10 food and beverage trends to watch in 2022

ofi’s team of innovation and culinary experts unpacks some of the top food trends of the year across our portfolio of products.

 

Experts on ofi’s innovation team, based out of our customer solution center in Chicago, came together to share 10 food and beverage industry trends to watch in 2022. Chefs Jill Houk, Daniel Espinoza, Andrew Pingul, and food technologist Candace Smith-Lee, share what’s trending in food ingredients innovation from beverage, to bakery, to snacking. They share how ofi’s natural and delicious ingredients can work together in on-trend food applications that delight customers.

 

Check out ofi’s list of top 10 food trends this year.

1. Alcohol-free beverage boom

During the pandemic, alcohol and immunity-boosting beverages trended as people drank immunity-boosting beverages during the day and switched to alcohol as they engaged with friends and family via virtual happy hours, says Candace Smith-Lee, a senior food technologist in beverage at ofi. According to Innova, the alcoholic beverage market grew more than 6% through 2020 and 2021. By 2021, that indulgence in alcoholic beverages led to a new trend.

 

“While alcohol is still trending, it’s trending at the same level as non-alcohol beverages,” says Smith-Lee. Approximately 30% of American adults have chosen to live a sober lifestyle1, while 1 in 5 American adults are sober curious.2 This means they engage in a pre-planned period of sobriety like “Dry January” or “Sober October.”

 

ofi can support food applications in this arena through our Blends of the Americas spices which Smith-Lee envisions lending an exciting burst of flavor in mocktails and on cocktail rims. And she sees our nut milks, cocoa, and spices, as great ingredients to help bring plant-based creamy mocktails to life.

 

Cook, Philip. (2007). Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control. Princeton University Press. Print.
Dry January movement grows in 2022, but for many it's more damp than dryMorning Consult. (2022, February 14).

2. Proliferation of coffee alternatives

According to a National Coffee Association Survey, 58% of Americans drink some form of coffee every day, whether that’s black coffee, espresso drinks or other coffee beverages. “Within the theme of healthy living, people are looking to consume less caffeine. So, they’re either reducing caffeine or eliminating it entirely,” says Smith-Lee of the trend.

 

While caffeine alternatives aren’t an entirely new concept, with popular beverages like matcha and kombucha on shelves, there are newer alternatives gaining popularity like golden milk and coffee fruit beverages. Golden Milk, a plant- or animal-based turmeric milk that is generally served hot, is a perfect pairing for the Warm Sedona Sunset blend from ofi’s ‘Blends of the Americas’ launched in 2021. Warm Sedona Sunset is a Southwest blend that radiates sweet heat through turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and green cardamom. Coffee fruit beverages upcycle the coffee cherry to create a lightly caffeinated tea-like beverage which contains good-for-you components such as potassium and chlorogenic acid. ofi offers a soluble coffee fruit powder that is conveniently ready-to-use in beverage infusions.3

 

Bioactives of coffee cherry pulp and its utilization for production of Cascara beverage, Food Chemistry, A. Heeger et. Al./ Food Chemistry 221 (2017) 969-9

3. Mood-enhancing beverages without inebriation

Innova Market Insights’ Lifestyle & Attitudes Survey in 2021, found that 25% of respondents chose products marketed to induce feelings of relaxation or comfort. In the beverage industry, there are a number of trends perceived to benefit your emotional and mental well-being, such beverages using ginseng and butter coffee.

 

“When I think of mood occasion, I think of warm, hot beverages. I think of the old wives’ tale of drinking warm milk before bed to get a better night’s sleep,” says Smith-Lee of her take on the trend.

4. Health-focused desserts

Andrew Pingul, ofi pastry chef, identifies “healthier” indulgence, as a recent trend standing out, with the proliferation of keto-friendly cake kits on the shelves. Innova Market Insights for example, found that 38% of consumers increased their consumption of cakes with additives aimed at specific benefits. Food manufacturers have been adding ingredients that they assert lend potential health benefits to products, notes Pingul. “We’re seeing a lot of antioxidants being added to products like candy bars, granola bars,” says Pingul, noting cocoa, coffee and spices may offer some benefits.

