“As we move into 2022, natural & organic, specialty and fresh products will continue to outpace conventional products in growth rates—and we see no end in sight,” said Brandon Barnholt, president and chief executive officer at KeHE Distributors. “We are all adapting to the market we are confronted with right now. The ‘next normal’ presents the industry and—consumers—with unique challenges as well as some new innovative options to explore in the food and beverage market space.”
As 2021 comes to a close, KeHE’s trend gurus examined major events in 2021 and determined their potential repercussions to determine the macro trends for the upcoming year. With this close eye on rising product innovation, consumer trends and industry shifts, the team offers its top 10 food and beverage market macro trends for 2022:
- Cuisine Exploration: Consumers are looking to travel the world through their tastebuds, with newer flavors like yuzu and ube. Younger generations, such as Gen Z, are driving consumption of African and Mediterranean cuisine.
- Food Tech Boom: 2022 will see the continued rise of plant-based varieties such as ready-to-eat (RTE) meats, sugar replacements and new categories utilizing food technology.
- Sober-Curious Drinkers: Coined by KeHE, consumers have become “sober-curious” and “mindful drinkers,” looking for alcohol-free options.
- Dual Purpose Brands: Consumers will look for brands that implement upcycling, water reduction, and reduction of their carbon footprint.
- Convenience Continues: The pandemic has led consumers to favor convenience foods including grab and go snacks, chef-inspired frozen meals and refrigerated appetizers.
- Flexitarian Diets: Consumers no longer follow strict diets but like to pick and choose what suits them. For example, choosing to be more flexible with what they consume such as less meat and more plants rather than a fully dedicated vegan or vegetarian diet.
- Permissible Indulgence: Sixty-nine percent of consumers say they want the best of both worlds, balancing snacks that have taste but are also a healthier alternative.
- Shopping Local: Supply chain issues have made shopping locally a necessity and shoppers want to also feel more connected to their communities.
- Getting Grain-ular: While oats are all the rage, experts predict the rise of grains including pistachio, hemp, barley and seed alternatives.
- Functionality Collab: As inflation increases food prices, consumers are looking to get the most out of their food, such as mushrooms which are entering the coffee and snack categories.