While COVID had a definite influence on 2021 food trends, it was not the only influencing factor behind changing consumer behaviors and preferences.
This up-coming year, we can expect to see more of the restaurant trends of the last six months—takeout, ghost kitchens, comfort food—but also plenty of innovation.
To stay ahead owners shifted business models by innovating and adapting their menus at record speeds to remain relevant. Predicting the foodservice trends of 2022 and maintaining customer demand is more important now than ever before.
So, what's next? We've curated the top 5 Canadian food trends we are expecting in 2022 according to the top Canadian food industry experts.
1. Global Street Food
With many of us being grounded and/or unable to travel as we wish in the last couple years, travelling with our tastebuds is more practical. What better way to taste the world that with global street food. Offering the essence of the country in quick bites.
Typically street foods are simple yet flavour forward dishes prepared using minimal labour and equipment. Feeding the masses in a short period of time. What better option for time (and labour) starved kitchens.
The major operational perk of street food inspired fare is that traditionally these types of foods by nature are prepared in minimal facilities or in very little time. The simplicity of their preparation should integrate well into operations while at the same time drawing on big flavor and appeal.
“Among all the takeout‑friendly fried chicken, New York‑style pizza, and gourmet sandwiches, has been an uptick in street foods hailing from around the world. I expect we’ll keep seeing more of this.” – Valerie Silva, writer and editor who currently heads Eater Montreal
2. Next‑level Takeout
With takeout and delivery orders on the rise, there’s a great opportunity for operators to add new customers and increase revenue with simple enhancements to menuing, marketing and helping back-of-house operations. According to Restaurant Business, the average restaurant’s delivery sales could top 40% by 2022 – making it more important than ever to ensure a seamless takeout and delivery program.
Create an Experience
Pick a menu item that is going to showcase everything the restaurant is known for – the quality, flavor and appearance. It’s important to think through how your restaurant model translates to takeout and delivery, and make as many test runs as necessary to ensure customer satisfaction.
“Takeout that feels thoughtful (Korean Scrambled Eggs) and not simply a convenience. This could be from traditional restaurants, pop‑ups or speakeasies, with an attention to detail so you feel you’re truly being hosted, even if from afar.” – Tara O’Brady, food writer and author of the award‑winning cookbook Seven Spoons
3. Plant‑based Fare - Huge Opportunity for Operators
With this new trend taking hold across various food segments, restaurants and other foodservice providers are staring to keep up with demanding consumers who want more meatless options on their menus. An increasing number of restaurants are catering to the growing number of vegans, vegetarians and “flexitarians.” A report release in August by Bloomberg Intelligence suggests that global retails sales of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives may reach $126 billion by 2030, up from $29.4 billion in 2020.
The growth in “plant based” appearing on menus in the U.S. and Canada is not only driven by small vegetarian or vegan restaurants, chain restaurants are on board the plant train.
“More plant‑based and vegetable‑forward dishes and a renewed interest in sustainability and environmentally conscious food sourcing.” – David Hawsworth, Air Canada Culinary Partner and owner and operator of Vancouver restaurants Hawksworth, Nightingale and Bel Café
4. Cultural Authenticity - Heritage Cooking
Heritage cooking is a concept that highlights the recipes of first-generation Canadian immigrant chefs. Traditional flavors and recipes passed down through the generations narrate the cultural heritage and give a voice to chefs that are often marginalized by mainstream media, while giving foodies an opportunity to experiences unique and authentic dishes. Food lovers will be able to try cultural food beyond conventional staples, and first-generation chefs will gain much deserved representation in the culinary world.
“As the population demographics in Canada continue to shift towards a more diverse culture makeup, I believe we will continue to see the normalization of even more culturally authentic food and beverage operations.” – Roger Mooking, celebrity chef, restauranteur and TV host of Man Fire Food on Food Network
5. Deeper Dives into Black Foodways
African cuisine is steeped in history and colonial influence, relying largely on a plant-forward approach to dishes by elevating grains, pulses, and produce with strategic use of herbs and spices. As consumers are looking to more plant-forward diets from a health and environmental perspective, traditional and non-traditional African inspired dishes are a great way to introduce new flavors and ingredients as a bridge for safe experimentation to new foods. According to Technomic, more than one-third of consumers (35%), and almost of half of Gen-Z (47%) and Millennials (46%) would like to see more African influences on restaurant menus
“I believe that folks are taking more interest in the African diaspora and specifically what African-American foodways are in the scope of the American culinary market. I think we'll see a more focused conversation around ingredients like sweet potatoes and various greens or biscuits as they relate to Black folks and more specifically how they come from our agricultural and more agrarian roots. I also think that there will be a rekindling under the fire of indigenous cuisines in America. Trends will be less "trendy" this year and more rooted as we look back on a year that has grounded many of us and brought our foundations and truths to the surface, in my opinion.” — Omar Tate, chef and founder of Honeysuckle Projects
What Does It All Mean?
- Mindful Indulgence
- World flavours / restaurant flavours at home
- Ethic cuisines
- Fun and stress free
- Premium Quality
- “Weird” and experimental
- Local & Ethical
- Sense of Community
- Self Expression
- Environmental and Animal treatment
Restaurant owners that can successfully implement some of these food trends for 2022 successfully will be the best-equipped to attract customers' attention and build loyalty.