Every year I summarize prediction lists from different publications. I usually just summarize tech predictions, but this year I did restaurants and food too. I hope this is interesting and helpful. Please see the list of sources for all of these predictions with hyperlinks below.
1 Restaurants will have to recover and reboot. (a)
They’ll need to do more with less due to supply and labor shortages. More orders, more revenue with smaller menus, store footprints, but better individual food quality.
2. Restaurant workers are demanding more. (i)
To win the competition for talent, restaurants will provide more support for workers including a focus on training, culture, and career progression.
3. Restaurants will need to elevate the consumer experience. (a)
They’ll need to offer more immersive, interactive, and memorable experiences that work harder to tie consumers to brands offline and online.
4. Sustainability concerns are growing. (a)
Increases in to-go orders have put waste in the spotlight. Sustainable packaging is essential.
5. Restaurants must rethink the bar. (a)
Low and non-alcoholic drinks are growing in popularity, as are “wellness” and “palate cleaner” drinks.
6. Supply chain issues will persist for restaurants and consumers throughout 2022. (i)
Consumers will eventually react to price hikes and that will drive a further spike in off-premise sales as consumers look to save where they can – beverages, tips, babysitters.
7. The global flavor wave has arrived. (a)
Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Dominican, Greek, West African, Asian. These cuisines, made with easily accessible ingredients, transport people to exotic places at a time when travel is desired but limited. Think flavors like hibiscus, yuzu, turmeric, kelp, gochujang and ube.
8. Plant-based foods will dominate the news in 2022. (b)
Lentils, vegan eggs, beef proxies, vegan fried chicken, vegan breakfast sandwiches, technical advancements married with strong consumer demand and wellness concerns fueled by the pandemic mean that plant based proteins are here to stay.
9. New flavor and ingredient combinations are trending. (b)
Safe experimentations — introducing some new ingredients, flavors, or cuisines, while also drawing on the familiar, creates excitement and experience for the consumer while also anchoring them in something they already like or love. Think global street food. Pick a common platform like meatballs and rotate that item around the globe for seasonal LTOs.
10. Healthy and immunity boosting foods are hot. (b)
With health and wellness concerns foremost in consumer minds, seeds, berries, olive oil, dark chocolate, and immunity boosting snacks are all trending.
11. Street food inspired dishes are trending. (b)
Kebabs, bibimbap, gyros, arepas. Consumers are exploring variety as an escape for limited routines resulting from the pandemic.
12. Technology will be key for restaurants. (i)
Tech will increasingly be leveraged by restaurant operators to drive top and bottom line growth, particularly as more and more integrations of systems occur.
13. Sunflower butter and safer nut butters are growing in popularity. (c)
Substitutes due to allergies are growing. Ben & Jerrys has released ice cream flavors such as Creme Brulée Cookie, and Mint Chocolate Cookie made with sunflower butter.
14. Potato milk is growing in popularity. (c)
Made from boiled potatoes, this milk picks up steam globally.
15. Direct to consumer tech will power more transactions. (i)
As restaurants seek to diversify and control more of the consumer experience, direct-to-consumer will grow in popularity among restaurant operators.
16. Espresso martinis and other combinations are hot. (c)
The 90’s trend of eclectic martinis has been reinvented and is making a strong comeback.
17. 1980’s cocktails are making a comeback. (d)
1980’s culture is hot, in part driven by a retro craze on social platforms. Such drinks as Amaretto Sour and Long Island Iced Tea are growing in popularity.
18. Nostalgia is hot. (d)
Such items as Dunkaroos, Bagel Bites, Lunchables, Uncrustables, Cheez Balls, and fun cereals are making a big comeback as consumers crave familiarity and continuity driven by the pandemic.
19. Beauty from the inside out. (e)
Consumers are spending more time at home and in front of mirrors, driving a fixation on foods that not only make you feel better, but look better too.
