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September 16, 2021

Flavor Trends Emerging for 2022

Tony Treadway

Flavor Trends 2022
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Global-inspired flavors, like this Texas Pete® Paella, are leading interest in 2022 trends.

It’s hats off to the leadership at Flavor Experience for a tremendous event, delving into the next great flavor trends for years ahead in foodservice. First slated for Lake Tahoe, their team pivoted to Monterey, CA when rampant wildfires approached Tahoe in a matter of a couple of weeks.

Pivoting was the key message from top chain menu developers who have been dealing with labor shortages and supply chain issues that continue to disrupt the restaurant business. Their predictions are that 2022 will be another tough year with hope emerging in 2023.

Limited Time Offers Accelerate

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Chain menu gurus discuss new pressures on LTO timelines.

Repercussions from the pandemic have dramatically impacted the process for planning and launching limited-time offers (LTOs). I heard from menu developers from Buffalo Wild Wings and Tilted Kilt describe timelines shrinking from a year to a matter of weeks in activating an LTO due to supply chain shortage. Likewise, labor shortages and turnover have made new menu or LTO items become less labor-intensive. Yet, chain management wants more LTOs to drive excitement among consumers and traffic to their restaurants. Now is a great time for food manufacturers with fully or partially prepared items to reach out to chains, especially if you can guarantee supply.

Spicy Flavors Get Even Hotter In 2022.

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Spicy flavor trends lean toward sweet heat, such as hot honey, for next year.

The biggest joke of the event was that American’s will go for anything described as a spicy chicken sandwich today, no matter how it tastes, but spicy flavors have never been as important. Especially, globally inspired flavors, such as tajin (+42% since 2020*), furitake (+70%), and even hot mustard (+29%) are expected to grow in 2022.

Cuisines That Are On The Rise For 2022.

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Menu experts share their thoughts on cuisines and ingredients on the rise during the Flavor Experience Conference.

Much of the tailwinds on spicy flavors are driving by the growth in global cuisines. Projections from the gathering were Middle Eastern, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisines will grow the most over the next few years along with Greek and regional Italian dishes all with their own flavors that are spice inspired.

What Ingredients & Themes Will Be Hot In Trending 2022?

Here are some to think about as you prep your menu and plans for next year. Think Mexican comfort foods such as Mexican sandwiches, churros as a snack or dessert or paella.

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A drizzled signature sauce over Texas Pete® Paella drew crowds quickly for a taste.

At the Flavor Experience, client Texas Pete® scored a major hit with chain menu developers with a giant paella that saw visitors come back for seconds and thirds.

Think island escapes. Consumers are looking for escapes from today’s stressful realities with flavors ranging from tropical fruits such as guava and mangos to simply banana. Bar drinks are headed in that direction already so spend extra time on your bar drink recipes for 2022.

One more, for now, is cold coffee. Did you know that 65% of Starbucks’ menu features a cold, not a hot coffee? Cold coffees are of special interest to Gen Z and Millennial customers so think about how you build on exotic ingredients for cold coffees for all dayparts and a variety of plant-based milks.

2022 will be another roller coaster for restaurants with threats of new COVID variants, supply chain headaches, and continued labor turnover. Leverage our insights to get a leg up on next year.

If you’d like more about future trends and how to prep for success, we’re happy to strike up a discussion.

*Datassential, 2021