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10 Hottest Food Trends to Watch Out For In 2022

Food trends for 2022 are all about getting used to “the new normal,” making our lives more sustainable and flavours more exciting.

Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

Yearly trends in food and dining can be difficult to predict—and the food trends for 2022 are no exception. But after a stressful 2021, many people are turning to food, more than ever, as a means of comfort and wellbeing. The food trends of 2022 point toward an overall goal of better health for our bodies, planet, and wallets. From cooking styles to star ingredients, you can expect many of the items on this list to become a permanent part of the culinary landscape even beyond 2022.

So, let’s take a moment to see what will fill our kitchens, plates, and bellies in 2022.

1. Flexitarian diet

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Not everyone is ready or willing to make the switch to a total plant-based diet, which is why the trend of “flexitarian” eating is still going strong. The concept of being a flexitarian is simple: Meat becomes a once-in-a-while or only-on-the-weekends food, rather than part of your regular meal rotation.

“The world is gradually slowing down and moving towards sustainability. While consumers will not give up meat entirely, they will be more inclined than ever to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy and replace it with plant-based protein sources. So alternative concepts such as flexitarianism will be on the rise. Additionally, people are getting more vigilant about the source of meat to ensure its antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and pasture-raised,” says Sanjay Vazirani, chairman and managing director, Foodlink F&B Holdings India Pvt. Ltd.

2. Experiential dining

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Whether dining at a high-end restaurant or a popular local joint, the rise of ‘experiential dining’ has created ripples in the food and beverage sector. The trend is only poised to get stronger in the coming years. “There has been a lot of fatigue in the last two years. Consumers today are no longer just looking for good food; they want an experience. They’re looking for unique locations, quirky concepts, over-the-top versions of regular food items and even theatrics when they’re eating out. The concept of ‘drama dishes’ and interactive dining will be big in the years to come,” believes Rachel Goenka, founder and CEO of The Chocolate Spoon Company.

3. More restaurant launches 

The pandemic-led closure of restaurants will give rise to more launches in 2022, believes AD Singh, managing director, Olive Bar & Kitchen Pvt Ltd. “There has been a closing of around 25%of existing restaurants in India. As such, there is a great opportunity in the marketplace for entrepreneurs to open new or more restaurants. The availability of plenty of decent real estate as well as realistic rentals will add to the boom. Younger Indians who have moved back home to be closer to their roots and their families will open restaurants in the year ahead and they will bring to them their international exposure and fresh energy. Expect to see more new concepts, new ideas, and new cuisines coming into our marketplace than ever before,” he says. 

4. Artisan condiments will take centre stage

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Spreadable, dippable, or pourable condiment varieties are morphing from purely traditional to exotic with a unique flavour and texture profiles. Their popularity also stems from the fact that they can add flair, excitement, and interest to just about anything. Interest in this segment is likely to explode in the coming years.

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“Many new interesting brands are coming up with really good quality condiments at attractive price points. These hand-crafted, small batch bottles with little to no preservatives and at times delivered by the owner himself/herself will change the way people cook at home. Interestingly, these condiments are not necessarily ketchup or mustard chutney, but often an imaginative cross-over of two worlds—i.e. furikake podi of Chutney Collective or black garlic caper spread by Ishka Farms. These condiments are going to change the way people cook,” says Vidit Aren, executive chef at Soufflé S'il Vous Plaît and Slink & Bardot, Mumbai. 

5. The rise and rise of cloud kitchens

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As labour and rentals continue to be the greatest concerns for restaurateurs, cloud kitchens (or ghost kitchens) will have even more of an impact in 2022. The format, which allows restaurants to operate more efficiently and add to their bottom lines, will continue to flourish. Lux delivery kitchen Art of Dum will be adding at least two more cloud kitchens in Mumbai, as well as expanding to Bangalore and Hyderabad in 2022. Vicky Ratnani’s Speak Burgers is also slated to open multiple kitchens next year. As per Red Seer Management Consulting, the domestic cloud kitchens market is expected to grow from $400 million in 2019 to $2 billion by 2024.

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6. Sustainability on the plate

Now, more than ever, the importance of sustainability within the food and beverage industry has taken centre stage. From reducing food waste and incorporating ‘forgotten crops’ into the menu to using eco-friendly and sustainable packaging, restaurants are doing their bit. “The concept of organic or clean foods used to cater only to a niche as they were exorbitantly priced and difficult to source. Now with numerous brands in this space, it has become extremely affordable and accessible to integrate conscious eating into our everyday lives. While the impact of the pandemic may have been a catalyst for this movement, I’m quite certain this is now turning into a way of life. Restaurants and food brands now take pride and also feel responsible in telling the story of where their produce comes from, thereby maintaining transparency with customers,” says Sameer Seth, partner, Hunger Inc.Hospitality that runs The Bombay Canteen, O Pedro, and Bombay Sweet Shop.  

7. Bottled cocktails

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Born out of the necessity to ‘pivot’ during pandemic lockdowns, the rise of bartender‐created bottled cocktails has not only brought premium innovation to the category but also much‐needed revenue to the bars. And now it seems the trend is here to stay as it’s convenient, cost-effective, and tasty. “Pre-mixed cocktails have shed their less than sparkling reputation of being too sweet or highly calorific. Several beverage brands have now started to create high-quality and artisanal beverages catering to all kinds of audiences. With a busy lifestyle, consumers want the gratification of enjoying a great drink at home without putting in all the effort of creating one. Bottled and canned cocktails come as a perfect solution,” says Seth.  

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8. Plant-based meats

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In 2020, everyone discovered plant-based diets, with new products appearing across the market—from bakery and pastries to pizza, lattes, and even dirty burgers. The end of the year saw McDonald’s giving veganism perhaps the ultimate green flag with the launch of the McPlant menu. The Covid crises and everyone reassessing what they eat and their impact on the planet have only strengthened this trend. “

With growing awareness around sustainability and wellbeing, and the number of brands entering the market with very good plant-based alternatives, there will be more openness to trying these products, whether at home or chefs experimenting with them. We are a while away from wide-scale adoption considering the price point and general lack of information about it, but we will definitely see more non-vegetarians in urban areas trying these products,” claims Gauri Devidayal, founder and CEO, Food Matters.

9. Potato milk is coming

Now that milk alternatives like soy, coconut, and almond have had their moment, could potato milk be the next big thing to disrupt the vegan milk alternatives market? Yes, believes Rohan D Souza, culinary head at Silver Beach Hospitality. “With the growing popularity of alternative milks there is good reason to believe that this new non-dairy milk, made from boiled potatoes and the water they're cooked in, is poised to be the hot milk of 2022. Potato milk which is low in saturated fat and sugar will pave its way towards the coffee shops and kitchens around the globe,” he says. Additionally, potato milk is allergen-free, cheap to produce, and easier on the environment than other alternative milk.

10. Fermented foods will stay

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Expect to see a lot of fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir, natto, miso, and sauerkraut on restaurant menus. Simply because there has been an increased interest in fermented foods post the pamdemic. “These foods contain a lot of probiotics, which are good for the gut. They not only improve the gut but boosts immunity and weight loss as well,” says nutritionist Madhuri Ruia. 

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