Specialty Food Association Releases Top 5 2022 Trends

The main theme: comfort.

Various shapes of pasta on ladles, black background

New York, NY—The Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel has uncovered five trends that will drive the growth of the $170.4 billion specialty food industry in 2022, according to a press release.

Over the course of three digital SFA shows, the Panel assembled to research thousands of specialty food and beverage products. Denise Purcell, VP Content and Education for SFA, delved into their findings to find the trends. A top finding: comfort is key. “As we head into a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, comfort is an overriding theme,” said Purcell. “The events of the past 18 months have consumers seeking out familiar and comforting foods and beverages, but often with a twist for some excitement, or with specific diets and health concerns in mind.”

The trends:

  1. Pasta. Recent keto and low-carb trends have slowed the pasta train, but it’s revving up again as people look for comfort food. It’s coming back different, though—in shapes like cascatelli, which are unfamiliar to the U.S. market, or in alternative-grain options.
  2. Plant-Based. Still comforting, though. As plant-based shoppers go looking for comfort, options are making it to market to accommodate them. The SFA press release points to tenders and nuggets made with Chilean seaweed as one example.
  3. Global Snacking. With movement restricted, travel has been done through the plate—and now snacks are catching up, with keto-friendly, prebiotic-rich, Thai flavor-inspired snack bars; foie gras-flavored potato chips; and more: Trendspotter Kantha Shelke pointed to peanuts flavored with turmeric and chili “like the spicy peanut snack from hawkers on street corners in Bangkok that I relished as a child.”
  4. Peppers. There are regional chili peppers, chili crisps, dried peppers, and more, including a cooking oil that paired coffee with chilis. “Ajvar is a lesser-known red pepper and eggplant condiment that’s made in Turkey and is vegan,” says Trendspotter Jenn de la Vega. “Dua Lipa mentions ajvar on Hot Ones and recommends it with Albanian cooking.”
  5. Functional. Consumers are looking for immune benefits from food—and that desire for function is migrating as consumer worries do too, looking for anti-aging antioxidants, collagen drinks, and more.

Plus, other trends are projected to continue, including upcycling, mocktails, and chocolate innovations.

Interested in more trends? Don’t miss this:
Whole Foods Market’s Top 10 Food Trends for 2022

Related: Specialty Food Sales Hit $170.4B, SFA Reports
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