Technomic Research December 2021

The world has faced nearly two years of disruption and uncertainty, cautious optimism and unexpected challenges. As we enter another year, the pandemic continues to loom large, informing operations, planning, decision-making and forecasting for operators and suppliers alike. And yet, with so much uncertainty still in the air, it finally seems as though the steady recovery many had expected to make 2021 the bounce-back year may actually have a good chance at materializing in 2022. Vaccinations are rolling out; people are continuing to return to offices, schools and global travel; and other upbeat developments are bringing new optimism and opportunity. But foundational issues around labor, supply disruption and inflation make it hard to peer into what’s to come next month, let alone next year. With this as the industry’s backdrop for the coming year, please read ahead for Technomic’s take on six major trends poised to make a global impact on foodservice in 2022, plus some up-and-comers likely to break out.

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Eggs are simple, universal, craveable, adaptable, suggestive of new beginnings


Eggs are the restaurant darling of 2022. Egg sandwiches are having a moment in many parts of the world and will soon dethrone the chicken sandwich as the next must-have-on-my-menu restaurant item. Operators will showcase eggs in more all day sandwiches and handheld offerings, complementing them with premium ingredients, housemade sauces and elevated preparation methods. Eggs are perfectly suited for a postpandemic slot in the limelight — simple, universal, craveable, adaptable, suggestive of new beginnings. Eggs also create opportunity for punny concepts and quirky branding, bringing some fun back to the dining experience.

The Great Breakfast Boom

The crisis may have prompted some chains to cut back on breakfast over the past year, but the daypart is poised for a big bounce back in 2022. With recovery scenarios on the horizon, consumers are settling into a less-disruptive reality, one in which some are fully homebased, while others head back to the workplace. And—crucially—kids are going back to school campuses. For many, sourcing a morning meal from a restaurant is once again a part of the routine. Expect chains to employ subscription deals, multiperson bundles, product innovation and amped-up marketing to capture morning traffic and establish loyalty. We’ll also see the return of 24/7 breakfast offerings as well as new competition from casual dining in the form of morning-only virtual brands and later-day breakfast options. And count on at least one unexpected star to emerge on the morning menu: the creative breakfast side. Something small that excites without being too complicated. Bacon-and-maple French fries anyone?

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Pain Points Persist

Make no mistake: 2022 is all about labor, supply disruption and inflation. This goes for restaurants, bars and other operators across the food and beverage ecosystem. What will be the dominant issues of the year will inform nearly every other aspect of the foodservice industry—from menu execution and product mix to marketing, capex and beyond. Additionally, large chains may find that they have a smaller pool of motivated restaurant franchisees, which could impact expansion targets. While these issues will continue making headlines across global markets, they will also spur lasting innovations that will ultimately put foodservice back on the path to long-term prosperity.

Delivery Kitchen Hype Gives Up the Ghost

It was a great run of media exposure for the ghost kitchen model. But all good things must come to an end. Delivery kitchens have had their 15 minutes of restaurant-trend fame and will garner less attention in 2022.

Not that they’re going away—not by a long shot. The dark kitchen model, like once-hyped formats such as food trucks, food halls and fast-casual spinoffs, no doubt will retain a permanent place in the industry. But that will be a return from a pandemic high to a pre-crisis place in the market. And that’s not bad given the already-robust attention ghost kitchens were receiving before the pandemic put the model on too lofty a mantle.

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Desserts Get to Work

If your dessert is not actively assisting with your life goals, it’s not the dessert you’ll want in 2022. Because this will be the year that it’s all about functionality on the dessert list. Think skin care-enhanced ice creams, immunity-boosting hand pies, mood-modifying macarons and so on. A key trend in recent years—and certainly amid the pandemic—has been the expansion of the functional concept to more types of foods and beverages, and this will start to play out in the dessert category to a larger extent in the coming year.

Regional Brands Gain Clout

Indies have been hurt bad and global players are looming as a result of the crisis, but there is also new white space for innovators to grow, and quickly. Keep close tabs on emerging local restaurant brands—these are poised to be strong competition for global restaurants and new customers for global suppliers. While the pandemic created an expansion environment largely friendly to leading global chains, it also cleared a path for players that are more local, nimble and positioned around attributes such as healthfulness, sustainability and technology.


Fish Mint

A flowering plant native to Southeast Asia, fish mint is named for its unique fishy flavor. High in antioxidants, fish mint has a history of medicinal uses throughout Asia. The leaves can be used as is for a fresh garnish or cooked with meats or fish.

Menu Example: Ha Long Scallops Crudo and Salmon Roe with winter melon jus, pineapple sage, dulse powder, fish mint, lime zest and Red Boat salt.

White Asparagus

Popular in Europe, white asparagus is harvested before it is ever exposed to sunlight. This prevents it from developing chlorophyll, the element that typically gives it a green color. It has a tough outer skin that should be peeled before eating and a milder flavor than traditional green asparagus.

Menu Example: Asparagi Bianchi with white asparagus, montasio cheese, smoked ricotta and mustard greens.

Garlic Scapes

These thin, curly stalks grow from the bulbs of garlic plants. They are similar to chives or scallions, but with a garlicky flavor. As such, they can be served raw or cooked as a flavor enhancer for savory dishes.

Menu Example: Chicken Liver Mousse and Duck Foie Gras Confit with port wine gelee, garlic scape sourdough crostini, frisee salad and raspberry vinaigrette.

