You’ve made it through 2020, and now it’s time to get ready for 2022. Most of us rushed last year to deal with every new historic curveball thrown our way. Changes in supply chains, internet ordering, and new demands on local food systems characterised the year 2020 in the food and leisure industries. We also saw new pop culture fads emerge, such as sourdough obsessions, cottagecore.
While many are concerned about the year 2022, we now have almost a year of our new normal to learn from, allowing us to be more prepared for what lies ahead, both personally and professionally. In 2022, these are the top 7 trends that everybody working in the food and leisure sectors should be aware of.
According to recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, exhaustion, worry, and stress are restricting people’s interest in complex tastes. “Cognitive depletion diminishes consumer pleasure of complex-flavored (but not simple-flavored) meals,” the study’s authors write, concluding that “hedonic appreciation of food…varies with the degree to which consumers are mentally drained.”
This result is evident in recent food trends: sales of salty, familiar foods like potato chips are up, as are sales of sweet indulgences like chocolate—in the first few months of the epidemic, 90 percent of U.S. customers bought some sort of chocolate. In our autumn menu communications research sprints, Food for Climate League discovered similar results, with U.S. respondents leaning for familiar and concise food descriptions in particular.
Dunkin’ Doughnuts brought back its autumn staple pumpkin donuts and coffee many months early, recognising the demand for comfort and familiar tastes. According to Frito-annual Lay’s snacking index, 85 percent of customers believe that eating their favourite snacks helps them feel ‘normal,’ and almost half say that eating them makes them feel joyful.
“Simple meals with a single ‘flavour dimension’…don’t need as much mental activity or understanding as dishes with several taste components (such as sweet, salty, and bitter),” notes behaviour insights firm Canvas8 in their own investigation of “flavour fatigue.” They find that “the more intellectually exhausted a person is, the more difficult it is for them to enjoy more complex flavours.”
Because many of the stressors of 2022 are likely to persist in this new year—think: overwhelming personal health and safety concerns, economic strife, content overload, home schooling, and marches for equal rights—those in the food and beverage industry should focus on simple, approachable, and familiar flavours that will appeal to our emotionally overwhelmed world.
Mental health education
Prior to 2022, the globe has already seen record-high rates of anxiety, sadness, and loneliness, thanks in large part to the Millennial and Z generations, but our mental health was put to the test to a new level in 2022. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-in-four young individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 contemplated suicide in the spring of 2022 experienced anxiety or depression symptoms, and more than a quarter indicated the epidemic had caused trauma and stress-related illnesses.
Millennials and Gen Z understand that caring for one’s mental health is equally as essential as caring for one’s physical health, and talks about mental health are becoming more open and less stigmatised. Be it Chloe x Halle, Bilie Eilish, or Snap, some of the most prominent pop musicians and platforms of 2022 openly address mental health challenges.
Many people are turning to businesses to assist them lessen the weight after a year that tested our physical and emotional well-being. This implies that businesses must prioritise affinity over awareness. “People are seeking for mission-driven companies that can assist them navigate the current circumstances post-COVID,” says Emily Tang, Datassential’s VP of Innovation and Insights. “They’re drawn to businesses that have clearly defined goals and values, such as providing comfort, solving a problem, or combating current challenges.”
Table stakes for sustainability
Many assumed that, with our own health at danger, public interest on the climate catastrophe would decrease early in the pandemic. That forecast proved to be completely incorrect. The year 2022 was a watershed moment for the environmental movement. Plant-based food consumption has increased in the United States, and all indications are that this trend will continue in 2022.
According to a survey conducted by menu research firm Datassential in July 2022, 58 percent of Americans want to increase their consumption of plant-based foods, with 33 percent specifically wanting to increase their consumption of plant-based animal protein substitutes, with many claiming that plant-based eating is both healthier and better for the environment. According to the poll, 31% of people wish to cut down on their red meat consumption.
The epidemic has pushed the adoption of veganism on the other side of the Atlantic. According to Mintel, a fifth of British 21- to 30-year-olds believe the COVID-19 outbreak has made veganism more attractive to them. In fact, in an attempt to make Oxford more ecologically friendly, students voted last autumn to prohibit lamb and beef from most campus cafes.
People all across the globe have embraced many new sustainable eating patterns in the last year, such as wasting less food, which is one of the most effective ways to combat the climate issue. Many individuals have a new emphasis on making the most of what they have because of the quick change in supermarket availability. According to the FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends COVID-19 Tracker for the month of May, 51% of customers said they will be better in the future (than before the epidemic) about avoiding wasting food at home.
Clothing and home goods companies are launching new products with recycled, organic, circular materials, and hoteliers and cities are incorporating sustainability standards into their business models, demonstrating that the eco-conscious mindset has infiltrated the fashion, retail, and travel markets. Sensible Sustainable Solutions by Bensley, an open-source guide on integrating sustainable design into hotel architecture and interior design, won Skift Research’s 2022 Hospitality Innovation award.
In 2022, the notion of sustainable fashion, home goods, and travel will transition from a focus on what we buy to a focus on what we don’t buy, or where we don’t go in the case of travel. As a sustainability benefit, fashion manufacturers have started to stress their long-term wearability.
Reusable containers, bulk, and ethical sourcing are all being introduced by consumer packaged goods firms to reduce waste and, in some cases, cost. When it comes to tourism, certain places are emphasising the need of limiting the number of tourists each year in order to ensure the long-term viability of their city. Overtourism has been added to the list of issues about sustainable travel. Other concerns, such as fair pay and gender equality, are also discussed in the context of sustainability.