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Published January 14th 2022

Trends in the Food and Beverage Industry for 2022

What are the trends in the food and beverage industry in 2022? Read our blog to learn how consumers talk about food and beverages this year.

Whether or not you considered yourself a foodie pre-pandemic, chances are lockdown inspired you to dabble in a bit of home cooking. In the food and beverage industry, there were plenty of new trends across 2021 that were often inspired by the pandemic and associated restrictions. 

Here are a few of the prominent crazes we expect to influence industry moves in 2022.

1. Smart gadgets continue to fuel the 'pandemic kitchen'

In 2021, consumers upped the ante on and committed further to their newest lockdown hobby: home cooking. Smart gadgets supercharged the pandemic kitchen. As restaurants continued to face somewhat prohibitive restrictions, people turned to their kitchens for more sophisticated dining experiences. 

Kitchen gadgets, like air fryers, became a hot commodity. In fact, a recent study by Nielsen revealed that many consumers who learned how to cook during the pandemic would continue with this habit.

These cooking habits were particularly strong among French consumers, posing a competitive threat to the restaurant business. Air fryer interest is still well above pre-pandemic levels, which suggests they could become mainstays in many kitchens (and could make good gifts!).

2. Consumers turn to meal kits to make meals activities

Speaking of upping the cooking game, meal kits played a big role in kitchens during 2021 and there has been a steady upward trend in conversations around meal kits.

This trend curve from Google Trends confirms our hunch that people are getting increasingly interested in this way of cooking.

Among the common phrases within conversations around meal kits, we spotted:

  • 30 minutes
  • Home chef
  • Healthy food
  • Meals plans

Consumers are clearly looking to broaden their eating experiences by adding healthier alternatives without spending more time in the kitchen.

3. Interest in foraging is on the rise

Interest in foraging peaked in 2021.

Wild Food UK, which runs courses in England, Wales and Scotland had an exceptional year for sales as consumers sought out their 2019 foraging pocket guide. According to their team, the organization’s website has “had over a million [visitors] last year – an upturn of about 25%”.

And a number of new books, including Knight’s upcoming Forage: Wild Plants to Gather, Cook and Eat, address what to pick and when.

Businesses would be wise to continue to pay attention to trends like these as consumer attention turns to the origins of the food they eat. While foraging is an increasingly popular hobby, these same consumers will still need to turn to stores for certain items and their preferences could continue to shift in unexpected ways.

4. Mushrooms, mushrooms and…more mushrooms

The foraging journey goes one step deeper. When it comes to the most-sought after resource, the biggest topic in the foraging conversation was about collecting mushrooms.

General mushroom interest continued to grow, especially as the Northern Hemisphere hit fall in 2020 and mushrooms were in abundance in the wild. While this died down a little going into 2021, it was back up again later in the year.

The health benefits of non-psychedelic mushrooms was part of the focus, as evidenced by the popular sub-reddit thread, /r/Mycology. The most-discussed mushrooms in the health sphere were lion’s mane and lingzhi mushrooms. These conversations included regular recommendations for their health benefits, as was the case for turkey tails too.

Health was also a big part of the conversation when it came to magic mushrooms, also sporting a popular sub-reddit thread, r/Shrooms. According to BuzzSumo data, the most popular mushroom article on Reddit over the past year was about the use of magic mushrooms as a treatment for depression in Canada.

Industry leaders would be wise to consider incorporating mushrooms in appropriate products and there could be bonus points for educating your audiences on the varied health benefits that come along with these additions. 

5. Home-made pizza is still popular, but takeout takes the lead

In the summer of 2020 we began to see mentions of homemade pizza skyrocket. While that might feel like decades ago, it seems like our craving for delicious pizza creations hasn’t died down.

Home-made pizza and pizza as a term both had a spike in mentions as the pandemic began. People used their time indoors to try their hand at making pizza, or got it delivered to their door as eating out became impossible in many places.

But there’s a difference in what’s happened since. The level of homemade pizza mentions has returned to what it was in 2019, while takeout mentions are sitting a little higher than they were.

With increasing numbers of people going back to the office and having less time to make dough from scratch (or dinner in general), the higher volume of takeout talk makes sense. This data suggests that while those home-cooking habits may have stuck, we are inching back to loving takeaway pizza as a treat.

6. Exploring the sober curious movement

Over the past several years, the demand for alcohol-free alternatives has been steadily growing. Global sales of no- and low-alcohol beverages are surging. A study by The International Wines and Spirits Record (IWSR) found that the category gained 3% share within the total beverage alcohol market in 2020, and the total volume consumption of no-/low-alcohol products is projected to grow by 31% by 2024.

General interest in sobriety is also growing – while it’s a popular search term every January, 2021 saw the most worldwide “sobriety” searches in five years.

What does it mean to be “sober curious?”

The term was first introduced by Ruby Warrington, a British writer and the leader behind the movement, whose book “Sober Curious” was published in 2018

The idea behind sober curiosity is to question every social situation and make conscious choices whether to consume alcohol or not, rather than go along with the “dominant drinking culture”.

In 2019, the phrase really took off on social media and, after a slump at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s picked up speed again.

7. Delivery and convenience continue to reign

Speaking of delivery, convenience continued to reign supreme in 2021. A lot has changed in the food industry in recent years. We’ve seen the new dominance of grocery delivery services, meal kits, and food apps emerging one after another, and consumers have a lot to say. Here’s 2021 looked like in numbers:

  • 17M: Total mentions related to the food industry and trends (+52% from 2019)
  • 7M: Unique authors (+39% from 2019)

Ordering food delivery still had the largest share of voice within these conversations but grocery delivery and alcohol delivery services grew massively in popularity in 2020 compared to 2019.

Besides alcohol, groceries, and ready-to-eat food delivery, there was also a steady upward trend for conversation around meal kits. This trend curve from Google Trends confirms our hunch that people are getting more and more interested in this way of cooking.

What does all this delivery mean for restaurants? Well, it could spell bad news since consumers are keen to prepare restaurant-quality meals themselves at home with the help of meal kits. Perhaps one way to counter this is for restaurants to get involved in the world of meal kits.

We decided to dig a little further by looking at people talking about quitting drinking online, and those talking about planning to quit drinking.

It turns out that while lots of people may want to quit drinking, those reporting that they’ve actually quit altogether seem to be fewer in number. That said, being “sober curious” isn’t necessarily about quitting outright.

Alcohol companies seem to be aware of the “sober curious” trend. Industry players should see this increase in interest as an opportunity to invest in the non-alcoholic drinks category, expand their product offerings, and improve market share.

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