Here are the Top Trends for 2022

By Amelia Levin

The National Restaurant Association released its annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, which surveyed more than 350 ACF members in October 2021. Nearly 100 food items and culinary concepts were rated for the report, which offers a detailed look at the topics, trends, and products expected to drive restaurant menus in the coming year across a variety of categories including daypart occasions, menu categories, beverages, flavors, global inspirations, packaging/off-premises trends and industry macro-trends. Download the full report here.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Plant-based food – Consumers are refocusing on better-for-you options, with foods that are believed to have immunity-boosting qualities and plant-based sandwiches making up three of the Top 10 Trends for 2022. Plant-based proteins are growing increasingly popular on menus and less expensive cuts of protein, such as thighs instead of wings, will have a greater presence in the year to come.
  • Sustainability – will continue to influence menus and how restaurants make decisions across the board. From reusable and recyclable packaging to zero-waste options, restaurants are continuing to prioritize sustainable initiatives. As consumers continue to utilize off-premises options in all dayparts, restaurants are looking to translate their dine-in experience outside the four walls of the restaurant with thoughtful packaging that maintains food quality, retains temperature, and is tamper-proof.
  • Refined menus – Menus will become more refined and streamlined going into the year ahead, while chefs anticipate alcohol-infused desserts, globally inspired items, and even upscale potato chips to find spots on the menu.

More Trends for 2022

Andrew Freeman & Co. (af&co.), a global restaurant consultancy, also presented its annual trends report in partnership with Carbonate (download the full report here

Here are some highlights for 2022:

  • The hottest dish of the year will be laksa, a signature Singapore dish with curried noodles and aromatics, plus add-ins like hard-boiled eggs and prawns
  • Filipino Food is still rising in popularity, with dishes like sisig fried rice, lechon and adobo chicken menued around the country
  • Shaved ice will be the dessert of the year, with pretty presentations at Locust in Nashville and La Perla in El Paso, Texas
  • Drinks will focus on an 80s Cocktail Revival, from the beloved Midori or Amaretto Sour to Singapore Slings, The Grasshopper and classic champagne cocktails
  • Cuisine of the Year is Caribbean, with a focus on the cuisines of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica
  • Indian cuisine is on the rise, with elevated butter chicken and other dishes being showcased at restaurants like Aurum in Los Altos, California, Unapologetic Foods in New York and Amber India based in San Francisco.
  • The Food City of the Year is Nashville, Tennessee
  • Empanadas are “The New Hot Pockets”

…. and much more!