KeHE predicts 2022 food and beverage trends

Natural and organic food distributor KeHE Distributors has announced its forecast of what trends in food and beverage may be arising in 2022, giving private label retailers an idea of what to expect.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
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KeHE, a distributor of natural and organic, specialty and fresh products, including private label and exclusive items, has released a new trend guide that should be of interest to the private label industry.

KeHE has predicted 10 food and beverage trends for the coming year in the new 2022 Macro Trend Guide. The company has 30,000 natural food stores, chains and e-commerce retailers throughout North America as clients. In 2021, KeHE announced plans to expand distribution in Arizona, along with making a distribution agreement with Los Angeles-based organic grocery Erewhon.

“As we move into 2022, natural & organic, specialty, and fresh products will continue to outpace conventional products in growth rates—and we see no end in sight,” said Brandon Barnholt, president and CEO at KeHE Distributors. “We are all adapting to the market we are confronted with right now. The ‘next normal’ presents the industry and—consumers—with unique challenges as well as some new innovative options to explore in the food and beverage market space.”

The 10 food and beverage trends to watch in 2022 according to KeHE are the following.

  1. Cuisine Exploration: Consumers are looking to travel the world through their tastebuds, with newer flavors like yuzu and ube. Younger generations, such as Gen Z, are driving consumption of African and Mediterranean cuisine.
  2. Food Tech Boom: KeHE experts predict the continued rise of plant-based varieties such as ready-to-eat meats, sugar replacements and new categories utilizing food technology.
  3. Sober-Curious Drinkers: Coined by KeHE, consumers have become “sober-curious” and “mindful drinkers,” looking for alcohol-free options.
  4. Dual Purpose Brands: Shoppers will look for brands that implement upcycling, water reduction, and reduction of their carbon footprint.
  5. Convenience Continues: The pandemic has led consumers to favor convenience foods including grab and go snacks, chef-inspired frozen meals and refrigerated appetizers.
  6. Flexitarian Diets: Consumers no longer follow strict diets but like to pick and choose what suits them.  For example, choosing to be more flexible with what they consume such as less meat and more plants rather than a fully dedicated vegan or vegetarian diet.  
  7. Permissible Indulgence:  Sixty-nine percent of consumers say they want the best of both worlds, balancing snacks that have taste but are also a healthier alternative.
  8. Shopping Local:  Supply chain issues have made shopping locally a necessity and shoppers want to also feel more connected to their communities.
  9. Getting Grain-ular: While oats are all the rage, KeHE experts predict the rise of grains including pistachio, hemp, barley, and seed alternatives.
  10. Functionality Collab: As inflation increases food prices, consumers are looking to get the most out of their food, such as mushrooms which are entering the coffee and snack categories.