Reinventing the norm while staying creative and flexible are central themes of 2022. We’re tracking trending concepts to help you push the boundaries of menu innovation, so you can change up proteins and flavors, utilize what’s available, and discover new, delicious ways to engage your customers.
Comfort Food vs. Newest Trend
In 2022, we will see conflicting trends driving menu ideation. Consumers will be searching for comfort foods that remind them of days gone by, especially in the dessert category. They’ll also be looking for the newest food trends as seen on TikTok and similar platforms. Social media will also increase the speed and distance that food ideas can travel.
Good for the Planet & Good for You
As consumers continue to prioritize taking care of the planet, they’ll support restaurants that reflect their values. Highlight dishes and ingredients that are plant-based, sustainable, upcycled, low carbon footprint, or are ethically raised and sourced. Demonstrating that you value these concepts will help customers feel aligned with your brand and more inclined to invest in your business. Find inspiration for zero-waste cooking and more of these concepts at this link.
Recycle the Present, Save the Future
Also at the top of 2022 environmental-related trends along with zero waste cooking, is sustainable, reusable, and recyclable packaging. This has become a priority for consumers as off-premise dining grows in demand. Customers want it all; packaging that keeps their food hot and intact yet doesn’t harm the environment. Providing options will ensure a more satisfying dining experience for take-out diners.
Top Trending Global Flavors
Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines were cited by the National Restaurant Association as the top regions influencing flavors on menus in 2022.
As consumers crave familiar-yet-new fare, serve Mexican comfort food including next-level quesadillas and taquitos to birria-inspired burgers.
The Spice Is Right
Spicy flavors from across the globe are getting even hotter in 2022. Experiment with global hot sauces and seasonings like:
- Korean Gochujang
- Argentinian Chimichurri
- Mexican Tajín
- Moroccan Harissa
- Japanese Furikake
- Indonesian Sambal
Plant Based Keeps Growing
Look out for the continuation of the plant-based trend with these meat-free proteins showing up in sandwiches, breakfast items, and burgers. They are increasingly popular due to animal protein shortages and because of their aura of eco-friendliness and healthiness. Supply shortages are also causing less-expensive traditional proteins to trend such as chicken thighs vs. wings and beef chuck vs. loin. The next frontier in the plant-based space? Seafood.
Nut milks are topping beverage trends with other alternative milks also gaining momentum. Increasing concern for animal welfare is driving popularity for cashew, pistachio, and the familiar almond milk. Milks from alternative substances, such as potatoes are also on the rise as a way to use leftover scraps from cooking and adhere to the zero-waste trend.
Menus have evolved significantly since the pandemic. Enhance your dining experience and boost your bottom line with this modern menu inspiration:
- Labor and supply chain constraints demand smaller menus that are easy to execute and change. Smaller menus offer operators an opportunity to improve forecasting and boost profit margins.
- Digital menus and orders continue to flourish. Ordering via QR codes, kiosks, handheld devices, and websites will become commonplace.
- Remote work is here to stay; reflect this in your business model through remote ordering options, top-quality packaging, takeout meals and meal kits, and delivery.
- To maximize the space of restaurants that still have capacity restraints, offer midweek specials to drive traffic on off -peak days.
To learn more about trends and restaurant solutions, view Sysco Foodie Magazine.