The pandemic has brought about some irreversible changes in customer preferences. The confinement of customers to their homes caused many to become health focused. This has in turn impacted restaurant menus with some brands looking for sustainable practices, while others are looking for mood-focussed and immunity-boosting ingredients. These changes will be expected to bring up new restaurant menu trends in 2022.
6 Restaurant Menu Trends To Look Forward To In 2022
The most popular cuisines that are anticipated to rule the kitchens are Southeast Asian, Caribbean and South American. Now, let us look at some of the global restaurant menu trends for the upcoming year.
1. Plant-based Foods Or Vegan
In present times, around 4 billion people live primarily on a plant-based diet. COVID-19 has further pushed the growth of meat and dairy alternatives. As per Statista, the global vegan market was valued at close to USD 16 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9% till 2025. This clearly shows that the vegan trend is on the rise.
It is important to note that vegan products are not only in demand among the vegan population but also the flexitarian population trying to cut down on meat consumption. However, the truth is that a large chunk of the general population has already permanently converted to veganism. Plant-based sandwiches for breakfast, burgers, and other vegan snacks, dips, sauces and creamery as well as grain-based bowls will witness significant growth this year.
Moreover, the plant-based meat industry may also gain popularity due to the creation and distribution of meat substitutes tasting like real meat. With the aid of urban farming, it is now possible to procure more sustainably-grown hyper-local produce.
2. Immunity-Boosting Ingredients
Also known as ‘functional ingredients’, immunity-boosting ingredients are getting significantly popular, post-pandemic. The concept of herd immunity has led people to collectively consume functional foods. Now that everyone is becoming increasingly health-conscious, functional ingredients are being used in snacks, dips, desserts, and even drinks. In fact, functional drinks like Poppi infused with prebiotics, fruits, berries, herbs, and organic ingredients will benefit heart health, gut health and boost immunity.
3. Alternative Sweeteners
As more people have become health-conscious, and are trying to lose weight, they have started exploring low-calorie food options. Sugar alternatives are quite beneficial for diabetics and those going through weight loss procedures. Low-sugar snacks, maple sugar, and coconut sugar having relatively fewer calories are set to be major ingredients in sweetened snacks and desserts.
4. CBD Infusions
With the rising demand for healthy food and Cannabidiol (CBD) continuously proving its potential in regards to health benefits, restaurants are likely to go for CBD as a major ingredient in their menu items. With CBD going legal in many countries, it is a trend that is likely to clock in, in further years. CBD infused snacks, desserts and beverages are increasingly in demand and are expected to take over the menu as restaurateurs decide to explore the ingredients’ potential.
5. Flexitarian Food
Another trend is likely to come up is the trend of flexitarian food. ‘Flexitarian’ refers to the pool of people who want to reduce their meat consumption but are not willing to turn completely vegan. A large chunk of the population is now cutting down on meat and switching to alternatives. This is pretty evident from the report by Global Data, which states that 70 percent of the population is ditching meat and moving towards meat alternatives. Keeping animal welfare and environmental impacts in mind, people have changed their food purchasing decisions.
Restaurants are likely to have flexitarian menus the following year containing plant-based items as well as meat items, but only of premium quality. Popular items are going to be available with a mix of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian ingredients. For instance, burgers with a mix of both; meat patty and vegetables.
6. Comfort Food
Comfort food is also expected to enter restaurants’ menus in 2022. In times of uncertainty, it is quite natural to find solace in comfort food. Customers find it a liberating experience to eat comfort food and they continue to consume it long after the commencement of COVID-19. Ingredients high in calories, like fried chicken and cheese are expected to be used by restaurants to provide a comforting experience to their customers. Comfort can also be brought by ingredients like ginger or turmeric noodle broth highly depending on customer preferences.
The conclusion is that the change in the global restaurant industry brought about by the pandemic will drive the eating habits of customers in 2022. Therefore, it is recommended that you put the trending items on your menu and utilize the most popular ingredients in the time to come.