Ignite Season’s Eating Spring 2022
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Comfort foods such as loaded fries, cookies and pasta dishes/ingredients including vodka sauce and carbonara will continue to grow.

Q3 2020 Penetration

Mezcal 10.4 / 17.4 / 67%

Rioja 11.9 / 15.9 / 33%

Bitters 44.5 / 54.9 / 23%

Burgundy 11.9 / 14.1 / 18%

Korean 5.9 / 6.6 / 12%

Port 13.1 / 14.6 / 11%

Q3 2022 Penetration

Champagne 30.8 / 33.7 / 10%

Vodka Sauce 5.7 / 6.1 / 8%

Bourbon 54.3 / 58.6 / 8%

Whiskey 63.3 / 68.0 / 7%

Loaded Fries 5.5 / 5.9 / 7%

Sake 5.4 / 5.7 / 6%

Predicted Two-Year Growth

Ketchup 8.9 / 9.4 / 6%

Cookies 16.9 / 17.8 / 5%

Carbonara 6.6 / 6.9 / 5%

Limoncello 5.6 / 6.0 / 5%

Jelly 8.1 / 8.4 / 5%

Note: Fastest growing and more than 5% penetration
Base: 5,886 operators with menus in Q3 2015 – Q3 2020
Source: Technomic Ignite Menu Data
Image Sources: Shutterstock


Among the leading influential fastest growers are decadent dessert-like flavors, namely Nutella, dark chocolate and frosting.

Q3 2020 Penetration

Nutella 4.0 / 4.7 / 19%

Dark Chocolate 3.8 / 4.5 / 18%

Ramen Noodles 2.1 / 2.3 / 11%

Frosting 4.0 / 4.5 / 11%

Calvados 2.4 / 2.6 / 10%

Cold Brew 2.3 / 2.5 / 9%

Q3 2022 Penetration

Plant-Based 3.7 / 4.0 / 9%

Lambrusco 4.5 / 4.8 / 7%

Armagnac 2.1 / 2.2 / 7%

Caribbean 3.9 / 4.2 / 7%

Beer 2.8 / 2.9 / 6%

Rose 3.7 / 3.9 / 6%

Predicted Two-Year Growth

Dark-Meat Chicken 3.9 / 4.1 / 6%

Horchata 2.1 / 2.3 / 6%

Paprika 2.2 / 2.3 / 6%

Shawarma 2.0 / 2.1 / 5%

Lemon Pepper Sauce 2.6 / 2.7 / 5%

Note: Fastest growing and less than 2% penetration
Base: 5,886 operators with menus in Q3 2015 – Q3 2020
Source: Technomic Ignite Menu Data
Image Sources: Shutterstock


Healthier alternatives such as oat milk, keto and calorie-free preparations will continue to emerge on menus.

Q3 2020 Penetration

Oat Milk 0.30 / 0.90 / 200%

Calorie-Free 0.05 / 0.10 / 100%

Ribeye Cap Steak 0.05 / 0.10 / 100%

Stilton 0.05 / 0.10 / 100%

Nitro 0.32 / 0.63 / 97%

Keto 0.39 / 0.75 / 92%

Q3 2022 Penetration

Cauliflower Rice 0.32 / .55 / 72%

Hawaiian Bun 0.16 / 0.26 / 63%

Nashville Hot 0.63 / 0.26 / 63%

Ethiopian 0.05 / 0.08 / 60%

Mediterranean Dressing 0.05 / 0.08 / 60%

Thick-Cut Fries 0.05 / 0.17 / 60%

Predicted Two-Year Growth

Millet 0.11 / 0.17 / 55%

Kombucha 0.70 / 0.21 / 50%

Babka 0.14 / .021 / 50%

Elderflower Syrup 0.28 / 0.42 / 50%

Furikake 0.47 / 0.69 / 47%

Note: Fastest growing and less than 2% penetration
Base: 5,886 operators with menus in Q3 2015 – Q3 2020
Source: Technomic Ignite Menu Data
Image Sources: Shutterstock


Among the two primary digitally savvy generational cohorts—which are often considered tech-obsessed—the appeal of robots and unmanned means of delivery for restaurant operations has diminished over time.

Compared to data culled from a 2019 Technomic study, a smaller number of Gen Zers and Millennials now find the use of robots for taking orders and delivering food appealing or very appealing.

Gen Zers see a greater two-year percentage-point decrease in this appeal compared to Millennials, while Millennials see a greater two-year percentage-point increase in those stating robots or drones are unappealing.

Top Two Box*Two-Year Change**Top Two Box*Two-Year Change**
Robots that can take my order16%-10pp20%-5pp
Food delivered via robot to my table22%-7pp21%-6pp
Food delivered via robot to my home19%-10pp23%-7pp
Food delivered via drone23%-7pp22%-8pp
Bottom Two Box*Two-Year Change**Bottom Two Box*Two-Year Change**
Robots that can take my order37%-33p39%+3pp
Food delivered via robot to my table36%-1pp41%+7pp
Food delivered via robot to my home35%-1pp40%+7pp
Food delivered via drone33%-4pp40%

*Base: 469 Gen Z/millennial consumers
*Source: Technomic Ignite Consumer featuring Technomic August 2021 Omnibus consumer survey
**Base: 900 Gen Z/millennial consumers
**Source: Technomic Ignite Consumer featuring Technomic June 2019 Foodservice Planning Program Study
Note: Top two box=appealing & very appealing and bottom two box=unappealing/very unappealing

Need help translating these trends to your menu? Contact a Kagome Sales Rep today!