Each year, Flavor & The Menu editors Cathy Nash Holley and Katie Ayoub compile a set of trends that will resonate with today’s consumers and provide growth opportunities for the restaurant industry.
They highlight emerging flavor trends, delivering insights that shed light on the “why” behind each of the 10. This iconic issue serves as a roadmap for innovation, providing menu developers with ideas for in-market implementation.
“This year’s collection of Top 10 Trends signals a shift, whereby younger consumers are indeed in the driver’s seat when it comes to food and beverage trend inspirations,” says Cathy Nash Holley, Flavor & The Menu’s Publisher/Editor-in-Chief. “Our research has proven that social media has advanced to a point at which restaurant trends are becoming inspired by consumer behavior. This is the reverse of just a couple years ago, when users allied with restaurants for their personal brand-building efforts. Several of the trends covered in this issue trace back to social media users’ clever skills and outsized influences.”
Flavor & The Menu’s Top 10 Trends for 2022
- Next-Level Charcuterie: Energized by social media, charcuterie boards began their resurgence as the ultimate shareable.
- Spanish Bocadillos: Spain’s simple, rustic bocadillo is finding a home on American menus.
- Modern Greek: Eschewing the kitschy “Americanized” Greek that defined the cuisine for generations, restaurants are resetting the dial with authentic recipes and ingredients.
- Tropical Flavors: With mood-boosting colors, vibrant ingredients and an island-escape sensibility, the flavors of the tropics offer escapism and joy.
- Mexican Comfort: Next-level tweaks of crave-worthy dishes like quesadillas, taquitos and birria provide safe adventure wrapped in homey comfort.
- Plant-based Seafood: Plant-based seafood is starting to make waves on menus, as innovative suppliers introduce alternative products to foodservice.
- Salt: Salt is gaining traction as both a flavor enhancer and a high-impact flavor on its own.
- Savory Hand Pies: Concepts specializing in hand pies have revved up the engines of innovation around empanadas, meat pies, pasties, puffs and more.
- Bananas: Menu developers can peel back the layers of possibility found in the humble banana: dialing up its tropical tones, leaning into its Southern comfort or exploring eclectic mash-ups.
- Cold-Coffee Drinks: Younger consumers are driving innovation in cold-coffee beverages, driving menu innovation in a wider array of applications, from new non-alc coffee tonics to a broader use in cocktails.
Katie Ayoub, managing editor, describes the phenomenon as the “democratization of innovation.”
“Today’s popular social media channels enable and inspire younger consumers to showcase their creativity and passion for food and beverage trends. These fun make-at-home trends—like charcuterie boards, banana bread and pocket-fold quesadillas—catch fire quickly in this space, gaining momentum and building enthusiasm for more iterations. Chefs, pastry chefs and mixologists can springboard from there, leveraging that newfound pop culture vibe, then take these flavors and forms into new, exciting directions on their menus,” said Ayoub.