The ongoing pandemic will continue to have lasting effects on our food and beverage choices in 2022. Here are some new and continuing trends for the coming year:

Functional beverages will play an increasing role in helping us combat our stress.

Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S., impacting 18% of the 18+ population. However, only 37% of people receive professional treatment for their anxiety. With COVID-19, feelings of anxiety have been exacerbated with social isolation and feelings of professional burnout. 

Recess Beverages advertisement
Image courtesy of Recess Beverages

Many brands have leveraged consumer interest in anxiety and stress relief with functional food and beverage products. Recess is a sparkling water brand that creates drinks that aim to make consumers feel calm, cool and collected. These drinks are infused with functional ingredients like whole plant extract and adaptogens for calm and clarity. Another brand that has taken advantage of this new found consumer interest is Three Spirit. Three Spirit creates functional and healthier non-alcoholic beverages made with functional plants and active compounds. 

A plant-based burger
Image courtesy of VegNews

Plant-based meats will become more meat-like.

The rise in popularity of plant-based meats has induced companies to invest in significant R&D to make meat meatier. The Boston-based food technology company Motif FoodWorks recently launched HEMAMI, a heme-binding myoglobin protein that delivers the flavor and aroma of traditional animal-based meat. HEMAMI will enable a new taste and experience level for meat alternatives that will appeal to a wider base of consumers. Motif’s product has received FDA approval and they are now in the process of scaling and commercializing their product in a facility in Northborough, MA. 

Another up-and-coming player is Tender (previously Boston Meats) who is focusing on developing plant-based whole cuts, like steaks and chicken breasts. The key will be fusing the arts of science and cooking to create a meat that consumers eat not just to save the planet, but because it just tastes really good. 

Yogurt by The Collective
Image courtesy of The Collective

More foods will let our taste buds travel, even if we can’t.

Although COVID has restricted travel, consumers are still eager to try new flavors and revisit old flavors. Flavorchem predicts that in 2022, “indulgent global flavors” will persist in other categories, like snacks and bakery. Some of these flavors include Dragon Fruit, Elote, Gochujang, Horchata, Sriracha and Wasabi. 

One somewhat unexpected category where we see this happening is the yogurt aisle. While expected flavors and health claims initially draw in the consumer, exotic flavors keep them coming back. We see this already in New Zealand where The Collective, the country’s best selling yogurt brand, is launching probiotic yogurts with flavors like Vietnamese coffee, Tamarillo Custard and boysenberry.

The Good Crisp cheese ball snack
Image courtesy of The Good Crisp Company

Immunity boosting claims will be everywhere. 

With the ongoing COVID pandemic, consumers will continue to seek out immune-boosting food and beverages. Beck Flavors’ 2022 Flavor Trends Report found that immunity has become a key focus for consumers and 83% of consumers globally believe that a healthy diet can help build immunity. Approximately half of consumers worldwide are now consuming more immunity-boosting foods. 

Certain flavors signal immunity more than others, with refreshing citrus flavors like clementine and spices like ginger rising in popularity. One unexpected company that has leveraged this new consumer need is The Good Crisp Company, with the recent release of their immunity-boosting Cheese Balls. These Cheese Balls include Wellmune, which is a yeast beta glucan that is clinically proven to boost immune system function.

Wildcrafter Botanical Coffee
Image Courtesy of Wilcrafter Coffee

Botanicals will be in everything, even the unexpected.

Over the past two years, roughly half of the new beverage launches have included a floral flavor. This will continue in 2022 with botanicals appearing in often unexpected places, like coffee. Some are using botanicals to spice up their existing line, like Rifle Paper Co., while others are basing their entire line on botanicals, like Wildcrafter and Tuturu Coffee.

Flavorwise, elderflower is poised to be the breakout star in 2022, with its use in mocktails and cocktails alike. Belvoir Farm has created a line of Belvoir Elderflower cordial, while Absolut has created a Juice Pear and Elderflower beverage. These light and natural floral and botanical flavors are only expected to rise in popularity in 2022. 

These are just a sampling of the trends that we foresee. Think we missed a major one? Want to hear how these trends might impact innovation in your industry? Please don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Annette Herz

Annette is skilled at identifying growth opportunities and successfully guiding products from concept to launch. At Compass, she advises leading brands and category disruptors in the health & beauty, personal care and home appliance sectors.

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