After predicting 7 out of 8 food trends for 2021 accurately back in 2019, the Spoonshot team is excited to share some of the biggest food trend predictions for 2022 and beyond. We expect to see sustainability and health taking center stage for food and drink companies in the coming year, as consumers show greater concern for these issues.
But both health and sustainability are pretty broad terms, so we’ve delved a little deeper into specific areas that are slated to grow. We’ll also delve a bit into what to expect from food service.
Table of contents
- Here’s our complete list of food trend predictions for 2022 and beyond
- Food Trend Predictions for 2022 In Health
- Food Trend Predictions for 2022 In Food Service
- Food Trends For 2022 & Beyond In Sustainability
- Bonus Food Trends For 2023 & Beyond
Here’s our complete list of food trend predictions for 2022 and beyond
Food Trend Predictions for 2022 In Health
2good 2gether: Food Synergies
After initial studies of the COVID-19 strain found that people with greater immunity were less likely to suffer more severe effects of the virus, there was a flurry to stock up on everyone’s go-to immunity booster, Vitamin C. Consumer interest spiked in the combination of Vit C and Zinc and its greater efficacy in immunity compared to just Vit C, which spurred on business interest in this combination. A significant number of food and drink launches featuring the immunity claim also promoted these two specific nutrients.
Business interest in the Vit C-Zinc combo went up 814% over the last year as consumer interest grew by 3%. However, it did grow by 66% in the first 6 months of 2020
Ocean Spray’s B1U range of functional waters has a variant that carries an immunity claim, highlighting the presence of Vitamin C and zinc
Food synergy is the concept of how nutrients from different foods interact and improve (or even diminish) absorption and bioavailability of the nutrients in the body. Bioavailability is the proportion of a nutrient in a food that is digested, absorbed, metabolized in our body. Not all micronutrients we consume are fully absorbed, which means that we do not receive the most out of our food.
One of the reasons why focusing on food synergies can be beneficial is that there is growing interest in the concept of food as medicine – consuming natural, minimally processed foods to get the most nutrition for better health outcomes.
Business interest in food as medicine as a concept went up by 55% over the last year, while consumer interest saw a slight 2% decline
“In the coming year, we expect to see greater consumer engagement with the concept of food synergy as they seek to take greater control of their health and rely on food as medicine rather than on pills. As consumers become more interested in nutrition beyond just macronutrients, we expect to see a shift from the single “hero ingredient” callouts to “dynamic duos”.”
Breathe Easy: The Gut-Lung Axis
Interest in gut health continues to grow as one of our food trend predictions for 2022 & beyond in both consumer and business media; social media conversations on health also put gut health as one of the leading health issues talked about.
Gut health continues to be important for consumers and businesses, with interest growing by 76% and 11%, respectively
The lungs, like many other parts of the body, have their own distinct microbiome but not as diverse or voluminous as the gut. In recent months, published research has pointed to a connection between the gut microbiome and the lungs, and is being called the “gut-lung axis”. Given the gut’s role in our body’s immune response, a healthy gut could be vital in fighting off any infection in the lungs as well.
A newly published study has pointed to a further connection between gut health and lung health. In clinical trials, a combination of five probiotic strains was found to reduce symptoms of viral upper respiratory tract infections by over 27%. This probiotic combination has been found to have even greater efficacy among people over the age of 45 years, particularly those who are obese or overweight. This opens the doors for newer functional benefits for probiotics and prebiotics.
“The gut-lung axis is just one of the many emerging benefits of maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal system. While it may be too early to use this as a scientifically-backed claim just yet, this is an evolution of the growing interest in gut health. It also just underscores the importance of the food-as-medicine credo that is increasingly gaining popularity among consumers.”
Food Trend Predictions for 2022 In Food Service
Scents & Sense-abilities
Smell and taste dysfunction have been among the most common symptoms of COVID-19. According to studies, 30-80% of COVID-19 patients reported a loss or distortion of taste (called ageusia), loss of sense of smells (anosmia), or parosmia (distorted perception of smell).
The road to recovery for many people has been a long and arduous one – for some, it took weeks, for some it was months and for others, it didn’t happen at all. Current global data (as of early 2021) on this loss of smell indicates that around 50% of patients fully recovered their sense of smell within 40 days of onset of COVID-19, but an estimated 10% have not yet gotten back these senses.
- Studies have shown that smell training – repeated short-term exposure to smells – can benefit people suffering from a loss of olfactory senses.
- Life Kitchen, a non-profit in the UK, has also launched a cookbook to help people enjoy their food again.
“Even though this may seem like a very specific trend with a short shelf life, anosmia and its variants are a lot more common than many realise. A number of ailments can lead to issues with taste and smell, as can old age. As such, there is a longer-term place for food and drink – in food service and in retail – that aid such consumers. It is also an opportunity for brands to experiment with new textures and flavor profiles.”
Robots Are Coming
What in the world do food predictions for 2022 have to do with robots? Let’s take a look.
As restaurants start to reopen for indoor or on-premise dining, the food service industry is struggling with – among other things – labor shortages. This covers not just front-of-house roles like server and cashier, but also back-of-house positions, like assisting in the kitchen.
One of the solutions that restaurants are starting to consider is automation to fill in the gaps, right from the making and serving of the food to home delivery. While automation or the concept of using robots in the food industry is not very new, it wasn’t until the pandemic that the food service industry really started to consider these are viable options.
We started to see the emergence of robot and drone delivery services for groceries and food in some cities during the pandemic to minimize points of contact. Robots are also being used to manage a number of kitchen and service tasks.
