5 Restaurant Food Trends to Look out for in 2022
Restaurant food trends are constantly changing. As the clock ticks and 2022 draws nearer, it’s crucial to know what customers might expect to find on next year’s menu.
Yes, Food Trends Shape Customer Expectations!
The New Year is knocking on your busy kitchen door. With it, a new wave of food trends will set out to define what customers expect to find on your restaurant’s menu. But should these trends matter to your establishment, especially if its current menu is both well-crafted and popular with diners?
The short answer is yes. More often than not, new and exciting food trends set the standard for what new customers may anticipate when flipping through your menu. So if you’re a chef or a restaurant manager dedicated to delivering a satisfactory experience, make sure you’re in the know. There’s a lot to look out for, but we’ve picked no less than 5 key food trends to look out for as we move into 2022.
5 Restaurant Food Trends for 2022
1. Plant-Based Foods
Interest in plant-based foods has been consistently rising over the past years. This is obvious once we consider the estimated growth of the plant-based meat industry, currently a $20 billion business. Fueling this substantial interest, CNBC quotes reasons ranging from animal welfare and environmental concerns to food security and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Throughout 2021, we’ve seen a steady increase in the consumption of and interest in plant-based foods. The trend is expected to last well into 2022 and beyond, which means it’s time to have a quick look at your menu and ask yourself if it needs a produce-friendly update. If so, you know whom to rely on!
2. Spicy Blends
This food trend isn’t exactly new, either. But more so than ever, we’ve noticed that spicy dishes (or at least various spicy sauces) have been a must-have in most U.S. restaurants. Moreover, creating spicy dishes for your menu can be quite an exciting endeavor. From spicy chicken, spicy hotdogs, meatballs, grilled shrimp, and various blends of spicy sausages to hot and tasty soups—a chef’s imagination is the limit.
We know that Asian Cuisine has greatly enhanced the taste for hot spices and recipes in the West for…centuries. So if you’ve been unsure about their popularity or how well they’d fit with your current menu, delay no more: a delicious spicy sauce can work with pretty much any food establishment. At any rate, now’s the perfect time to embrace some new fiery recipes, as we expect this trend to keep rising in 2022 and beyond.
3. Immunity Boosters
Many factors can give rise to significant food trends, and we’re sure that you can guess what’s behind this one. The Covid19 pandemic is making most of us pay close attention to their immunity. Since food products are our most important source of immunity-boosting nutrient compounds, some people have started thinking twice about their dietary choices.
According to Beneo, 2020 had already seen a growing interest in healthier ingredients. More precisely, about 64% of the surveyed consumers have indicated a genuine interest in their immune health, opting for foods that offer preventative health benefits. Furthermore, the pandemic seemed to have influenced about 75% percent of consumers to eat and drink healthier on average.
In short, your customers may be shifting their attention to so-called functional foods. These are food products proven to boast health benefits beyond essential nutrition (including boosting one’s immune system). Examples of functional foods include blueberries, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, turmeric, ginger, almonds, citrus, natural yogurt. Yes, we’re talking about adequately grown and locally-sourced ingredients in particular. And this is one of the many reasons restaurants are turning to locally-sourced produce. So here’s the food train you should board quickly if you’re concerned about the wellbeing of your diners.
4. Vegan Milk Alternatives, especially Potato Milk
Vegan milk alternatives easily make it on our list of essential food trends in 2022. Of course, we’ve seen oat, rice, almond, and even buckwheat milk on market shelves for quite some time now, but there is a new variety rising to stardom: potato milk. Not only is it free of common allergens such as lactose, nuts, and gluten, but it’s also low in sugar and saturated fats. Finally, potato milk is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin D, and calcium—all of which are essential to our wellbeing.
As more and more U.S. households are being introduced to plant-based milk varieties, it’s expected that this ingredient will also become a significant restaurant food trend in 2022.
5. Asian Flavors, particularly Japanese Cuisine
As we have seen with spicy foods, Asian Cuisine has dramatically enhanced our taste for certain food experiences. Just think of the essential flavor of umami, a Japanese loanword that roughly translates to “pleasant savory taste”. The best part? You don’t have to run an Asian-specific business to draw inspiration from a continent whose culinary history is both fascinating and highly diverse. Therefore, when speaking of food trends in 2022, we expect the fondness for so-called “exotic” flavors to grow.
And that’s not just in the U.S. Many European nations have been borrowing dietary concepts and ideas from Asian cultures, and Japanese cuisine is widely adored in particular. As a result, restaurants serve more Japanese-inspired dishes due to growing demand; and they have gone way beyond miso, sushi, and ramen. We’re talking about unagi (grilled eel), okonomiyaki (a savory pancake dish), or zaru soba (cold soba noodles). What’s more, people have gone ahead and learned how to cook some of these delicious dishes home!
Final Thoughts on Food Trends in 2022
All in all, 2022 holds a strong promise for many exciting food trends. We think you may want to consider these ideas before designing next year’s menu. For more on that, you might want to head to 8 Fantastic Menu Engineering Tips to Spice Up Your Restaurant.
That’s only half the story, though. If you’re ready for a deeply positive shift, other significant changes you could consider for your 2022 menu include reducing food waste and opting for seasonal, organic, and locally-sourced ingredients. For all of that and more, you can always count on Riviera Produce!