2020 was the year of banana bread while in 2021 we embraced outdoor dining. So what does 2022 hold for foodies?

Kerry Group has identified six key trends that will be embraced this year.

While the underlying drivers that influence consumers' associations with taste remain the same - comfort, health and nostalgia - their insatiable appetite for something new means food and beverage businesses will be facing increased demand - and creative freedom - to innovate and bring new products to market.

Here’s what’s in store…

1. Conventional surprises

We all love the classics, the conventional comfort food that is familiar and delicious. That won't change, but expect the norms to challenged with our classic favourites getting an added element of surprise.

For instance, the global favourite chocolate milkshake is expected to gain added appeal with surprise flavours such as lavender.

2. License to thrill

As life has lacked spontaneity due to COVID-19, consumers are now turning to their plates or palette for some extra adventure and travel.

Expect consumers to be embracing even more international flavours, both in restaurants and in their kitchens, such as zaatar, Aleppo pepper and Sakura - Japanese cherry blossom.

3. Tasty, but healthy

Driven by consumers' desire to be healthy and with an increasing focus on probiotic health, gut health and immune support, consumers are looking for health-forward food and beverages that make them feel like they are taking an active role in their future health.

But taste remains at the core of consumption desire and people now want the best of both worlds – sugar-free, lower-carb, plant-based and diet-specific foods all must be tasty and they are not willing to compromise on taste any longer.

Botanicals such as sage, rosemary, lavender and citrus blossoms are set to be very popular as people work towards certain functional health goals.

4. Authentic memories

While many thought that they would never long for school lunches again, there is a desire to evoke childhood memories and traditions or long-lost moments from the past. Consumers want to be transported back in time, with the comfort and indulgence that comes from the authentic flavours and ingredients that tell these stories. Flavours like custard, breakfast cereal, sultana and fudge are on the rise in the sweet category as consumers return to old favourites.

5. Provenance with a conscience

More than 50% of consumers focus on, and prioritise, sustainability in food and beverages. Building on that, expect to see an increased focus on flavours and ingredients that have transparent origins, are sustainably sourced and are ethically processed.

These ingredients are gaining prominence as consumers begin to understand the subtle taste differences of regionally and seasonally derived products that impact their community, their environment and the planet.

Consumers still want to enjoy chocolate and extracts such as vanilla, but want to know how they are sourced, where they are sourced from and the community aid provided in the process of sourcing.

6. Over-the-top indulgence

When consumers do decide to indulge, expect it to be decadent, especially when celebrating special moments.

Many will be ordering from their favourite restaurant that they couldn’t visit during lockdown or even getting an expensive cake from a Michelin star restaurant for a celebration. Chocolates and sweet forward flavours will step up a notch.