Miso Robotics was one of the first to launch an AI-powered robotic kitchen assistant and end-to-end frying solution.
Robots are also being used to manage a number of kitchen and service tasks. Miso Robotics was one of the first to launch an AI-powered robotic kitchen assistant and end-to-end frying solution. Called Flippy, the robotic arm can be programmed to flip burgers, toss salads, and make bowls.
“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. 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.”
Food Trends For 2022 & Beyond In Sustainability
Lab To Fork
In 2013, the first lab-grown hamburger was served to a small, select audience in London. It took three months to make, cost $280,000, and was hotly debated as unscalable. Now, less than a decade later, not only is it scalable, it’s also becoming affordable.
Singapore became the first country to allow the sale of lab-grown or cultured meat to the public in late 2021 and US company Eat Just launched its lab-grown chicken at a local restaurant.
Cultivated meat is made by extracting muscle stem cells from an animal, growing them in a medium, and structuring them using bioreactors into desired shapes (like cuts of meat). There are now more than 100 companies now working on cultured meat and auxiliary ingredients and technologies.
Lab-grown food may have started with meat, but it has most definitely not limited itself to that. We’re now seeing the emergence of all kinds of lab-made food, all thanks to the wonders of microbial fermentation. They not only spell new ways of sourcing animal-based foods, but also foods that may be facing an existential threat.
Foods that are now being grown in a lab include:
- Dairy products
- Animal fat
- Breast milk
- Meat alternatives
Investors clearly see the opportunity here. Big names like Bill Gates and Richard Branson and meat majors like Tyson have thrown their weight behind these products as interest in the space continues to grow. But for consumers, lab-grown food may be ahead of its time.
Business interest in lab-grown food grew by 64% over the last year, but consumer interest declined by 35%
“Over the next year or two, expect to see the animal products aisles expand to embrace cell-based foods as well, just as they have done for their plant-based peers. Other cultured foods will also start to appear on shelves or in products as ingredients.”
Plant-based milk goes grain-ular
The next growth spurt for plant-based milks is going to come from grains. Oat milk has already set the stage for the acceptance of grain-based milks, with its taste and greater sustainability compared to almonds and other nuts. Interest in oat milk has overtaken the other top contenders in the space of alt milk. It nearly doubled – 95% growth – over the previous year, while interest in almond milk grew 19% and soy milk declined by 7% during the same period.
Interest (consumer and business combined) in different plant-based milks
This makes the case to explore and expand other grains, barley in particular. Barley is a hardy grain and can be grown in extreme climates. It is the fourth most cultivated crop in the world and is quite nutritious, but not very widely used in the food industry except to make malt and beer.
These are some of the features that UK-based Bright Barley is focusing on as the first barley-based milk launched in the UK. Bright Barley is said to be low fat, a source of fiber, and has added calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
“Plant-based milks are here to stay and are gearing up to expand beyond soy and almonds. Grains are the next natural evolution, with the immense popularity of oat milk paving the way for other grains like barley that not only fulfill the health factor, but are better for the environment.”
We had predicted in 2020 that this space is going to see significant action in the coming years. This is especially true now that upcycling has a formal definition and a certification program. The Upcycled Certification Program is currently the only third-party certification program for upcycled food ingredients and products globally.
Upcycling still remains a niche concept among consumers, but will become more popular as more products and companies highlight these credentials and efforts. In the coming year, companies are going to take a hard look at the byproducts of their manufacturing processes and figure out ways of making them consumable (and not just as food) and cutting down waste.
Interest in upcycling grew by 128% in business media compared to a decline of 32% in consumer media over the last year
As upcycling becomes more accepted, the next focus is going to have to be to scale up the process and build a secure infrastructure. We also expect to see greater synergies as large established players look to invest in this space to garner the advantages of potentially reducing the food waste and improving their sustainability creds with consumers.
“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. We’ll even likely start to see new claims on-pack aimed at promoting the use of upcycled ingredients and reducing food waste.”
Bonus Food Trends For 2023 & Beyond
As we’ve seen, gut health continues to take precedence, especially given emerging research that indicates how important it is for overall health. But these conversations will go beyond ‘pro’ and ‘pre’ into lesser-known biotics, such as postbiotics. This is a new category of functional ingredients into the biotics space but studies are indicating that they may have wide-ranging implications for health.
Interest in postbiotics went up by 391% over the last year
Postbiotics include either whole microbial cells or components of the cells, as long as they have somehow been deliberately inactivated. They are byproducts of fermentation in the intestine – when probiotics feed on prebiotics, postbiotics are produced including organic acids, bacteriocins, carbonic substances, and enzymes. Postbiotics can be found in some foods containing probiotics, such as kimchi, kefir, and sourdough bread.
Postbiotics are likely to have many of the same benefits of prebiotics and probiotics, including lowering blood sugar and the risk of obesity, preventing leaky gut, as well as anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory benefits.
However, specific strains have also been shown to have expanded benefits, including for oral health and skin health.
Carbon labeling is here to stay
More food and drink products are starting to highlight their sustainability credentials by being upfront about their carbon footprint. Carbon labels are showing up on products in different formats and it looks like they are here to stay.
Interest in carbon labeling grew by 90% over the last year
We’re seeing brands, retailers, and restaurants starting to focus on on-pack carbon labeling as a way to promote transparency and spread awareness of our impact on the planet and appeal to environment-conscious consumers.
I’m the CEO & Co-Founder at Spoonshot. Our platform leverages food science and AI to predict consumer needs, F&B trends, and innovation opportunities. We help CPG/FMCG and foodservice companies adopt a data-led, agile, and forward-looking approach to product and menu development.