Chefs are already looking ahead to what the new year may bring. Flavor-wise, restaurant customers are seeking bold and interesting takes on some of the comfort foods that got them through the pandemic, according to Dawn Foods’ recently released Flavor Trends report. Operators should be on the lookout for these six trends in 2022.
First up is a taste for every occasion: chocolate. Consumers are finding more ways to bring chocolate to life in their eating habits as they navigate times of high stress. North American chocolate sales are $20.7 billion annually and number two in the market globally, according to Dawn Foods. Whether black cocoa, gold chocolate, ruby chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate, this dessert-friendly flavor is likely to keep customers’ attention in the new year. According to Dawn Foods, 71 percent of North American consumers want to try new and exciting chocolate experiences.
Restaurants saw just how vital comfort foods were to customers while navigating a global pandemic. In fact, 45 percent of North American consumers agreed that products from the past are better than the ones available now. Customers are still looking for that sense of familiarity in treats, but with additional flavor twists. These flavor considerations could include S’mores, classic soda, birthday cake, peanut butter and jelly, cookies and cream, butterscotch, cotton candy, cookie butter, and salted caramel.
Alongside treats, guests might look for a greater experience of the senses via bold and spicy flavors. These flavors include cayenne, chipotle, anise, rosemary, basil, black pepper, whiskey, and smokey. Dawn Foods found a 35 percent 4-year menu growth in Sriracha and a 15 percent 4-year menu growth for whiskey. Herbs also hold something special for many consumers. Sixty-three percent said they love or like basil, and 48 percent said the same of rosemary.
Perhaps the least surprising finding during a pandemic is that consumers are embracing foods that carry an immune boost or health benefit. Dawn Foods found six out of 10 global consumers are increasingly looking for food and beverage products that support immune health. These foods include vitamin-rich fruit like citrus and berries, apple cider vinegar, dark chocolate, ginger, green tea, and turmeric. Menus may be updated with these findings in mind as 51 percent of consumers said they wished immunity-boosting foods and ingredients were an option at all restaurants. And almost a third of consumers are using functional food and beverages daily as a result of the pandemic.
Traditional morning beverages are also on the list of menu flavors restaurants could explore in 2022. These flavors can also be incorporated into desserts: latte, mocha, espresso, lavender, lemon, floral, chai, and pumpkin. There was a 21.7 percent 4-year menu growth for the latte flavor, 57.9 percent for lavender, and 27.8 percent for chai.
While the average consumer did little actual traveling during the pandemic, their taste buds are ready for some global exploration. These flavors include moringa, mochi, ginseng, turmeric, ginger, cacao, yuzu, and matcha. The entire global ethnic foods market is projected to witness a compound annual growth rate of 11.8 percent from 2020 to 2025. Overall, the trend is toward an adventure of global flavors. A third of consumers eat ethnic food at least once a week, and nearly a third are willing to pay more if it’s authentic.