Mondelēz International Foodservice has identified the top trends expected to elevate the foodservice industry in 2022 and beyond.
When the pandemic emerged in early 2020, the entire foodservice industry faced fast and unexpected change. 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 will continue to shape foodservice as we head into 2022.
Here is a look at the top trends expected to impact foodservice in the next year:
* Social Responsibility on the Menu: When choosing where to spend their dining dollars, consumers will seek out brands that align with their personal values and beliefs1. In order to set themselves apart, operators will need to find ways to connect to their customers on an emotional level. Issues identified of increasing importance include reducing food waste, ethical sourcing and social justice.
* Advanced Automation and Advancement in Tech: Digital tools that allow for greater automation will be even more valuable to operational ease, especially as operators continue to face labor challenges. Operators should identify how automation can help better enhance their business needs and find ways to be efficient with increased takeout and delivery services.1 More than half of Gen Zers want automated/AI menu suggestions.2
* Innovative Takes on Classic Comfort Food: While comfort food will continue to be in high demand, many customers would like to see innovative new versions of classic dishes. No area is off limits when it comes to innovation opportunities2, which means operators can flex their culinary creativity when developing new recipes that play on nostalgic favorites.
* Expansion of Grab & Go in Noncommercial Foodservice: To-go and off-premises eating occasions are here to stay, making it more important than ever for noncomm operators to optimize offerings for this new normal. To keep customers coming back, operators should consider infusing retail-level speed, convenience and “craveability” into their service.3
* Reengaging Eatertainment: The consumer demand for the away-from-home experiences they’ve missed during the pandemic is growing every day.4 As we head into 2022, we can expect to see eatertainment venues promote family-friendly offers, new menu items, interactive games, and even virtual brands, as well as curbside, delivery.1
* Expansion of the Plant-Based Category: The comfort food craze that took hold in 2020 did nothing to stunt the growth of (or demand for) plant-based foods and ingredients. 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. This trend is particularly relevant among younger consumers, with nearly half of Gen Zers expressing a willingness to try plant-based meat.5
While many other changes have occurred as a result of the pandemic, these trends are expected to impact all areas of the industry in both the short and long term. Operators who are able to quickly adjust to these changes will benefit the most.
1. 2021 Midyear US Trends Update, Technomic, July 2021
2. What’s Next for Independent Restaurants, IFMA 2021
3. Planning Program, Technomic 2021
4. Consumer Food Trends: Consumer Appetite for Away-From-Home Experiences, Technomic June 2021
5. Manning, Lauren, “Food is Gen Z’s top spending priority, survey finds,’ Food Dive, April, 14, 2021