The Kroger Co. has predicted emerging food trends, consumer behaviors, and popular items for the year ahead. Its 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. It was curated by Kroger’s food experts, from its private-label Our Brands product developers to culinary specialists.
“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 senior vice president, chief merchant and marketing officer, in a statement.
Kroger’s top 10 trends for 2022 are:
1. Umami away! Asian cuisine has long demonstrated 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, according to the retailer.
2. “Everything” is … everything. ‘Everything’ seasoning is the trending flavor for 2022, as consumers top their favorite meals with a savory touch, according to Kroger. “Everything” inspired foods can be found in a variety of places, from the bakery to dips and even specialty cheeses.
3. Tastes of tequila. The biggest beverage taste of 2022 follows the umami trend—savory tequila, says the retailer. 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 their childhood are delivering comfort and joy to people, according to the retailer.
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 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, according to Kroger. Customers can also recycle flexible plastic packaging from Kroger Our Brand products through its national partnership with TerraCycle.
6. Grocery glow up. Emulating restaurant and travel experiences at home with “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 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 and in-store bakery items are providing consumers a chance to support small businesses.
8. Natural health & beauty. Consumers are seeking out natural products to increase beauty from the inside out. Eating for beauty and medicine is trending with 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, according to Kroger.
9. Good enough to share. No matter if someone eats vegan, organic, gluten-free or otherwise, foods for specific diets or eating styles taste good enough today so everyone can enjoy them and no one is left out of a great eating experience, Kroger says.
10. All aboard charcuterie. Charcuterie has created a board craze, especially when it comes to breakfast and dessert. Breakfast and dessert boards open a world of flavors without the commitment to a single dish, according to the retailer.