The Kroger Co. has released its "2022 Food Trends Report," which predicts emerging food trends, consumer behaviors and popular items to help food retailers prepare for the year ahead. The fourth annual report centers on the continued dominance of at-home meals, powered by convenience, affordability, social gatherings, and the desire for sustainable and nutrient-rich food items.
"Last year, even as many Americans returned to work and eased back into social gatherings, it became apparent that new habits were formed in 2020 and that they are here to stay – including cooking more at home. Customers are enjoying the convenience, affordability and just plain fun that comes from preparing meals at home," said Stuart Aitken, Kroger's SVP, chief merchant and marketing officer.
"Unlocking these trends allows us to prepare for the year ahead, adapt our offerings, and innovate within Our Brands to ensure we continue to provide customers exactly what they need and want to delight themselves and their guests in 2022 and beyond," added Juan De Paoli, VP of Our Brands. "At-home meals hold major significance for our customers, and we take the importance of supporting these moments very seriously. The Our Brands team is endlessly striving to provide quality items that become the perfect backdrop as customers pridefully serve as they celebrate holidays, birthdays, milestones, anniversaries, and other get-togethers. We're excited to unveil new offerings in the year ahead that will add a wonderful – and tasty – touch to these gatherings."
Kroger's top 10 trends for 2022 can be broken down into three categories: emerging flavors, item premiumization and behavior shifts.
1. Umami away! Asian cuisine has long understood how ingredients high in umami help elevate other ingredients and round out flavors in a dish, but the umami trend is exploding across new products, multicultural cuisines, traditional cooking and hybrid mash-ups.
2. "Everything" is … everything. “Everything” seasoning is the trending flavor for 2022, as consumers top their favorite meals with a savory touch. Be on the lookout for “everything”-inspired foods, from the bakery to dips and even specialty cheeses, to follow the trend.
3. Tastes of tequila. The biggest beverage taste of 2022 follows the umami trend – savory tequila. As consumers continue to host at home, tequila is a shareable spirit that opens the door to experimentation. With tons of mixes to explore and custom cocktails to create, consumers are using tequila as a base to delight guests with diverse palettes.
4. #TBT flavors. As consumers cook more at home, recipes from childhood are delivering comfort and joy to people. Think of the nostalgic ‘90s comeback, but apply it to meals. This includes products like Kroger Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Cookies and Kroger Mini Pizza Bagels.
5. PLANeT-based foods. Consumers continue to focus on the health of the planet, not just through plant-based foods, but also by reducing their waste impact with upcycled ingredients and more recyclable packaging. Plant-based foods are now being purchased for indulgence, comfort and nostalgia, rather than being solely known as the healthier choice for our bodies, while still helping consumers lower their carbon footprint. Last year, Kroger expanded its Simple Truth Recycling Program with TerraCycle to include all of the grocer's private label brands.
6. Grocery glow up. Cooking at home isn't just about convenience anymore; emulating restaurant and travel experiences at home with upleveled, "Instagram- able" meals is trending today. Consumers are raising the bar when recreating dining experiences at home and have been met with the premiumization of frozen food as well.
7. Hyper-local: Consumers are more conscious about the environmental and social impacts of their purchases, and are making it a point to purchase products grown or made close to home. Alternative farms have created a way to get locally sourced natural ingredients at their peak freshness so everyone can support and enjoy their local farms, and in-store bakery items are providing consumers a chance to support small businesses.
Last year, Kroger launched Go Fresh & Local, which offers additional opportunities for fresh suppliers to become part of the organization's supplier network. The winners, which will soon be appearing on shelves, include Maazah, Nona Lim, Queen Charlotte's Pimento Cheese Royale, Simply Southern Sides and Soupergirl. As part of Kroger's Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan, the organization is committed to increasing its spend with diverse suppliers to $10 billion by 2030, after reaching $4.1 billion in 2020 -- representing a 21% increase from the previous year.
8. Natural health & beauty. Consumers are seeking out natural products to increase beauty from the inside out. Food and beverage products that have health- and beauty-boosting benefits are trending in 2022, with examples including fermented kombuchas, collagen-rich bone broths, antioxidants, probiotics, reductions of sugar and additions of omega-3s.
9. Good enough to share. Whether vegan, organic or gluten-free, foods for specific diets or eating styles taste better when everyone can enjoy them, so look for family-size products in these segments to land in more shoppers’ carts this year.
10. All aboard charcuterie. Charcuterie has created a board craze, especially when it comes to breakfast and dessert. Boards have branched out beyond appetizers to offer consumers a variety of small portions to make the most out of every meal. As "boardies" start or end their day, breakfast and dessert boards open a world of flavors without the commitment to a single dish.
Kroger's "2022 Food Trends Report" is curated by the grocer's food experts, who range from Our Brands product developers to culinary specialists.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve more than 11 million-plus customers daily through a digital shopping experience and 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.