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Forecast: Five top food and drink trends for 2022

What’s going to be trending in the world of food and drink this year? Velvet’s Riadh Falvo looks at the facts, stats and expert predictions


Potato milk is the latest vegan alternative to dairy (53914036)
Potato milk is the latest vegan alternative to dairy (53914036)

According to research done by Mintel in 2021, more than a third of Brits now drink plant-based milk. Not surprisingly, oat milk is the crème of the crop for now: British consumers spent £146 million on oat milk alone in 2020. That was great news for our own Glebe Family Farms which produces gluten-free oat milk in its Huntington factory.

Interest in oat milk has enjoyed a 95% growth rate over the previous year, and to demonstrate this, Multinational Corp Oatly has also moved into the area with a new production facility in Peterborough, creating "at least 200 jobs" in 2023.

Heading into 2022 however, the latest Waitrose Food & Drink Report predicts we may see an exploration into other milks, including - and interestingly enough - potato milk. Potatoes are the second-most cultivated crop in Britain after wheat, followed by oats. Although not currently very widely used in the food industry, except to make malt beer and our much beloved Marmite, barley comes in as the fourth most-cultivated crop, and yet another alternative-milk contender.


Low and no-alcohol drinks are on the menu (53914035)
Low and no-alcohol drinks are on the menu (53914035)

IWSR Drinks Market Analysis expects consumption of low-to-no-alcohol drinks to soar in the coming year, with a projected growth of 31% by 2024.

Low and no-alcohol drinks performance during lockdown shows just how resilient this trend is, despite any disruption.

Low and no-alcohol beer has most notably entered the foray with a selection of craft brews hitting the shelves and already available at Cambridge Wine Merchants, and advertised at the upcoming Cambridge Club Festival at Childerley Orchard in June 2022.

My own current personal favourites are Aecorn Bitter, a non-alcoholic aperitif made by Seedlip to accompany cocktails you can make at home, and then there are the next-level clarified tea drinks being created and served up by Sam Adams of Vanderlyle on Mill Road if you fancy a night out.


Lab-grown meat - and plant-based alternatives - are going mainstream (53914034)
Lab-grown meat - and plant-based alternatives - are going mainstream (53914034)

In 2013, the first lab-grown hamburger was served to two food critics at a news conference in London. It took three months to make, cost £211,000, and was deemed wholly unscalable at the time. Less than eight years later, not only is it scalable, it’s also on the menu for 2022.

Although lab-grown food may have started with meat, the good news for vegans, vegetarians and now flexitarians, is that it is most definitely not limited to that. Thanks largely to the emergence of microbial fermentation, we are now seeing the emergence of all kinds of lab-made food. The general consensus is that for 2022 and beyond, plant-based foods will continue to push boundaries, and take up a much more prominent position on our plates.


Brunch is set to become even bigger (53914030)
Brunch is set to become even bigger (53914030)

This year’s Waitrose Food & Drink Report predicts that breakfast will become a greater focal point in our lives. With brunch being my favourite meal of the day, you can just imagine the happy dance that may or may not have happened (it most certainly happened) upon reading this!

With less commuting and more time spent at or closer to home, we look forward to bigger breakfasts and having or making more time for brunch. While overnight oats and chia pots are fine, if you haven’t yet tried the fabulous Turkish eggs and outstanding shakshuka already on a lot of Cambridgeshire cafe and restaurant menus, I encourage you to.


Dinner parties are trending for 2022 (53914033)
Dinner parties are trending for 2022 (53914033)

Also a firm favourite in my social circles and family of friends is the art of the dinner party. From Food Brain to ShelfNow, everyone agrees that more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions has left us looking inward. Comfortably. We’ve redecorated our homes, upgraded our gardens, and become a “nation of homebodies”, according to the Waitrose report.

Fifty-three percent of those who took part in the Waitrose survey said they enjoy spending more time at home and, somewhat surprisingly, it was those aged between 18 and 34 that were even more likely to stay in. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they plan to have more dinner parties in 2022. Added the report: “The majority of the people we surveyed told us the pandemic has fundamentally changed their outlook: they’re more conscious of their mental and physical health, they’re enjoying life’s simple pleasures, and they’ve embraced the importance of family and friends.”

There were definitely some lows to this last year for all of us, however gathering our families and family of friends around the table more, whether it’s supporting our locals by meeting for brunch, or staying at home and going all out on a spread, is definitely a trend we can all get behind.

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