pandemic. Half of everyone surveyed said they’re now more aware of their mental and physical health.
This translates into a newfound love of cooking which has evolved over time. Not only are we better cooks, but we’ve also discovered the therapeutic benefits of cooking. Time in the kitchen is seen not only as an opportunity to relax but as a way to maximise our meals to support health.
‘Functional food’ is a key term in 2022. We’re looking for products and dishes that support gut health, reduce stress and improve sleep. We’re upgrading the ingredients we use in order to make them functional, from mineral-rich salts to powdered supplements and even the types of tea we drink.
Demand for premium low and no alcohol drinks is also on the rise. Drinkers are looking to cut down for health reasons but want something more innovative than a regular soft drink to accompany their meal or social occasion. 18% of adults who drink intended to take a break in January 2022 (Alcohol Change). This trend provides an opportunity to upsell speciality mocktails and soft drinks throughout the year.
KEEP IT LIGHT
Dining out is often seen as a treat, a time to indulge in your favourite food and drink. But this means eating out can be avoided entirely when we’re trying to stay healthy. Google searches for ‘healthy food near me’ increased by 80% last year, showing demand is high. But research suggests consumers are still frustrated by the lack of healthy options on menus. Now is the perfect time to make the most of this opportunity.
Health should be seen as equally important as other dietary requirements. Someone counting their calories could be the decision-maker when choosing whether to eat out or cook at home. Transparency and a range of lighter options on your menus will attract customers looking for balance, whilst still feeling like they’ve had a treat.
Takeout menus are also key. 70% of people would be more likely to order from delivery apps if they had a wider variety of healthy options (Deliveroo). If you’re on Deliveroo or Just Eat, take a look at your competition. Could you give yourself the edge by upping your health game and including calorie counts?
2. ASIAN FLAVOURS & SPICY KICKS!
Our appetite for authentic global flavours has long been in the mainstream. However since Covid hit, and dining out was no longer an option, we’ve been learning how to bring these flavours into our meals at home. We have a newfound appreciation for our senses and want to elevate dishes with bigger, bolder flavours. Think sour, salt, spice and umami.
This is not surprising given the trend towards healthier lifestyles. In particular, Asian cuisines are seen as lighter and healthier but also as a great way to bring in pops of favour with the use of kimchi, slaw, oils and salts. Also seen as more adventurous and international, Asian outlets can offer a huge array of dishes, from traditional local dishes to exciting Japanese-European fusion mash-ups.
Flavour is key with this trend. It encompasses traditional spices from garam masala and cardamom to flavours like gochujang, BBQ rubs and hot sauces. Japanese foods, in particular, have seen growth over the last few years with sales of umami pastes up 17%, sushi mats up 57% and nori up 56% compared to the same period in 2020 (Waitrose).
Tik Tok and Instagram have given us new ways of discovering trends, 75% of 18 – 24-year-olds said they’ve used the platforms for food inspiration over the last year (Waitrose). It’s incredible how the power of these platforms can so suddenly influence our purchase decisions. Someone might upload a recipe video in Korea, and the next day it’s viral and customers in the UK are asking where to buy these ingredients.
One condiment that has reached cult status in the US, and growing in the UK too, is spicy crispy chill oil. This is a spoonable oil with flakes of crispy chillis, fried garlic, fermented soybeans and sugar. It’s the ultimate condiment for achieving that umami flavour, it’s spicy and sweet with flavours of caramelised garlic. Watch out for it on pizzas, salads and dumplings, and stirred through mac ‘n’ cheese, Bolognese and soups.