Food trends 2022 that could dominate our plates: Vegan foods, clean eating, ready-to-eat pouches and more

We spoke to industry experts about food trends that could dominate our plates in 2022

The twists seen in the last two years can compete with any soap opera. While there has been an impact on the food industry, certain things are definitely still being spoken regularly. Therefore, we look into food trends that will create a sensation in 2022.

Lindsay Bernard Rodrigues, CEO & Co-Founder, The Bennet and Bernard Company, accepts that people are looking for a bright and cheery 2022. “After witnessing the shutdowns, the F&B industry is getting back to its feet by adopting means to adhere to the new normal. The eating habits of Indian consumers have been evolving — from traditional foods to global food flavours. There is a paradigm shift in food consumption from junk to healthy food. One's probably looking at the component of the food. There's an equation people are trying to draw from those countless blogs they've read through. It is all in good intent and to make more informed decisions.”

Chef Viraf Patel, Director Operations, Independence Brewing Company, echoes similar sentiments as Rodrigues’s. “The uncertainty of pandemic has shifted the mindset of people to a new food moment. What we will take to 2022 is a more conscious approach to cooking. We will look at more effective ways of saving money as the pandemic has taught us a lot about that.”

Chef Narender Singh, Corporate Chef, Sarovar Hotels and Resorts Bangalore, feels 2021 food trends focussed more on wellness and improving our health and our planet’s too. “It is going to be more of classical cuisine, organic food, farm-to-table and mental health cooking,” he shares.

Chef Arvind Rai, Corporate Executive Chef, The Ashok, New Delhi, has seen a shift towards technology at a faster rate. “Whether a small food joint or a 5-star restaurant, all have started accepting various modes of payment and are not afraid to try. People can access the food and bar menu through just a scanner on their phones. The digitisation method has made the system accessible in the restaurant industry.”

For Chef Tanmoy Savardekar, Studs Sports Bar & Grill, Mumbai, the chaotic lockdown and restrictions scenario has seen plentiful deliveries, DIY Kits and food consumption in safe conditions.

“People stepped out when unlocks were issued. But we were very sceptical when outdoors. Street food scenario was never hit and enjoyed by that class that wanted to enjoy it. Restaurants went through rigorous takes to pull in people with offers throughout. With the sudden change in the virus situation, the food industry has to change as it faces new norms,” Chef Savardekar adds.

What’s expected

Influencers: Chef Patel feels that influencers will have a better audience and hold compared to old school media, thanks to technological gains and our dependency on it. “Influencers who are trusted by their community and followers will express their (now powerful) opinion and will affect the decision of consumers to a great extent. Influencers will, in turn, constantly be reminded that with power comes responsibility.”

Superfoods for mental health: Chef Singh says mental health will remain in the spotlight even in 2022. “It means cooking with superfoods that can boost your mood, fight depression, soothe anxiety and support your overall mental health.”

Food trucks: Chef Tanmoy sees mobile food units reach people. “It makes it less of a hassle for people to travel. People can see food being made and have multiple choices.”

Breakfast: Rodrigues reveals, “The choices have become diverse. Food lovers can try the English breakfast, salads, sandwiches, pancakes, crepes, baker's delights and high proteins specials to satisfy our satiating taste buds.”

Clean eating: Clean eating isn’t a diet, but rather a way of eating that emphasises the quality of the foods you eat, not how much you eat or when you eat, says Chef Rai. Long before the days of processed foods, pesticides, hormones and GMOs, people ate food directly from the source with minimal processing—that is outside of cooking. Clean eating allows you to take back control of what you put into your body.

Vegan food: Chef Singh reveals, “The popularity of vegan food has been slowly gaining momentum in India. People started exploring more vegan food options.”

Home chef: “This has renowned chefs catering from their homes. The food is cooked in a cleaner environment. And the chef is trusted by many,” discloses Chef Tanmoy.

Artisanal products: These unique products will use traditional methods and tools and follow a recipe rich in history. “It doesn’t come with preservatives, colourants, sweeteners, thickeners, or other chemicals. They are made locally from traceable ingredients. It establishes provenance is a key aspect of such products,” suggests Rodrigues. “The health benefits of artisanal food products are many.”

Chef Singh sees a rise and focus on conscious cooking, like trying to understand which oil to use in a particular food.

Ready-to-eat pouches: An often seen option, Chef Tanmoy thinks this now will be an unwinding scenario for a household. “They are just to be heated and consumed. Major food companies are coming out with different dishes in this sector.”

Fresh and local: Chef Patel sees quite a few avoiding or reducing their carbon footprint. “It has definitely become a more personal consideration versus a consideration that only companies and importers needed to pay attention to. Customers will consume more foods from local and surrounding areas, rather than those brought in from destinations overseas.”

DIY kits: According to Chef Tanmoy, open sterilised portioned food packets that one can assemble/cook at home will be safer trends. “Pizzas will be a major hit,” he says.

Local and regional food: There will be a focus on local and regional food. “2020 and 2021 saw a huge gain in terms of local and regional cuisine being sold in brick and mortar spaces. Having lost our ability to travel as often, customers will crave cuisines from across the world, which would otherwise have been a flight away,” says Chef Patel.

Chef Rai calls sustainable, local and regional food. “There is a wholesome emphasis on it by chefs themselves. People have become aware of food and nutrition like never before in history. This will continue beyond 2022.”

Love for experimenting

Rodrigues mentions the shift to high-quality foods. “These can be seafood-rich meals and meats like quail and turkey, becoming a bigger part of diets. Yoghurts, green teas, and other infused teas are a great everyday choice; that one should look at experimenting with. Over the last decade, education and current health statistics had already begun this journey to be more conscious of what you were adding to the human system. The pandemic jolt has speeded up the fence-sitters to get more serious about what is consumed. It is ideal to give our body the best of nourishment.”

Chef Patel feels the humble potato will be the star once more. “The spud in its various forms will shine one again with potato milk becoming a thing. It is simply the extraction of a cloudy and starchy liquid from cooked potatoes. Being zero dairy, cholesterol and fat, it's vegan and packs more calcium than dairy milk. I'm going to look keenly into this trend.”