New year, new tidings and new trends. Not just any trend, we are talking about popular food trends. We are no strangers to the fact that food and beverages are taking the world by storm. There is always a new dish and a new drink to complement it, waiting around the corner. Before we shed some light on what 2022 may have in store for us, let's go back and recap the precedence that 2021 has already set. All the way from the confluence of different cuisines to getting nostalgic while trying out a special loved one's recipe, 2021 has been about exploring niche trends and bending the rules, while fixing a dish to make it exotic, memorable, instagrammable and what not. All of this simply brings us to the crux of this article: What can we expect in 2022?
With the changing times and a sharpened focus on the consequences of our eating patterns, plant-based foods—which have been steadily gaining currency—is set to reach new heights. Add to this a renewed interest in health, and suddenly, potato milk seems a lot more viable today. While larger food trends like nut-based mylks, plant-based meats and vegan alternatives are seeing new entrants (sunflower butter, anyone?), the foodscape in India seems to be going through a renaissance. Just take a look at the inundation of products in the market. From brands like Hello Tempayy providing an array of plant-based protein options, Imagine Meats, Wakao and Good Dot, making vegan meats right here on Indian soil, Soft Spot, Liveyumfoods.com specialising in vegan cheese alternatives and WhiteCub, Papa Cream and Urban Platter that are bringing a range of plant-based/vegan condiments to the fore—one thing is clear: this is no longer a trend, but a way of life.
Getting drunk and suffering from a hangover is so 2017. With healthy lifestyles gaining a new focus, mocktails and low or 0 ABV (Alcohol by Volume) drinks are now on the rise. This follows, since the alt-cult of 'Sober Curiosity' seems to be having its time in the sun with GenZ. What is it? Simply abstaining from alcohol. And as this gains momentum, the beverages' industry is all up in arms to appeal to consumers from the said cohort. Svami, for instance, has released variants like Gin & Tonic and Rum & Cola that are alcohol-free. Apart from this we also have modish brands like Kati Patang with variants like NOT Cosmopolitan and NOT Old Fashioned. Coolberg and &Stirred have a range of flavoured non-alcoholic beers and premixed mocktails like Hibiscus Cosmo and Mexican Mule, respectively. Even famous brands in the alcohol sector like Kingfisher, Heineken and Budweiser have understood the assignment and released alcohol-free beers. Restaurants too have joined the movement by adding more mocktail variants to their menus to keep up with the trend.
While Korean movies and music numbers took over our screens, Korean cuisine began assembling its own set of fans across the world. K-Cuisine is simply full of colours, textures and the flavoursome convergence of sweet, savoury and spicy. Rapidly appealing to the masses, Korean instant foods (Buldak, Chapaguri) are now a fairly common sight in supermarkets. While these are quick fix snacks, the Korean style of cooking is also seeping into the restaurant space, with several menus offering everything from Korean-style fried chicken to Gochujang-laced appetisers. Korean condiments too, have since seen an exceptional increase in condiments exports (as cited in The Korean Herald) all over the world. At this point it's not a mystery that the flavour and balance of spice is what makes K-cuisine so special and it's set to reach new heights in 2022.
Comfort foods are our greatest stress busters, all the way from making them to eating. However, lately, the paradigm of comfort foods has shifted. Social media has brought to our attention that bending the rules while fixing a dish can lead to so many possibilities. We have quick fixes, easy and three-ingredient recipes, and this is only for the amateurs. For the experienced we have gourmet style recipes, fusion, exotic and the list has no end. While chefs like Manish Mehrotra and Amninder Sandhu turned towards simple Indian food, like mathri and mutton curry respectively, for comfort; chefs like Urvika Kanoi and Hanisha Singh breathed new life into all-time favourites like burgers, pasta and taco with their brands Chard Burgers and Cafe Duco, respectively.
This year we believe individuals are going to opt for a low-wastage and more sustainable diet. Danone, a multinational food company, recently opted to reduce wastage by making use of discarded fruits in their yoghurt. People are actively making conscious decisions to compost food waste rather than simply trashing it. Restaurants, brands and chefs are finding new ways to put leftovers to use—either by storing it for the next day, using it as an ingredient for another dish or simply, donating it to the less privileged. Plural, a restaurant in Mumbai, chooses to follow a closed-loop system, where after produce is procured the discarded portions are used as vegetable stock and citrus peels are used in cordials for cocktails. Apart from this we also have restaurants like Yogisattva, Delhi Accent, Sequel, Masque and Greenr Cafe that are playing an active role in reducing their carbon footprint.
While spices are always going to be the fundamental unit of Indian cuisine, let's take a moment and talk about the number of condiments that have entered the market. Since the pandemic, people have rushed back to the kitchen with a new gusto and that could be the catalyst behind this trend. This is now visible in the rise of products that focus on making cooking at home easier. From older brands like Native Tongue and Nomad Food Project that have caused positive disruption with intriguing condiments like alubukhara preserve and bacon thechas respectively; to newer ones such as Chutney Collective (helmed by ex-O Pedro sous chef Velton Saldanha) and Wonder Foods and Farms that are helping us upgrade our pantry with delectable options for spread, pastes and ready-to-cook sauces. Even brands like Ishka Farms that focussed mostly on ingredients like capers and moringa are now joining hands with chefs like Divesh Aswani of the Commis Station to release unique condiments like black garlic caper spread and a truly delightful sofrito.
Snacks are the new meals. And while people prefer to indulge in snacks, they are also making the decision to indulge sensibly. A survey listed in India Today mentions a rise from 12% to 20% in the past year, for clean snacks as post-Covid, individuals prefer to consume healthier alternatives to regular munchies and at frequent intervals instead of having three square meals a day. From protein bars to oatmeal cookies, many Indian brands have ventured into healthy snacking territories. To Be Honest and The Green Snack Co's healthy chips, Snackible's bars, nibbles and namkeens, Ketofy's snack packs, Monsoon Harvest's gourmet munchies and Soulfull's cereals. One thing is for sure: snacking will never look the same.
It looks like 2022 has a whole lot to offer and this list just barely covers it. However, if it is anything to judge by, the food and beverage industry in 2022 is going to pull out all the stops to make things more interesting and exciting.
Natasha Kittur is an aspiring writer. Her love for anything with cheese and spice is profound, but a white sauce pasta always tops her list. In her free time you will catch her reading or watching crime books and shows or go on and on about psychological experiments and theories. She aims to write a book in the fictional genre someday.