3. Snacks go global
Would-be travelers stuck at home during the pandemic have been exploring foreign locations through snack foods. Regional cuisines from Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America have been gaining traction among U.S. consumers, and global ingredients are finding their way into snacks ranging from beverages to chips, Purcell says.“Food is such a great way to bring the world to you. And such an affordable way to have a really unique experience,” says Deutch, who recommends searching for international food products online to recreate flavors you miss from your travels. Think spicy Thai-style peanuts and Latin American-inspired ice cream flavors.
4. Peppers are hot
Long gone are the days of simply asking if something is “spicy or not spicy?” Now, there is a lot more nuance to how peppers are used in dishes and how they affect the taste buds. “For example, you can actually have distinct blends of crushed red-pepper flakes,” Deutsch says. “When I grew up, it was the crushed red-pepper flakes at the pizza shop. And you never even thought to ask, ‘What kind of peppers are these?’ ”Consumers are getting savvier when it comes to the range of peppers on the market, from the mildest bell pepper to the hottest ghost pepper. Seek out a range of budding products, including dried peppers, unique regional peppers and chili crisps, which are oil-infused chili condiments that contain bits of peppers, garlic or other aromatics. Add them to sautés, stews or soups.
5. Functional foods
Another outcome of the pandemic is that consumers are taking their immune system’s health more seriously. Instead of being limited to beauty supplies and pharmaceutical alternatives, many foods and beverages are incorporating so-called functional ingredients that claim to offer antiaging, immune-boosting and other health benefits. Examples of functional ingredients include turmeric, thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, and butterfly pea flower extract, which purportedly fights the effects of aging on skin and hair. “We’re seeing it in beverages, or we’re seeing it in dry cheese, loose cheese. We’re seeing it in chocolate and we’re seeing it in snacks,” Deutsch says. “So, you name it, and there’s a functional ingredient included in it.”
Current food trends that aren’t going away in 2022
Minimizing waste: Consumers are continuing to support sustainable brands that utilize leftover food products that would otherwise go to waste — a trend known as upcycling. Upcycled products include ready-to-drink beverages made from avocado seeds and vegetable broth concentrates made from hard-to-sell produce and scraps.
Bars for nondrinkers: Nonalcoholic spirits are helping teetotalers imbibe along with everyone else. Home bars can be stocked with no- to low-alcohol wines and mixers, while vitamin- and botanical-infused recovery shots and beverages can be alternatives to classic bar drinks.
Chocolate with a twist: Chocolate makers continue to appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth by creating confections in innovative shapes (hippos) and with unusual flavor combinations (decaf coffee).