20. Superfood lattes are hot. (e)
People are looking for more functional foods, and when it comes to coffee they’re looking for more than just a “caffeine buzz” — but also coffee drinks that support wellness. Think turmeric latte.
21. Retail and restaurants will continue to blur. (i)
C-stores may become an instant national micro-fulfillment and ghost kitchen network based on their ideal locations.
22. Kelp & seaweed are hot. (e)
Searches for “seaweed” foods and recipes grew significantly in 2021 and into 2022.
23. Seafood is now an everyday thing. (e)
Seafood used to be an occasional treat but now as meats have become more costly, salmon and other seafoods are growing in popularity and consumption.
24. Picky consumers are getting pickier. (f)
More health aware consumers means more selective consumers.
25. All is calm. (f)
Foods and supplements that “promote calm, relaxation, and stress reduction” are growing in popularity. Examples include vitamins and botanicals such as lavender, ashwagandha, valerian, and chamomile.
26. No fuss home cooking is in high demand. (g)
Products and services that make at-home cooking easier, such as pre-prepared meals and recipe planners, are growing in popularity.
27. Consumers care more about packaging. (h)
Consumers want to receive delivery food in sustainable packages that remain intact, are zero waste, retain temperature, and are tamper proof.
28. Mushroom beverages and mushrooms as a whole are trending. (h)
Mushroom dishes and mushrooms used to augment other dishes, including beverages, are growing in popularity.
29. Breakfast is becoming more important to restaurants. (j)
Breakfast service has long been considered an expensive yet less profitable service, when compared to lunch or dinner. The average check is low and labor costs are high. With technology helping operators manage the labor side of operations, we will see breakfast offerings expand, making the day part of the business more profitable for operators and providing more options to customers.
30. Breakfast salads. (h)
Salads for breakfast are growing in popularity. Cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, and eggs added to salads are all growing.
31. Bone broth cocktails are hot. (h)
Health and wellness concerns are driving innovation involving bone broth including Sweet & Sour Toddy, Bone and Bacon, savory and even meat cocktails.
32. Carbonated coffee is hot. (h)
Fizzy cold brew is becoming a new and interesting trend.
33. Seafood meatballs are gaining popularity. (h)
A desire for variety combined with rising meat costs is driving this trend.
34. Breakfast cookies are becoming more popular. (h)
Healthy cookies with nuts, berries, and granola are hot.
35. Canned wine is becoming more popular. (h)
Canned wine conveys convenience, affordability and novelty.
36. Grain bowls are becoming more popular. (h)
Healthy grain bowls convey wellness, affordability and nostalgia.
37. Chicken and beef cuts that are less expensive. (h)
Due to supply chain challenges, chicken thighs and less popular meat cuts are growing in popularity.
38. Upscale potato chips and fries are growing in popularity. (h)
A consumer drive for more variety means they’re seeking interesting flavors and textures in common items such as potato chips and fries. Think Furikake, sa’atar, sumac, etc.
39. Alternative sweeteners are growing in popularity. (h)
Consumers are looking for healthier alternatives to pure sugar. Think maple syrup, agave, and coconut sugar.
40. Alcohol and CBD desserts are growing in popularity. (h)
Consumers are seeking indulgence and variety and this is translating into greater appeal for alcohol and CBD infused desserts.
Prediction Sources: Restaurant Business Online, Delivering The Digital Restaurant, Modern Restaurant Management, Lentils, Delish, NY Times, Eating Well, Institute of Food Technologists, Bake Magazine, National Restaurant Association
Paul Allen is a seasoned business leader and entrepreneur with over 25 years experience spanning technology sales, marketing, and product development with teams at Intel, Motorola, Adobe, Autodesk, the States of Connecticut, Colorado, Ohio and dozens of technology startups. He has been a founder, investor, and board member of numerous venture-backed technology companies and led two tech startup accelerators, including one backed by Dan Gilbert, founder, and chairman of Quicken Loans.