‘Beyond the usual suspects’: Report scrapes social media to identify emerging trends

By Oliver Morrison contact

- Last updated on GMT

Foraged ingredients such as elderflower, seaweed and berries are capturing consumer imagination, said food data firm Tastewise. Image: Getty/ClarkandCompany
Foraged ingredients such as elderflower, seaweed and berries are capturing consumer imagination, said food data firm Tastewise. Image: Getty/ClarkandCompany

Related tags: social e-commerce, Social media, Tastewise, adaptogen, Functional food, Trends

Used by Nestlé, PepsiCo, Givaudan, Campbell’s, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Dole, and more, Tastewise, the AI-powered real-time food intelligence solution, is sharing the top consumer food and beverage trends for 2022.

Founded by former Google executive, Alon Chen, and former tech leader at SimilarWeb, Eyan Gaon, the solution predicts changing consumer needs based on over 78,000 restaurants and delivery menus, 20 billion social interactions, and 115,000 home recipes online.

“The way we order, cook, and eat is transforming in the face of a global pandemic, climate change, new technologies, and increased interest in health,”​ said Tastewise CEO Alon Chen. Ten years ago, affordability and taste were the sole top motivators behind the UK’s food and beverage choices, he said. “If it was tasty and good for the wallet, it was on the plate. Health - while always a consideration for some - has become a much more mainstream consideration in the interim, joining other demands like authenticity, aesthetic, and sustainability on the table.”

Tastewise’s latest report identifies the trends expected to make a big impact this year, beyond the ‘usual suspects’ that have been gaining major steam and attention in reporting over the past two years.

Sustainability is pivoting from packaging to ingredient sourcing

Consumer interest in sustainable food and beverage rose 12% last year, reckons Tastewise, based on its comprehensive social media scouring. But the focus is evolving away from the end of the product journey and refocusing on its beginning.

While conversation around product packaging is on the decline, claims around sustainable ingredient sourcing are growing fast with carbon footprint (+17% YoY), habitat conservation (+32% YoY) and regenerative farming (+46% YoY) all showing rapid growth.

This aligns with recent and continuing discussion around manufacturers’ responsibility to produce sustainably, and away from the consumer’s behavioral responsibility at the end of a product’s journey, such as recycling.

Around Asia: Regional cuisines

It’s no surprise that Brits like Asian food. But there’s growth in regional Asian cuisines, according to the report. There are therefore opportunities for food manufacturers to explore the tastes of Korean, Taiwanese, Malaysian and Filipino food.

Non-alcoholic buzz and bubbles

We know alcohol-free beers, gins, and cocktails are making waves in the market. However, non-alcoholic prosecco and champagne will be the next port of call for consumers, reckons Tastewise. Interest in alcohol-free sparkling wine rose 10% last year, it said.

Foraging for local flavour

While low-to-no alcoholic beverages are a growth space exciting the drinks sector, traditional alcoholic beverages are not sitting on their laurels. Here, foraged ingredients are capturing consumer imagination. Consumer interest in botanical ingredients in alcoholic beverages is growing at 17% on-year, said Tastewise. Foraged ingredients, notably elderflower, algae, seaweed and berries tick health and sustainability boxes and add distinct local flavour that premiumizes alcoholic beverages.

Adaptogens for functional health

Similarly, the perceived benefits on stress relief and brain function provided by adaptogens mean consumers are increasingly looking to incorporate them into home cooking, mainly hot drinks. Adaptogens in home cooking have risen 8% this year, said Tastewise. The inclusion of adaptogens such as reishi, cordyceps and ashwagandha on restaurant menus rose 17%.  

Florals and sensory intrigue 

Floral flavour profiles from the likes of Cherry blossoms: Elderflower, Orange blossom, can help add unique sensory intrigue to diverse dishes and drinks. Floral flavour profiles are growing +41% YoY in consumer interest, revealed Tastewise.

GettyImages malaysian food Edwin Tan
There are opportunities for food manufacturers to explore the tastes of Korean, Taiwanese, Malaysian and Filipino food, based on rising interest in these cuisines online. Image: Getty/Edwin Tan

Gourmet tackles sustainability

The world of gourmet cooking is no longer exclusively about indulgence. This exclusive world, too, is under scrutiny for its environmental impact, claimed Tastewise. Interest in sustainable food and beverage is rising 28% year-on-year for gourmet applications as ingredients typically associated with gourmet - like meat and seafood, alcohol, and desserts - undergo a sustainable revolution in their production practices, observed the trends report.

The intertwining of gourmet and sustainability makes sense, said Tastewise, when you consider chocolate and coffee are key ingredients in this landscape due to their links with fair trade; traditional production is in direct competition with rainforest preservation.

Similarly, the beer industry, though it is arguable if this belongs in the gourmet category, has been criticized for its impact on water sources, since water is both its primary ingredient and its largest waste by-product. Innovative beer brands are finding ways to limit their impact.

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