To help enhance food retailers’ product selection for next year, trend experts at KeHE Distributors LLC have predicted 10 key trends in its new 2022 Macro Trend Guide. Examining major events in 2021, and determining their potential repercussions for the next year, the team of experts observed rising product innovation, consumer trends and industry shifts to provide the top themes to watch for in 2022.
“As we move into 2022, natural and organic, specialty, and fresh products will continue to outpace conventional products in growth rates — and we see no end in sight,” said Brandon Barnholt, president and CEO of KeHE. “We are all adapting to the market we are confronted with right now. The ‘next normal’ presents the industry — and consumers — with unique challenges as well as some new innovative options to explore in the food and beverage market space.”
Here's a quick look at KeHE’s 10 key food and beverage market macro trends:
- Cuisine Exploration: Consumers are looking to travel the world through their taste buds, with newer flavors like yuzu and ube. Younger generations, such as Gen Z, are driving consumption of African and Mediterranean cuisine.
- Food Tech Boom: KeHE experts predict the continued rise of plant-based varieties such as ready-to-eat meats, sugar replacements and new categories using food technology.
- Sober-Curious Drinkers: To use a term coined by KeHE, consumers have become “sober-curious” and “mindful drinkers” looking for alcohol-free options.
- Dual-Purpose Brands: Shoppers will look for brands that implement upcycling, water reduction and reduction of their carbon footprint.
- Convenience Continues: The pandemic has led consumers to favor convenience foods including grab and go snacks, chef-inspired frozen meals and refrigerated appetizers.
- Flexitarian Diets: Consumers no longer follow strict diets but like to pick and choose what suits them. For example, choosing to be more flexible with what they consume such as less meat and more plants rather than a fully dedicated vegan or vegetarian diet.
- Permissible Indulgence: Sixty-nine percent of consumers said that they want the best of both worlds, balancing snacks that have taste but are also a healthier alternative.
- Shopping Local: Supply chain issues have made shopping locally a necessity, and shoppers also want to feel more connected to their communities.
- Getting Grain-ular: While oats are all the rage, KeHE experts predict the rise of grains, including pistachio, hemp, barley and seed alternatives.
- Functionality Collab: As inflation increases food prices, consumers are looking to get the most out of their food, such as mushrooms entering the coffee and snack categories.
Also on trend, KeHE recently revealed the 20 “Golden Ticket” winners of its Diversity TrendFinder event, which are being fast-tracked into the company’s DIVERSEtrade program. Recipients were chosen based on diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as on the ingredients they use, how the products taste, their distinctive packaging and their company purpose. By joining KeHE’s product lineup, these brands will gain exposure to more than 30,000 retail locations and help the distributor’s retail partners bring innovation to their customers.
Naperville, Ill.-based KeHE is the largest pure-play distributor of natural and organic, specialty, and fresh products to more than 30,000 natural food stores, chain and independent grocery stores, e-commerce retailers, and other specialty product retailers throughout North America. A Certified B Corporation, the company has more than 5,500 employee-owners.