 

Incorporating small amounts of such ingredients can allow consumers to feel better about indulging in certain desserts and snacks. ofi’s portfolio of products can satisfy the desire of our customers’ to enhance their products, whether by adding nuts for protein and healthier fat, helping reduce sugar in food applications by using spices to boost flavor, or by increasing potential antioxidant benefits through certain ingredients like coffee, cocoa, spices, and nuts. ofi’s soluble coffee fruit powder contains antioxidants and has a wide range of dessert applications including cakes, cookies, ice cream, macarons, souffles, and crème brulee.4

 

Bioactives of coffee cherry pulp and its utilization for production of Cascara beverage, Food Chemistry, A. Heeger et. Al./ Food Chemistry 221 (2017) 969-9

5. Over-the-top indulgent desserts

Pingul has also seen a trend in pairing indulgence with mood lifting, similar to what Smith-Lee sees happening in beverage. Bakery and confectionary is already known for being sweet and indulgent says Pingul, but we’re also now seeing packaging that reflects mood lifting and a feeling of reward in line with the indulgent taste of the product. Pingul points to Target’s new brand named ‘Favorite Day,’ which was launched in 2021, as just one example.

 

“People are looking for comfort, and with that, looking for products that remind them of home,” says Pingul.

6. Desserts become the latest

mash-ups

Pingul sees mash-ups as another trend in bakery products. When it comes to creating new flavors on top of existing products, Pingul shares that it helps to build on consumers’ trust of already established, familiar brands. “It speaks to keeping people interested and engaged by creating something new with something they’ve already had,” says Pingul. The OREO® brand being a familiar example of this trend with the introduction of flavors like Carrot Cake or Peanut Butter Pie.

7. Authentic cuisine inspires new products

Daniel Espinoza, corporate research and development chef at ofi, says the authentic inspiration trend has been big for him, trail-blazing on things that a decade ago would not have been considered mainstream. To demonstrate this trend, Espinoza, a Mexican American, shares the tradition behind al pastor, which translates to “in the style of the shepherd.”

 

Espinoza shares that al pastor actually started in Puebla, Mexico by Lebanese immigrants bringing a chile pepper-forward lamb shawarma to the region. Over the years it evolved from lamb to pork. Al pastor flavors are known for onion, garlic, and chile peppers, as well as pineapple. Today, Espinoza has seen al pastor on the shelves and in the freezer aisle, in products like pork rinds and freezer meals like taquitos al pastor.

8. Going nuts for nuts

The use of nuts in food applications is growing thanks to interest in healthy snacking, meat alternatives, and protein powders, says Espinoza. In fact, dairy alternative growth is predicted to be greater than 11% through 2027 (Food Institute, 2021). Espinoza and the innovation team at ofi have been exploring applications for customers working with ingredients like walnuts and almond flour.

9. Consumers explore new chile pepper varieties

Consumer interest in high-heat chile peppers and more variety is growing, according to Espinoza. He says he’s started seeing a wider variety of chile peppers available, like chiltepin, ancho, poblano, and adobo, that growing up he could only find in his mother’s kitchen.

 

“As a Mexican, it makes me very proud to see this demand for the variety of chiles,” says Espinoza. “Poblano is one of my favorite things to share with people. If you dry it, it just becomes chile ancho.” Poblano, Espinoza says, can help add heat to traditional alfredo sauce, and ancho and other chiles can be used to liven up barbeque recipes and sauces with new flavors.

10. Purpose-driven food service

“We all know the last two years have been rough for frontline workers, especially those in food service,” says Jill Houk, culinary director at ofi. “One of the 2022 trends that’s gained a lot of steam is purpose-driven restaurants.”

 

Houk has seen restaurants embracing social causes since the early days of the pandemic, including foodservice championing causes related to social justice, environmental issues, or a cause that supports their workers and/or is food-related. Aligning to a purpose can help restaurants build a stronger connection to their employees and Millennial and Gen Z consumers who are interested in where their food comes from and how it’s made.

In a similar vein, in 2021, ofi re-launched its brand and, as part of that work, embraced a new purpose to ‘Be the Change for Good Food and a Healthy Future.’ This new purpose helps guide ofi’s understanding of its role in society and creating positive impact on the world with its customers and partners.