The entire foodservice industry
faced fast and unexpected change when the pandemic emerged in early 2020. Across segments, operators were forced
to rapidly adjust operations—initially to stay afloat and then ultimately succeed long term in this new industry
environment. Some of those quick-adapts have forever changed foodservice. Here are a few trends that are
expected to enhance and advance the industry in 2022 and beyond.
When choosing where to spend their dining dollars, consumers seek out brands that align with
their personal values and beliefs.1 From sustainability to social justice, today’s consumers want to
support ethically driven brands and operations.
of consumers agree it’s important to choose brands with values similar to their own when deciding where to dine.1
of consumers (especially Gen Z) say finding ways to reduce food waste is important for socially responsible restaurants.2
Connect with Consumers on an Emotional Level
These brands are putting real dollars behind their social responsibility initiatives.
Read more about consumer interest in the connection between personal and environmental health in Food Industry Trends: Ingredient Transparency & Sustainability.
Digital tools and applications proved to be huge assets in the early days of the pandemic as they facilitated
delivery, aided no- and low-contact interactions and promoted overall safety. In the first half of 2021,
operators rapidly expanded their digital technology to increase order speed.1 Going forward,
digital initiatives are expected to expand as delivery continues to earn a larger share of big chains’
sales.1 In addition, as operators continue to face labor challenges, digital tools that allow for greater
automation are proving to be even more valuable to operational ease.
of operators say they plan to increase technology budgets over the next two years.1
of Gen Zers want automated/AI menu suggestions, while 83% of boomers prefer human interactions.5
of operators believe automation attracts patrons, while 41% say it boosts employee morale.6
Increase Operational Efficiency with Automation
Read more about how technology is evolving operations in A Hearty Appetite for Automation: Top Restaurant Chains Tap Next-Gen Tech to Feed Sales
The desire for comfort food came roaring to the forefront in 2020. This trend for nostalgic eats and treats is showing no signs of slowing as we head into 2022 with 70% of consumers claiming they are “extremely or very likely” to purchase a nostalgic food or beverage.7
However, consumers now want new ways to enjoy old favorites.
of consumers continue to look forward to new food and beverage trends.8
wants innovative desserts and appetizers while millennials seek exciting burgers, sandwiches and other handhelds.5
of consumers say, to them, the term comfort food means “something I ate growing up.”7
Reimagine Classics into Cool Comforts
of consumers consider chocolate chip cookies the ultimate comfort food.7
To-go and off-premises eating occasions skyrocketed in the noncommercial space over the
last 18 months. This shift to grab-and-go is here to stay, making it more important than ever
for noncomm operators to optimize offerings for this new normal. And while noncomm
operations may begin to resemble their retail competition, each segment and unit has unique
nuanced knowledge of its consumer that will help it stay competitive.10
K-12 cafeterias need to menu more student-friendly grab-and-go options.10
B&I should highlight convenience, affordability and flexibility to stay competitive with outside options.10
Healthcare must continue to put safety first by sticking with prepackaged grab-and-go vs. communal salad bar.10
Keep Customers Coming Back for Grab-and-Go
See how you can reimagine your salad bar into a low-contact grab-and-go station.
The consumer demand for the away-from-home experiences they’ve missed during the
pandemic is growing every day.11 As we head into 2022, we can expect to see eatertainment
venues promote family-friendly offers, new menu items, interactive games as well as
curbside, delivery and even virtual brands.1
of consumers say they plan to visit eatertainment venues more than they have been, but still not as often as they did pre-pandemic.11
are much more likely to partake in eating occasions around others.12
Get Consumers to Entertain On-Premises Eating
The comfort food craze that took hold in 2020 did nothing to stunt the growth of (or
demand for) plant-based foods and ingredients. But plant-based today means so much more
than salad. The entire segment is taking huge strides forward with tasty innovations, analog
meats, vegan cheeses and other ingredients that give their meat-based counterparts a run
for their money.
of Gen Zers are willing to try plant-based meat.13
plant-based growth in 2020.14
of consumers look forward to new plant-based offerings in the next year.7
Easily incorporate plant-based packaged snacks into
your offerings with Enjoy Life single-serve snacks.
See all products here.
Cultivate Plant-Based Sales
1. 2021 Midyear U.S. Trends Update, Technomic, July 2021
2. Future of Global Cuisine Strong as Industry Recovers, Technomic Consumer Food Trends, April 2021
3. Kelso, Alicia, “Starbucks resurrects reusable cup program after pandemic hiatus,” Restaurant Dive, June 9, 2021
4. Kelso, Alicia, “Yum Brands commits to 46% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” Restaurant Dive, April 27, 2021
5. What’s Next for Independent Restaurants, IFMA 2021
6. DE Big Picture Factors Affecting Foodservice & Retail, June 2021; DE Simply Smarter, July 2021
7. Datassential 2021 Trends
8. Informa, Industry Overview May 2021
9. The Road to Recovery, Food & Foodservice After Covid-19, Datassential
10. Planning Program, Technomic 2021
11. Consumer Food Trends: Consumer Appetite for Away-From-Home Experiences, Technomic June 2021
12. Eating Occasions, The Hartman Group Spring 2021
13. Manning, Lauren, “Food is Gen Z’s top spending priority, survey finds,’ Food Dive, April, 14, 2021
14. Discovering the Next Chicken Sandwich, Datassential IFMA Marketing Sales 2021
15. Cobe, Patricia, “Plants continue to grow on menus,” Restaurant Business, 10 August 2021
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