Insights

Exciting 2022 food trends to look out for

Dec, 03 2021
Exciting 2022 food trends to look out for

Keeping a close eye on the food trends that are getting everyone excited is part of running a successful restaurant. Adapting to new trends in consumer behaviour is obviously a great way to make sure your business is always relevant. 

If you’re operating in a highly competitive market, such as a major city, moving with the times is even more vital. Let’s take a look at some of the food trends that have been big for a while now, but are expected to continue to have everyone talking in 2022.

Low or non-alcohol drinks/spirits

The rise of low and non-alcoholic drinks over the past few years has been phenomenal. In the UK, for example, on-trade sales in this category rose by 48% in 2019. This reflects a general change in attitudes towards non-alcoholic drinks. 

For the first time, they are being marketed as appealing ‘event’ drinks in their own right. Instead of an afterthought that the designated driver might consider, people who usually drink alcohol are instead trying alternatives for health reasons, but also simply because they sound delicious!

What can you do to capitalize on this trend?

Boosting non and low-alcohol sales is simple You just need to provide more options. Alcohol-drinking consumers are actually really keen to trial new products such as Seedlip alcohol-free spirits or very low-alcohol beers. They’re intrigued about whether these products taste as good as the real thing and many will come back for more and even visit your restaurant specifically to access these innovative products.

Mixing up mocktail recipes that can help you bring in higher margins on soft-drinks is also a good option. If you don’t already have interesting non-alcoholic drinks on your menu, it’s time to do something about it. 

Wellness food products

This market comes from two angles. First, there are the ‘foodie’ consumers who like discovering new products. For them, the popularity of preserved/fermented foods started with kimchi and has moved to everything from miso and kombucha to kefir and sauerkraut. These foods are having a ‘moment’ and even supermarkets are starting to stock fermented and preserved foods in vast numbers to meet rising demand. 

Happily, these delicious products also have many health benefits and it’s this that has attracted the other side of the market – the wellness-seekers. Fermented products are great for adding depth of flavour to your dishes but they are also effective for boosting your immune system, for blood health and for the health of your gut. 

How can you capitalize on this trend?

Simply by incorporating some of these ingredients into your dishes. If your chef has her finger on the pulse when it comes to food trends, she’s probably already aware of these products and will be eager to give them a go. If your menu doesn’t allow for this, why not offer kefir or kombucha on your dessert or drinks menu as a way of ticking that particular box?

Asian flavours and umami

It’s that elusive flavour; that one that makes food particularly satisfying to eat. It’s umami and consumers are going crazy for it. Waitrose has recorded a boom in purchases of its Umami Paste over the past year and the flavours of Japan in particular are becoming more diners and at-home cooks. 

Yuzu, sesami and seaweed are all classic Japanese flavours that people all around the world can’t get enough of. In the year preceding the pandemic, the popularity of Japanese restaurants was already growing, according to research by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. But the at-home restaurant kit market and rise in takeaways drove more and more people to consider Japanese as a healthier alternative to traditional takeaways, such as Chinese food and Indian food. 

How can you capitalise on this trend?

Once again. It’s all about health and wellbeing. Make sure you consider the fact that consumers and diners are MUCH more interested in healthy and sustainable eating than they were even ten years ago. You can ride this wave by adding more healthy, fresh Asian dishes to your menu, offering more fish and vegetable-based Asian dishes and encouraging your chef to incorporate Japanese flavours into their dishes. 

Home-grown produce

It seems that local and seasonal is no longer quite enough to satisfy all restaurateurs and diners. Now, hyper-local is the buzzword finding its way onto menus all over the world. Hyper-local is all about either sourcing food in the immediate vicinity of the restaurant or, even better, kitchens being stocked with produce grown by the restaurant itself.

Growing your own produce may require some hard work and dedication, but it also saves restaurants a fortune that they are currently splashing on organic produce. Growing your own means owning the entire production process is under your control and maintaining organic standards is easy and cheap. 

From a consumer perspective, the attraction of restaurants growing their own produce is clear. It means no food miles, fresher ingredients and the guarantee of the very best and most seasonal organic dishes.

 

How can you capitalise on this trend?

If you have a garden on your premises, then growing your own specialist vegetables and herbs is a good place to start. Begin with produce that’s either difficult to source or expensive. Then the investment will more than pay off. Also, customers are more likely to be impressed by your organic, home-grown fennel, avocado, chilis and cilantro than your home grown carrots and cabbage. 

If you don’t have outdoor space, you could consider renting space in a communal garden or starting our own urban garden on local wasteland. If you are willing to put the time and effort in, you’ll find the investment pays off on your bottom line. And your chef will be very happy!

‘Shrooms

Don’t worry, we’re not talking about the hallucinogenic type… but we are talking about some of the more adventurous varieties. More and more people are becoming interested in mushrooms for their health benefits, their meat-like texture (great for flexitarians!) and their flavour. 

Mushrooms are also incredibly nutritious, high in anti-oxidants and low in calories. The perfect food? Quite possibly! And this is why sales of mushrooms, and particularly wild mushrooms and specialist varieties like Lion’s Mane, Porcini, King Oyster and Enoki, are going through the roof.

How can you capitalise on this trend?

Well, it’s simple really. Put more mushrooms on your menu. But also make sure that you highlight their health benefits to your customers by adapting your menu accordingly. Why not add some explanatory text all about mushrooms and their benefits onto your menus to help engage your diners and introduce them to the idea of trying something new.  

Mushrooms are, of course, a seasonal ingredient and they are at their best in the Autumn months, bear this in mind and plan some seasonal specials well in advance using wild mushrooms from a great supplier or that you have foraged yourself (with the help of an expert of course!)

Keeping up with food trends is easier when you can adapt your menu quickly and cheaply in response to availability and seasonality. Leslie can help you to achieve a level of flexibility that can help you to stand out from the competition and keep your fingers well and truly on the foodie pulse.