As 2021 comes to a close, the food and beverage industry has an eye on 2022 and beyond. What flavors, formats and fads are consumers most excited about, and how can formulators and CPGs best serve them? OnePoll, in partnership with Premier Protein, sought to answer those questions and more with its recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults; here’s what consumers themselves are looking forward to in 2022:
Healthy can’t sacrifice taste
More than 8 in 10 consumers said tasty flavors still matter when it comes to eating healthy, and by and large most consumers feel healthier options fall short in that regard. Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) respondents said they don’t think healthy foods generally taste good enough, and more than 7 in 10 (72%) said they’d eat more healthy foods if they tasted better. Three-quarters of respondents indicated they would prefer healthier foods in more indulgent flavors, including chocolate, ice cream and peanut butter.
Additionally, healthy eating is not always easy for consumers; 21% said they struggle with dieting and healthy living. Sweet (54%) and salty (49%) snacks were the leading temptations for consumers, with ice cream and cookies standing out as particular favorites. As for how to make healthy eating easier, the answer may come in the form of beverages; 65% of consumers indicated a preference to consume healthier options via beverages such as shakes and smoothies rather than as foods.
There is some promising news, especially for the plant-based market. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents indicated they’d tried, and been pleasantly surprised by the taste of, alternative protein options such as veggie burgers, cauliflower tater tots and plant-based mac and cheese.
American palates are as diverse as ever, which is reflected in consumers’ interests looking ahead. Several popular 2021 flavors are expected to continue drawing interest in 2022. Coffee is still of interest to nearly half (43%) of consumers, with other 2021 trends like green and black tea (38%) and citrus (35%) still looking strong going into the new year.
New flavors are also drawing consumer interest. Nearly half (46%) of respondents pointed to mint-chocolate as a flavor they look forward to seeing more of in 2022. Another 36% indicated an interest in lemongrass, and 34% want to try hot honey flavored food and beverage next year. Mango (36%), red bean (31%) and teaberry (30%) also drew interest.
When it comes to healthier options, fruits are a favorite of consumers and should continue to be into the future. Four of the top five favorite healthy options are fruits, led by apple (58%) and banana (57%), with orange (55%) and blueberry (52%) not far behind. Sources of protein rounded out the healthy favorites list, including chicken (49%), beef (46%) and eggs (46%).