Closeup view pile of sesame mochi bun in white ceramic plate, a cup of black coffee with metal spoon, milk pot, moka pot coffee maker and a sesame mochi bun in wooden cup on wooden table.

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed consumers’ food preferences, ushering in a focus on community, authenticity, and health. According to a new trends report from Tastewise, U.S. consumers are expecting food to respond to their personal needs while connecting them to the world at large through unique cuisines and a renewed focus on sustainability.

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To uncover emerging trends, Tastewise uses artificial intelligence to analyze billions of online data points such as recipes, restaurant and delivery menus, and social media interactions. To qualify as a trend, a dish, concept, or ingredient must reach a critical threshold, experience consistent positive growth over 2 years, and reflect growth and engagement across multiple data sources.

For 2022, Tastewise predicts continued interest in functional foods, with 33% more consumers treating food as medicine compared to 2020. Functional ingredients of interest include sea moss and rhodiola, known respectively for their fertility-boosting and gut health properties. Micronutrients like adaptogens, zinc, and electrolytes are also top of mind, and Tastewise notes that there’s increased interest in boosting the micronutrient content of baked goods. A crossover of these two trends is mochi, a low-sugar, gluten-free food that’s making an increased appearance in baked items.

In the functional beverage space, interest has blossomed in both postbiotics and nootropics.

Consumers will also continue to prioritize sustainability, specifically practices such as regenerative farming. Tastewise notes that consumers are also highly aware of when brands are telling the truth about their products versus “eco-washing” them.

With travel restrictions and uncertainties still in place, consumers are engaging in “kitchen travel.” Latin American, Caribbean, and Indian regional cuisines are experiencing particular growth. Edible flowers and botanicals are also on the rise, as are fusion flavors such as “swicy” (sweet and spicy) and “swalty” (sweet and salty).

Finally, in the alt seafood space, Tastewise notes that king oyster mushrooms are starting to take the place of scallops.

To learn more about all of the trends and what opportunities they present for food manufacturers, download the full report.