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Of late, there’s been a high level of interest shown towards the origins of Indian cuisine. The progression that is taking place in 2022 in relation to all India-based foods and beverages is unfolding significantly.

It was a beautiful opportunity for Evolved Foods to take part in the 5th edition of the Godrej Food Trends Report 2022 launch event that took place in Mumbai. We were introduced under the “Innovation in Vegan Food” category.

This year’s report highlighted the key shift in global perception around Indian food as its provenance is being recognized for its nuanced intricacies.

Here are some of the significant trends that were introduced in the report:

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Interest in Local Produce & Consumer Supported Agriculture: Lately, consumers have developed a keener focus on purchasing what is available locally. In 2022, this will evolve into a growing movement of consumer supported agriculture, where better systems of production can rely on a steady stream of demand. This producer-consumer relationship will extend beyond farm to fork, as consumers choose to support more locally produced products.

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Desire for Nutritionally Conscious Snacking: Busy lifestyles, decreased access to dine-in restaurant options and need to meet individual taste and nutrition requirements are leading more consumers towards healthy snacking. Consumers are placing more emphasis on the nutritional quotient of the snacks they are consuming. The healthy snack segment is only going to grow with a demand for functional ingredient-based snacks as we seek to get the most nutritional benefits from every bite we consume.

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Bespoke Desserts & Mithai: The dessert market was one of the first segments to pivot from the pandemic that saw a lot of growth and innovation. Traditional food is gaining a lot of momentum and hence traditional desserts and mithais have also been an area of great exploration. ‘No-compromise’ indulgence is also on the rise around handmade artisanal ice cream, a rising trend that brings about nostalgia and authenticity. Responsible satiation driven will see locally sourced, artisanal, and bean-to-bar chocolates continuing to flourish. The industry will rise to the challenge and 2022 will bring incredible offerings of all things local, artisanal, and handmade.

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The Rise of Artisanal Indian Coffee: The evolution in coffee culture saw at least one step of backward integration. The first wave or initial stages saw consumers focus only on the final product. The second wave brought baristas, and their skills with crafting beverages and elaborate latte artistry into the limelight. The third wave saw roasters taking an intercession with home brewing in the mix. And now, the fourth wave/present scenario presages producers at the farm level getting innovative with their offerings.

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Indian Spirits & the Celebrity Bartender: Quality Indian-origin spirits are continuing to grow. There are a lot of people who have the passion and grit to make things happen, and indigenous spirits are part of this approach. The reopening of pubs and bars has brought much needed relief to the industry and consumers alike. Consumers returned to savouring their poison of choice, almost with a retaliation! 2022 will see some seek the recollection of grabbing a cold one with friends. The hobbyists who experimented with mixology at home and have a newfound appreciation for the knowledge and skill held by beverage professionals is evident in the rise of the celebrity bartender.

Photo by Aditya Gupta on Unsplash

Growing Interest in Culinary Heritage: India has witnessed a phenomenal spike in interest around food studies. There’s an active desire to go beyond cooking and eating food for sustenance. Be it a new found pride in culinary identity, engage in culinary hobby or strengthen a career in food. In the coming year, curiosity will drive unprecedented interest in recording culinary heritage.

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Experience Culinary Culture: For the last two years there has been a frustrating yo-yoing between total travel bans and surges in travel during periods of ease. Consumers have been chalking up bucket lists of places to visit and foods to taste when things improve. The hospitality and tourism industries are gearing up to deliver on these desires. Many businesses have opened themselves up to patrons through food and beverage tours, allowing travelers to deep dive into the mastery behind local foods, beverages and favourite indulgences as well as opportunities to taste.

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Fermented Foods & Beverages: Few years ago, we would have questions like, “What is kombucha?” or “What are probiotics?” Today, we are seeing a far broader exploration such as fermentation. People are finding their own ways to engage with it. Chefs in restaurants are tinkering with the science of this ancient technology, using it in modern ways, to solve modern challenges. All this points to one thing in certain: fermentation is growing, and it is only going to get more interesting in the time to come!

Evolved Plant Meat and Evolved Plant Protein

Innovation in Vegan Food: Restaurants and consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the impact of our food systems on environmental well-being and the conversations around vegan practices have been increasing. Consumers are set to demand more in this category and the industry will support in delivering plant-based, vegan-friendly options for diners of every persuasion, vegan, vegetarian or reducetarian.

Photo by Daniela Paola Alchapar on Unsplash

Protein Has Become A Buzzword: This is now a hot topic in mainstream conversations. Thanks to relation to immunity-boosting wellness and nutrition, protein will no longer be the sole premise of those looking to build muscle tone or body mass, but be in focus for everyone who is conscious of overall wellness & health. Protein-rich plant-based foods such as soy, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc that are quick to cook and adaptable to flavour is set to see a huge demand in 2022.

With plant-based protein that is now gaining prominence, India’s plant biodiversity is now back in focus and reflecting on the varied Indian culinary culture. 2022 marks a paradigm shift in perceptions around Indian cuisine both at home and the world over. India’s richest natural resource is its plant biodiversity resulting in a plant-forward cuisine that made ingenious use of its diverse bounty of plants. People are increasingly open to trying out plant-based alternatives. The COVID-19 pandemic has instilled certain paranoia amongst people, by there being a constant need to consume healthy and clean food while minimizing meat.

We hope to see this trend now turn into a norm for the entire mass. Plant protein solutions are the need of the hour, more so in a time when it is being strongly linked to boosting immunity. The natural contribution that such products make to environmental sustainability is an added happy benefit.

The concept of plant proteins is not new to India, which is probably why conversations around plant-based foods and plant protein have accelerated in recent years. There is a clear realization of bringing about a conscious move towards more plant-based foods and meat alternatives into one’s diet.

Plant-based protein foods with the added benefit of convenience have become a major market driver. With a slew of product brands such as Evolved Foods and more is innovating to meet these needs of every kind of diner — from the experimentative vegetarian, to the meat-eater, to the vegetarian or vegan.

Plant-based menus in restaurants, perhaps slowed down by the pandemic, were a trend waiting to play out. Chefs and restaurants have been busy learning and innovating and a slew of establishments showcasing fresh and innovative vegan flavours and textures are opening up across the country. With so much innovation in the segment, the plant-based foods movement is set to boom in years to come.

Food trends are approached from the lens of past, present and future. Each year, the report adapts its scope to grow, spreading its footprint further, wider and deeper, reaching across verticals in the Indian food industry. These are then put in order and evaluated to forecast trends that will prevail in the forthcoming year. It is essential that we continue connecting with the industry, mapping all the emergent, existing and prominent trend curves.

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