2022 Food Industry Trends: ‘Climatarianism’ Makes the Agenda

Megan Bray January 24th 2022 - 3 minute read

Brexit, supply chain issues, the pandemic, sustainability and health and wellness concerns look to steer food industry trends in 2022, according to UK news source foodmanufacture.co.uk.

Health & Wellness

Most of us have been guilty of a spot of comfort eating over the past couple of years – and who can blame us, given the state of affairs.

Consequently, as 2022 dawns, we’re noticing the effects. As most of us are able to return to work part-time, get out for exercise and greet family and friends anew, we’ve left our sugar cravings behind and are attempting to segue into a healthier lifestyle.

No wonder, then, one of the biggest food and drink trends forecast for 2022 is an increase in ‘healthy food’ sales, including ‘functional’ foods designed to target deficiency, ‘better for you’ products and high-quality, ethically sourced ingredients.

According to foodmanufacture.co.uk, ‘functional’ foods have become more popular as consumers specifically seek out products that support immunity, better sleep and reduced stress: ‘ShelfNow’ says it has seen a spike in sales of probiotics, gut-friendly drinks and fermented food and drink.

In a similar vein, Tate & Lyle has drawn attention to the demand for ‘better for you’ snacking. Customers want foods that are not only better for you, but better for society and the planet. What Tate & Lyle refer to as the ‘clean label movement’ promotes transparency in how products are made and where the ingredients come from.

Greener Eating

2022 is also expected to see an increased awareness amongst consumers of the environmental impact of what ends up on their plate. Consumers are choosing to buy local produce rather than items which have been flown halfway across the world – a habit encouraged by disruptions in international supply chains.

Waitrose have called this newfound conscientiousness ‘climatarianism’, as 70% of those asked told the retail giant that the carbon footprint of their food matters.

Some consumers are looking to reduce their environmental impact by going plant-based in the month of January or otherwise limiting their reliance on animal products. Corporate engagement manager at the Good Food Institute (GFI), Charlotte Lucas, says that the institute expects plant-based eating to continue its growth in 2022.

Other popular measures include reducing food waste and buying ingredients with less packaging. Ocado reports that 21% of its customers are buying a refill item, up 10% from two years ago.

With the UK government introducing a tax on plastic packaging in April this year, food manufacturers have another incentive to sell produce loose, or bound with card and paper. Alternatively, producers can avoid the surcharge by using plastic that contains at least 30% recycled material.

Social Media

As each new generation appears to have mastered the internet to a standard beyond their predecessors, it’s not surprising that technology is tapped to play a pivotal role in 2022.

Journalist Sophie Morris draws our attention to ‘The TikTok Effect’ – the repercussions of recipe videos being shared on social media. Named after the viral video network which lets users share content with a global audience, supermarkets confirm a direct correlation between hit videos and sales hikes.

The influence of celebrity culture on food trends is not new – retailers will be familiar with the Delia or Nigella effect. Apps like TikTok inspire eating habits more quickly than cookbooks or word-of-mouth, however, given the pace at which content is shared. What’s more, content producers are rarely celebrities.

Food retailers largely see ‘The TikTok Effect’ as a good thing, encouraging people to try foods they may not normally eat. According to Laura Harricks, chief customer officer at Ocado:

‘Culture has always influenced what we eat, and it seems the pandemic has amplified that even more.’

This year, the Pinterest Predicts 2022 report reckons that ‘gravity-defying cakes’ will be the next big thing on social media. Baking reality shows have nurtured a public interest in home-made puddings. The report foresees ‘people craft[ing] elaborate cakes’ as an expression of their mood.


Finally, many in the food and drinks sector believe that 2022 could see an increased reliance on automated manufacture.

Shifts in working habits in the post-pandemic world means the industry faces a very real workforce crisis which has dramatically increased labour costs.

To address this inefficiency, Stuart Coulton of Omron Industrial Automation proposes that collaborate robots, or ‘cobots’ could replace humans in end-of-line operations such as palletising and case packing.

According to James Kemp, managing director at Pentadel Project Management, the use of ‘cobots’ is just one of a number of positive solutions. He remarks:

‘Manufacturing and distribution will no longer look at automation as a ‘nice-to-have’ to reduce costs, rather it will be imperative to ensure the efficient functioning of parts of the facility.’

Additional Trends

Alongside health & wellness, greener eating initiatives, social media trends and automation, various analysts also have 2022 pegged as the year of nostalgic flavours; the year of healthy beverages; the year of cooking at home; the year of hibiscus; the year of fresh British fish; the year of British vodka and the year of supermarket stand-offs.

What’s certain is consumers have so far shown themselves capable of finding inspiration aplenty throughout the coronavirus pandemic, from online influencers to TV series and prominent social issues: and while some trends can be predicted via patterns and algorithms, the spontaneous ingenuity of the public should never be underestimated.

Written by
Megan Bray

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