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How will Americans eat next year? Food predictions for 2022


Around the same time last year, upbeat trend forecasters predicted the cork would burst from the bottle by summer. With vaccines in arms, food culture would vibrate in a robust economy. America’s menus would be full of innovations driven by waves of international travel, and a new generation of digital-native cooks would be rewriting the rules.

Obviously, the prediction game can lose. But what if things don’t turn out the way everyone thinks they are? Trying to predict food trends is always fun, and sometimes even accurate. (Kudos to those professional tipsters who in recent years have highlighted the rise of quesabirria, puffed pancakes, delivery-only restaurants, and CBD. And a special quote for those who saw early on that these ripples of veganism would turn into a herbal tsunami.)

So how are things going for 2022? Not great. The year begins with a wave of a highly contagious variant of Covid-19 that only adds to the economic uncertainty. Social justice concerns remain a priority for many, as does the pressure of a rapidly changing climate. All of this will affect the way food is grown, cooked and packaged.

But don’t despair. “Coercion breeds innovation,” said Anna Fabrega, a former Amazon executive who recently took over as head of the Freshly meal subscription service. She and other leaders in the food industry in the United States say 2022 will be another pragmatic and roll-up year, shaped by the needs of people working from home and by the shrewd but fickle Gen Z whose members want to food with sustainable ingredients and a strong cultural history, prepared without exploitation and delivered in a carbon neutral way – within 30 minutes.

With that in mind, here are some potential developments big and small that could define how we eat in the New Year, based on a review of dozens of trend reports and interviews with business leaders. food, global market researchers and others who do. their business to browse the landscape for the rest.

Mushrooms have landed on many prediction lists, in almost every form, from psilocybin mushrooms (which is part of the renewed interest in psychedelics) to chunky pieces of king oyster mushrooms as a replacement for scallops. The number of small urban farms growing mushrooms should flourish, and the mushroom fibers will begin to proliferate as a compostable and inexpensive medium for packaging.

Even in the age of mocktails, all of those ’80s drinks you barely remember (for obvious reasons) are coming back. Look for Blue Lagoons, Tequila Sunrises, Long Island iced tea, and reworked amaretto sours with fresh juices, less sugar, and better spirits. “We all need things that are sweet, colorful, happy, and playful, especially now,” said Andrew Freeman, president of AF & Co., the San Francisco-based consultancy that has published a 14-year trend report. food and hospitality. (A corollary to cocktails: the rise of eco-spirits, made with ingredients from local farms or food waste, and packaged and shipped using climate-friendly methods.)

Meat grown in the lab from animal cells is on track for federal approval by the end of 2022, and chicken will be one of the first products to become available. But plant-based chicken from companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat has recently hit grocery stores and restaurants, and the battle is underway to determine which substitute will dominate the market. And in the real chicken world, a dearth of wings is driving restaurants to try and persuade the masses to love another part of the chicken. The Wingstop chain, for example, has extended its brand with Thighstop.

Nostalgic childhood favorites from China (White Rabbit candies and haw flakes) and South Korea (the honeycomb-shaped ppopgi, aka dalgona candy and Apollo straws) will find their way into shopping carts and American dessert and drink recipes.

The third wave coffee movement was built on Arabica, the world’s most popular coffee. But climate change threatens production and pushes up prices, said Kara Nielsen, who tracks food and drink trends for WGSN, a consumer forecasting and consulting firm. Step into robusta, the bitter, heavily caffeinated workhorse that’s cheaper and easier to grow. It is the predominant bean grown in Vietnam, where coffee is brewed with a metal filter called a phin and sweetened with condensed milk and sometimes an egg yolk. A new style of Vietnamese coffee is popping up in many American cities, promising to take robusta with it.

The quality of edible spoons, chopsticks, plates, bowls and cups is increasing and the price is falling, signaling the start of a veritable revolution in edible packaging aimed at reducing single-use containers and plastic waste.

Mash-ups like “swicy” and “swalty” will join the linguistic mania that has earned us unfortunate nicknames like char coot and Cae sal (cold meats and Caesar salad, of course). The new phraseology reflects an even wider embrace of flavor fusions that marry savory spices and warmth with sweetness. Nene, a South Korean-based fried chicken chain that’s just starting to take hold in North America, even named a swicy sauce. Its flavor profile reflects what would happen if gochujang and ketchup had a baby.

Yuzu has its fans, but the money goes to hibiscus, which adds its crimson hue and tangy, earthy flavor to everything from cocktails and sodas to raw vegetables and yogurt.

With Covid limiting international travel in 2021, cooks across the United States have explored regional American cuisine. In 2022, India’s regional dishes will attract a lot of attention, with deep dives in dishes from Gujarat, Kerala, Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and the Awadh region.

With the supply chain in tatters and restaurant staff stretched almost to the breaking point, discerning shoppers and diners are out and patience is in order. Growing interest in the historical and cultural nature of food and its impact on the climate will only add to what forecasters (hopefully) say the emphasis will be on kindness and understanding.

As Jennifer Zigler, associate director of food and beverage at research firm Mintel, said, “We’ve all been through those stressful and anxious two years, and there’s this willingness to empathize. and understanding. “

Beyond the big trends, there’s a long menu of smaller ones: the growing popularity of Koji bacon, Chinese spirit baijiu, and laksa noodle soup. Jollof rice will appear on menus and in the frozen section. The seeds will rely on nuts as an alternative source of protein, in products like butters and ice cream. And look for a new interest in animal-free cheese, potato milk, moringa, Taiwanese breakfast dishes, tea, and olives.