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10 future-forward foods & flavors to watch in 2022

10 future-forward foods & flavors to watch in 2022
(Image credit: (Flickr user Frédérique Voisin-Demery))

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Every December, as part of Datassential’s list of the trends to watch in the year ahead, we also release our list of the 10 foods, flavors, ingredients and dishes that should be on your radar. It’s arguably the most popular part of the report, as food industry experts look for the foods and flavors they already know – confirming they are ahead of the trends — and new options to test and experiment with. They are always early-stage trends found in the “Inception,” or very first, stage of our Menu Adoption Cycle, but they made the list because of their potential growth opportunities. From proteins to spicy peppers to desserts to drinks, there’s a little bit of everything on this year’s list. When you encounter them in the future, you can say you learned it here first: 

  • Yuba noodles: Made from tofu skin, this naturally plant-based noodle option works in bowls, stir fries, and soups. It’s showing up as a plant-based menu option as well as in a number of retail products. 
  • Black salt: Often used to give plant-based “egg” dishes that distinctly sulfurous flavor, now chefs are discovering black salt’s unique flavor profile in its own right. While a little goes a long way, it’s showing up on cocktail rims, in desserts, and sprinkled over butter for a next-level bread course.
  • Sikil pak: This Mayan pumpkin seed could be the next hummus or guacamole. Find it topped with fried cauliflower, marinated jicama and sunflower seeds at Portland, Ore.’s Tamale Boy. 
  • Chiltepin peppers: These tiny powerhouses are the only wild pepper native to North America. As US consumers continue to seek out new spicy, bold and unique flavors, look for these peppers to show up in meat and seafood entrees, dips and sauces. 
  • Hearts of palm 2.0: Hearts of palm are making a comeback as plant-based seafood replacements and in a range of Latin-inspired dishes. Consumer trial of hearts of palm increased 6% in just the past 2 years, earning it an “On Fire” rating from our Flavor database. 
  • Chaat: India’s favorite savory, crunchy, spiced street snacks, chaat, are seeing renewed interest in the US. Find them at Chit Chaat Corner, which specializes in crispy pani puri, outside of Washington, D.C.
  • Next-level non-dairy ice cream: As new plant-based alternative “milk” and dairy options continue to trend (from potato and squash “milks” to animal-free milks that are virtually identical to cow’s milk), look for next-level non-dairy ice creams to start showing up more at retail. 
  • Indian pizza: Indian pizza chains and menu items are popping up across the country, offering up options like tikka masala or butter chicken pizza. Check out chains like Masala Pizza in Illinois, Curry Pizza House in California and Pizzawala’s in Michigan. 
  • Shashlik: These meat kebabs are appearing on more menus with traditional Central Asian and Russian flavors. Find them at markets like New York’s Tashkent Supermarket or L.A.’s Pacific Coast Food, sometimes called the “Russian Costco.”
  • Asian rum: Historical evidence points to Asia being the birthplace of rum (which makes sense considering that’s where sugar cane originally comes from). Now new distillers are celebrating a modern age of Asian rums, like India’s Maka Zai, Vietnam’s Sampan Rhum, Cambodian Samai Kampot Pepper rum and the Philippines’ Kasama rum. 

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Mike Kostyo is an associate director and the staff Trendologist at Datassential, a food industry market research and insights firm.

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