Who’d’ve thunk that  2021’s biggest food trend would be a relatively obscure influencer scattering salt over £800 steaks in the least efficient way possible. Or that 2021’s second biggest food trend would be the backlash against the same obscure influencer scattering salt over £800 steaks in the least efficient way possible.

So we’ve dusted off the old Magic 8 Ball and decided to go full on Mystic Meg, making ourselves complete hostages to fortune and try and second-guess what 2022’s biggest food trends are likely to be. Here’s some educated guesses…

Mushrooms

‘Shrooms are set to undergo their biggest revamp since Flower Power as diners realise more and more of their miraculous properties.

With the rise of vegan and vegetarian dining mushrooms have been enjoying something of a fungal renaissance of late.

2022 is set to see an explosion in the number of varieties...

2022 is set to see an explosion in the number of varieties of this humble vegetable available in shops and restaurants. And look forward to no end of headlines pontificating about the health benefits of mushrooms.

Potato Milk

I was stood ordering coffee the other day and one member of the couple ahead of me ordered ‘almond milk’ in their coffee. At which their partner announced that almond milk ‘was three milks ago’.

We live at a time that is epoched by which milk is ‘current’ and I am now kicking myself for not leaning in and announcing that they really should be getting in at the ground floor on potato milk.

Almond milk 'was about three milks ago'...

Oat milk is going to wish it was never born the moment that Potato Milk hits the refrigerated shelves. Sustainable and creamy, we’ll be thinking nothing of putting liquid chips into our daily coffee by the end of 2022…

Carbon Neutral Restaurants

The list of carbon neutral restaurants is short but growing. Fast.

India may be aiming to be Carbon Neutral by 2070, but Marylebone’s Jikoni is way ahead. They announced this year that Jikoni will become Carbon Neutral, one of the biggest names to take this path so far.

Expect to see many more big names going carbon neutral this year....

Chains like Le Pain Quotidien, Nando’s and Wahaca have already made the commitment and steak chain Blacklock (opening another branch in Covent Garden this year) are also following suit as they aim for B Corp certification.

Gaucho has already committed, and expect to see many more big names going carbon neutral this year.

Flexitarianism…

Gone are the days when you were either a vegan or you weren’t. Suddenly we’re all down to experiment. We’ve gone ‘flexitarian’!

Not long ago the vegetarian menu (if there was one) occupied a small and unappetising corner of the menu and it was unappealing AF. Now even the most passionate carnivore is willing to try something new.

We've gone 'flexitarian'!

One of 2021’s biggest industry stories saw Davies & Brook, freshly minted Michelin Star in hand, close when superstar chef Daniel Humm insisted that he take his restaurant vegan. His argument seems to have been that he could take his diners with him. Claridge’s didn’t agree that this was the time, but the market may disagree.

…And less meat

We’re already cutting down on our meat-intake. Figures show that between 2008 and 2019, the average Brit’s daily meat intake dropped from 103.7g to 86.3g, or just under 17%.

St John and co should be rubbing their hands together in anticipation of bumper days ahead...

This trend seems to be accelerating but this doesn’t sound the death knell for London’s meat restaurants. In fact, St John and co should be rubbing their hands together in anticipation of bumper days ahead.

That’s because we may be reducing our meat intake, but we’re focussing it on much higher quality meat.

Ghost kitchens…

This time last year you’d probably never heard of a ghost kitchen. Now they’re everywhere.

US fast food chain Wendy’s dipped their toes into the UK market this year with a handful of bricks-and-mortar openings. But where they really intend to expand is in the ghost kitchen market, with Wendy’s alone scheduled to open 700 of the things.

Itself an indication that the explosion in takeaway deliveries was not a pandemic thing but is here to stay, we’re fully expecting the ghost kitchen thing to be even bigger in 2022.

Robot Waiters

One gimmick that caught our eyes this year was a food court in Wandsworth hiring robot waiters.

But what if it isn’t a gimmick?

The Chinese company that makes the sophisticated servers, Pudu Robotics, has already sold tens of thousands of robots worldwide, and apparently is seeing bumper orders from the UK Hospitality sector.

Efficient and far cheaper than staff (which are in short supply in any case), don’t be surprised if a cyborg sommelier sidles up to your table this summer.

Canned and bottled cocktails

According to Waitrose, pre-batched bottled cocktails are tipped to be one of the biggest trends of 2022.

Fuelled by the obvious trend in outdoor dining and picnicking in 2021, the supermarket have seen a huge surge in demand for pre-bottled and canned cocktails.

But this has also been matched by the arrival of far more sophisticated options for customers. Expect mixologists, and upmarket bars to get in on the action alongside the usual names on the supermarket shelves.

Normality…

A prediction or a wish, it’s unclear, but 2022 should be the year that everything went back to normal.

As the threat of Omicron recedes it seems that the government’s blue-print for dealing with the pandemic has changed. While Wales and Scotland jumped to impose further restrictions Boris, for various conflicting reasons, many of them not linked to public health, held his nerve and did not allow the brewing storm to completely destroy Christmas and New Year.

Did we just jinx it? 2022 will be sure to let us know...

It seems that, failing a really bad future wave of covid, the restaurant industry can expect a year much closer to normality than 2020 or 2021 were able to offer.

Or did we just jinx it? 2022 will be sure to let us know…


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