Pre-2020, food trends heavily revolved around what people could expect to see on menus and consume in restaurants. Over the past two years, the outlook has been more locale agnostic, something I anticipate being a reality for the foreseeable future, if not indefinitely.
So here we are, looking ahead to 2022. From the perspective of someone who breathes, sleeps, and of course, eats all things concerning food, I’ve taken bits and pieces from market insights, anecdotal accounts, client observations, and pop culture to compile this forecast.
Before I dive into my predictions, I feel that I should acknowledge a couple of 2021 trends that will surely spill into this new year.
Charcuterie Board Mania: While charcuterie boards are nothing new, they broke through as a major trend while people were stuck at home, longing for the opportunity to be social and feel fancy again (in an over-simplified nutshell). They’re attainable, accessible, customizable, and Instagram-able…translation, brace yourself for the continuation of charcuterie boards to dominate your social feeds during upcoming holidays, award show parties, girl’s nights, and so on and so forth.
Mail Order Sous Chefs: Just because people are overwhelmingly working from home doesn’t mean they have extra hours to devote to planning, procuring, and prepping for intricate recipes on a random Tuesday night. This is where meal kits shine. Of course, the popularity of meal kits pre-dates the pandemic, and with people continuing to spend more time at home, it’s no mystery why nearly 2.4 million people have downloaded the HelloFresh app within the past eleven months (up from 2020) .
MY 2022 PREDICTIONS
I’d like to preface my list with a few disclaimers. Although charcuterie boards are fun, the overarching themes permeating throughout my predictions center around authenticity, transparency, and efficiency. Additionally, many naturally overlap. Lastly, this list is from a decidedly US lens. So here we go…
Savoring the Motherland
Distinctively global cuisine that’s true to its roots, sans an Americanized slant. These recipes aren’t up for interpretation, it’s all about heritage and authenticity that can be enjoyed (and prepared by all) with reverence.
With ancestral eating becoming more prominent in 2022, Americans will undoubtedly have to diversify their kitchens. Let’s face it, tagines would be hollow without saffron (and arguably its namesake pot) and jollof rice would be incomplete without Scotch bonnet peppers and the food lore that accompanies it.
Fabulous Fungi and Awesome Algae
As either the starring role or supporting actor on the diner plate, mushrooms and seaweed are extremely versatile, plentiful, nutritious, environmentally benevolent, and (subjectively) delicious. Whether foraged in nature or cultivated in a controlled setting, these foods are true texture and umami superstars.
In many cities, some of the year’s hottest restaurants may not own a single chair…and customers are just fine with that. Ghost kitchens, or virtual kitchens, allow restaurant operators to be super-efficient by eliminating high overhead costs and expanding reach through delivery.
Expect to see more chain restaurants enter this space, especially as a litmus test before fully committing to new markets.
Produce With City Center Zip Codes
Chances are, if you’re in the NYC metro, your collard greens may have had better skyline views than you. With the rise of vertical farming and rooftop gardens (I won’t admit whether the pun was intended), city-dwelling consumers can enjoy farm-fresh produce that may have been picked just hours ago. Urban farming offers a host of pluses, including higher quality crops without pesticides, the democratization of fresh food to underserved communities, and a heavy emphasis on key conservation practices, such as water reuse.
- Honorable Mention-
Plant-Based Without Compromise
47% of consumers who eat meatless products, at least once a month, think meat-substitutes are healthier than meat products . In the grand scheme of things, they’re correct. Decreased consumption of red meat is linked to a lower risk of heart disease . However, in a world where flexitarians are emerging as a growing subset within this space, many are seeking alternatives that closely mimic the real thing. Under the guise of being “healthy” and aiming to satisfy the palate of more mainstream consumers, some plant-based products contain elements that seem to counter the intentions of originally going plant-based. Components like artificial colors, preservatives, and high sodium (in some cases, up to six times the amount of meat products) are raising eyebrows. While consumers are demanding more plant-based options, many are also demanding more transparency.
What will you be purchasing, growing, cooking, and eating in 2022?
 AppMagic (December 2021) Survey: App downloads of main food subscription box providers in the U.S. 2019-2021
 YouGov (June 2021) Survey: What's driving consumer desire for meatless products
 Journal of the American College of Cardiology (July 2017) Healthful and Unhealthful Plant-Based Diets and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in U.S. Adults