Looking Forward: Food & Beverage Trends for 2022

January 3, 2022
Fall Trends Innovation

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It’s been yet another unordinary year for consumers. With COVID cases still looming, new variants, and work-from home still in effect for many, consumers and food and beverage developers alike endured new challenges and changes. But, in great change came great opportunity and innovation. The pandemic has increased importance for health and wellness while also fostering a need for self-care and feel-good treats that allow consumers to relax and indulge. From immune system health to natural food and beverage, indulgence and more, we’re taking a look at what’s most important in consumers’ food and beverage purchases in this still challenging and changing time. Our team of marketing experts has tapped into consumers to see what’s top of mind to help us determine what’s next in food and beverage trends for 2022. We conducted a survey asking consumers to rate their interest in key trends in the industry and will be sharing with you the top four trends consumers are most interested in. Let’s dive in and see where your brand can capitalize.

Consumers’ Key Interests

We surveyed 1,000 consumers with 50% being male and 50% being female with a goal to determine what topics below were most important to consumers as it relates to food and beverage products.

“As it relates to the food, beverage & healthcare products that you consume and purchase for your family, what is most important to you. Please place the items listed below in order of importance for you.”

Top 4 Responses

  1. Immune System Health

  2. Sugar Reduction - Reducing sugar in food and beverage products

  3. Natural - Natural in food and beverage

  4. Indulgence & comfort foods

Let’s take a look at what our consumers had to say about these top four topics of interest.

Even more to come! Stay tuned for more in-depth insights on these topics throughout the year!

Immune System Health

The past two years shed a spotlight on the importance of immune system health to prevent illness and promote wellbeing. In fact, following the emergence of the pandemic, product launches with an immunity claim rose 18% in the 12 months after the pandemic compared to the 12 months before according to data from Innova Database.

In addition, 86% of consumers agree that eating healthy is important for a strong immune system. Brands can simplify the search for wellness by developing great tasting products with added immunity benefits. (Mintel)

Below is what our consumers had to say about their attempts to boost immunity.

Consumer Actions to Boost Immunity:

What actions are you currently taking to boost your immunity? Select all that apply

Top 5 Responses:

  1. Increased consumption of Vitamins & Supplements

  2. Consuming more fruits & vegetables

  3. Exercising regularly

  4. Try to get a good night sleep

  5. Taking prebiotics and probiotics

Top Rated Flavors

for the inclusion in an immune boosting food and/or beverage product

  1. Mandarin Orange

  2. Tangerine

  3. Tangerine Citrus

  4. Cherry Berry

  5. Topical Citrus Punch

Products of Note:

Wolo Lemon Cake Dessert Oasis Bar is described as a portable snack bar packed with special nutrition. The product features turmeric, vitamin C and zinc to boost the immune system on the road, and is high in protein to keep one strong.

39% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Langers ImmunBoost 100% Juice Blend from Concentrate contains orange, lemon, ginger, turmeric, zinc and folic acid. The product features vitamin C, turmeric, vitamin A, magnesium and zinc which have shown to be important for supporting the immune system.

42% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Sugar Reduction

Consumers across demographics are becoming more conscious of the amount of sugar they consume, and they’re taking measures to reduce their intake or consume healthier alternatives. In fact, 41% of females and 35% of males in our survey said they would like to reduce their sugar intake. On the other hand, 30% of females and 33% of males say they have a healthy relationship with sugar.

Although they search to improve their health through reducing their consumption, consumers still want great taste and the same sweetness in their products. Food and beverage developers can find opportunity in offering products with sweetener alternatives that have less calories, provide a nutritional benefit or are natural.

Take a look at what our consumers had to say about their Sugar Consumption:

Top Consumer Actions for Limiting Overall Sugar In-Take:

  1. Drinking water instead of caloric beverages

  2. Eliminating certain foods/beverages

  3. Using the nutrition facts panel to choose items with less sugar

For food and beverage brands, there is opportunity in offering flavorful low or no calorie options for consumers especially in the beverage space. Clear and prominent labels to promote low sugar products may also entice consumers looking to reduce their consumption. Flavor solutions, including taste modifiers and maskers, can often help with any negative taste impacts that may accompany sugar reduction or non-nutritive sweeteners.

Top Sweeteners Used by Consumers:

  • Cane Sugar

  • Honey

  • Sucrose

  • Raw Sugar

  • Stevia-based

Products of Note:

Skippy Chunky No Sugar Added Peanut Butter Spread is said to be made with three simple ingredients, provide 7g of protein per serving, and is said to be a good source of vitamin E. The product has 2g of total sugars and includes 0g of added sugar.

60% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Häagen-Dazs Heaven Peanut Butter Chip Light Ice Cream comprises vanilla light ice cream a swirl of creamy peanut butter and satisfying crunch of chocolate chips. The product contains 25% less sugar than regular ice cream.

47% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Natural in Food & Beverage

On trend with consumer’s search for health and wellness is their interest in natural food and beverage products. Out of 1,000 consumers, half said they agreed to at least some degree tat they are willing to pay for products that are “all-natural.” In addition, half agreed or strongly agreed that natural claims are clean label. We’ve seen natural in food and beverage make its way onto product labels cross-category catered to demographics of a wide variety.

We completed a survey with 1,000 consumers, 50/50 male/female with and average age of 42 years old. Here’s what our consumers had to say:

  • 56% of consumers agree that they are willing to pay more for products with “recognizable ingredient lists.”

  • 52% of consumers agree that natural flavors are clean label

  • 52% of consumers agree that they are willing to pay more for products with “no artificial ingredients”

  • 50% of consumers agree that they are willing to pay more for products that are “all-natural”

Consumers rated the flavor families below for how natural they perceived them to be. Fruit, citrus and floral families ranked high on perceived naturalness, while indulgent and fantasy flavors were perceived as not natural.

Natural Flavor Families

  • Orchard Fruit (apple, pear)

  • Herbs (basil, rosemary, mint)

  • Citrus

  • Stone Fruit (peach, cherry, plum)

  • Exotic (dragonfruit, kiwi)

  • Floral/Botanicals (lavender, hibiscus)

Products of Note:

Chobani Probiotic Blueberry Pomegranate Daily Yogurt Drink is said to provide multi-benefit probiotics for immune health; digestive health; and gut health. The grade A low fat yogurt has nothing artificial, and is free from gluten, preservatives and GMO ingredients

43% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Wild Basin Boozy Sparkling Water Mix Pack comprises of classic lime; cucumber peach; melon basil; and lemon agave hibiscus flavors. The gluten and sugar free product does not contain artificial ingredients and is all naturally flavored.

42% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Indulgence & Comfort Foods

With another challenging year in the books, consumers interest in indulgence and comfort foods is no surprise. Consumers are searching to treat themselves as a form of self-care whether through classic indulgences or more permissible and healthy indulgences.

We surveyed 1000 consumers with 50/50 male; female split between the ages of 18-73 years old.

Top-rated Indulgence Flavors:

Consumers rated a list of flavors from extremely indulgent to not at all indulgent. The flavors below rose to the top.

  • Cheesecake

  • Hot Fudge Sundae

  • Chocolate Truffle

  • Chocolate Éclair

  • Birthday Cake

Interestingly, we’ve spotted a huge shift over time for consumers preferred type of indulgence. For 2021, each type of indulgence is almost equal in our survey results, showing an overall opportunity for indulgent flavors in the food and beverage space.

Products of Note:

Oui Layered Dessert Caramel Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crust Cream Dessert is naturally flavored and contains other natural flavors. Each serving contains 300 calories per jar.

49% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Milk Chocolate & Caramel Flavored Drizzlers have been added to the range. The product is described as thin, crunchy pretzel snacks with the delicious flavors of caramel and milk chocolate for just the right amount of sweet indulgence.

61% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

The Takeaways

Food and beverage developers can find much opportunity in developing innovative products that fit in these trends, but regardless of consumer interest, at the end of the day, flavor is critical in your product success. In fact, a recent report from Hartman Group finds that taste is consumers' top selection driver when choosing which food and beverage products to buy. Immune system health, sugar reduction, natural food and beverage and indulgence and comfort foods are all top of mind for consumers today – the question is, where does your brand fit in? We’ve got you covered. Stay tuned in 2022 for insights each month on these topics of interest for consumers.

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What does true partnership look like? You deserve a flavor partner ready to turn these trends into the tangible.

Let FONA’s market insight and research experts get to work for you. Translate these trends into bold new ideas for your brand. Increase market share and get to your “what’s next.” Our technical flavor and product development experts are also at your service to help meet the labeling and flavor profile needs for your products to capitalize on this consumer trend. Let’s mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution.

From concept to manufacturing, we’re here for you — every step of the way. Contact our sales service department at 630.578.8600 to request a flavor sample or chat us up at www.fona.com/contact-fona/

Sources in full report