WGSN | Big Ideas 2022: Food & Drink
Rising fear and anxiety, environmental concerns and tech advances will all drive changes in the food and drink industry in 2022. Here are the five key directions you need to consider when developing new products, in order to thrive in a shifting market
Claire Lancaster
05.31.20 · 12 minutes
Kin Euphorics
Executive summary

Our Big Ideas report presents the five need-to-know directions that will impact food and drink product development in 2022, giving you a clear vision of the opportunities and actions your business should take to win.

As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic into an uncertain world, it will be more important than ever for the food and drink industry to hone in on areas of opportunity. Against a challenging economic backdrop, we present five areas that will impact food and drink product development for 2022. The following pages explain these areas, examine the trends within them, call out the early adopter companies, and outline what you should do to win. The areas are:

  • Design Re-solution: The pursuit of a more sustainable food system; minimising waste and maximising value. 
  • Tech-celleration: The emergence of tech-led solutions to help solve some of the food sector's sustainable challenges.
  • Leverage the Local: The rising importance of local foods will escalate amid concerns about the global food chain.
  • Selling Survival: In an environment filled with anxiety and fear, consumers will increasingly look to be self-sufficient. 
  • Pleasure With Purpose: Consumers will want to embrace pleasurable moments as a reaction to anxiety and stress.
On the next page we explain the methodology behind Big Ideas 2022.
Smoking Goat

Breakfast rotis, Vietnamese coffee and Thai-style Bloody Mary at Smoking Goat

About Big Ideas 2022

Big Ideas 2022 is derived from WGSN's strategy-level flagship macro forecasts. 

The two annual flagship reports, Future Drivers and Future Innovations, look at the impulses and innovations that will shape the world in two years' time. They are created by our team of analysts and strategists based across the globe, from Sao Paulo to Hong Kong, New York to LA and London. These experts specialise in the fields of consumer and macro insights, food and drink, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle and interiors.

Future Drivers identifies the seven global drivers that will reshape the macroeconomic and business landscape in 2022. These include The Fear Factor, which will see a renewed sense of anxiety around everything from another global pandemic to the climate emergency, and Mass to Micro, which examines the rise of hyper-localism and the celebration of local nuances. Meanwhile, Future Innovations outlines the 12 need-to-know areas of innovation that will transform industries in 2022, and their implications for business and culture. These areas include Decolonisation and Survival Mode.

Alongside these two flagship reports sits Future Consumer which presents the consumer sentiments and profiles that will disrupt industries in 2022, and what companies must do to win minds and market share. This report is the foundation of our Food & Drink Personas 2022 report. 

Future Drivers, Future Innovations and Future Consumer, created by WGSN Insight, are derived using a unique methodology, coupled with proprietary data, and a global set of experts. These macro trend forecasts then serve as a baseline foundation for our content, and with clear links within the content weaving an invisible thread through our forecasts, you will clearly be able to see the trends backed up with insight and data.

Also in the 2022 report collection are: Personas; Food; Drink; Ingredients; Health & Wellness; Cuisine & Flavour; and Packaging


Kin Euphorics

Kin Euphorics' alcohol-free 'nightlife beverages' with adaptogens, botanics and nootropics


Here we present our five need-to-know Big Ideas for 2022

Yolélé Foods

2022 will see an acceleration of solutions in pursuit of more sustainable food systems, from minimising waste to maximising value at every stage of the product life cycle.

Winc Wine Club

Systems-level tech solutions will be driving new product development and bringing transparency to food production.


Rising concerns about sustainability and the vulnerability of global supply chains will create a new era of relevance for local products and low-impact, regional ingredients.


To combat growing uncertainty and fear, brands will create products and services that offer reassurance and enable self-reliance.

Kin Euphorics

Pleasure-seeking will be increasingly embraced and encouraged thanks to evolving notions of wellness and self-care, and as a backlash against stressful macro environments.

Design Re-solution

Design Re-solution is the idea that 2022 will see an acceleration of solutions in pursuit of more sustainable food systems – from those aimed at minimising waste to ways to maximise value at every stage of the product life cycle.

Design Re-solution is derived from the Future Driver trend Degrowth for Good, which lays out how consumers are seeking social or ecological good over economic growth, and the Future Innovation trend De-Materialisation, which further stresses that as mindsets shift, 2022 will usher in an era of limitarianism, and a questioning of what ‘enough’ looks like.

Food & drink concerns: It is increasingly clear that the ways we grow and process food is undermining our planet, and is not fit to meet the needs of a growing global population – a sentiment accelerated further as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts food supply chains globally. As consumers consider these facts and weigh up their needs versus their wants, food and drink brands in 2022 will design out elements contributing to the climate emergency and create solutions to prevent new problems.

Design Re-solution trends: Biodiversity; Byproduct Solutions; Alternative Proteins; Sustainable Farming Practices; Packaging

Brand affiliations: Cascadian Farms, Banana Joe, Sir Kensington, Renewal Mill, Seemore Meats & Veggies, Bird & Wild Coffee

Future Driver: Degrowth for Good

Future Innovation: De-Materialisation

Perfect Day

Perfect Day makes animal-free dairy milk from proteins, including casein and whey, by fermentation in microflora rather than the typical extraction of protein from bovine milk 

Biodiversity: underused & forgotten crops

Dependence on just a few foods has created enormous challenges for the food industry. Biodiversity will be key to the future. 

About 75% of the world’s food comes from just 12 plants and five animal species and more than half of the world’s plant-based nutrition comes from just three crops: corn, wheat and rice.

As the conversation about sustainability gains momentum, brands and consumers will recognise how this dependence on just a few foods has created a food system that is less resilient to threats like disease, pests, and climate change, and overlooks a variety of foods across the globe and the communities that cultivate them.

In response, brands in 2022 will incorporate underused and forgotten crops into new products, not only representing new opportunities for flavour discovery, but adding value to the local communities and natural ecosystems where they originate.

The Rediscovered 25, from The Lexicon of Food, is a campaign to highlight 25 “forgotten” superfoods which could feed the world in 2050, including lablab beans, a versatile, fibre-rich legume from Africa and India comparable to a lima beans, and chaya, a spinach-like green from Central America.

Exploring new formats and applications for some of these forgotten crops, General Mills brand Cascadian Farms released a honey toasted cereal made from kernza, a long-rooted, perennial grain that helps preserve soil health by resisting drought and reducing erosion, and Patagonia Provisions teamed up with a Portland, Oregon-based beer maker to release Long Root Pale Ale, a kernza beer. Meanwhile, Senegal-raised, New York City-based chef Pierre Thiam is championing fonio, a West African grain that is gluten-free and has triple the protein, iron, and fibre of brown rice, with a cookbook, packaged product and mill for the fonio, allowing it to scale; and Banana Joe is offering chips from a unique banana variety from Asia, rather than relying on the Cavendish, a banana monoculture which faces devastation from disease.



Patagonia Provisions

Patagonia Provisions' Long Root Pale Ale is made with kernza, a perennial grain grown using regenerative agriculture 


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Reducing waste: byproduct solutions

As more businesses pledge to end food waste, upcycling and using byproducts will see huge growth.

The upcycled food market is expected to grow 5% from 2019-2029. In the US, The Upcycled Food Association recently formed to research ways in which "all food can reach its highest and best use", and major brands are signing on to initiatives including the US EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, which asks businesses to pledge to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.

While product innovation has so far been dominated by ‘imperfect’ produce or scraps and trimmings which are incorporated into new products, 2022 will see the category expand into the use of byproducts, a more consistent and scalable waste source solution.

Spent grains, byproduct-based flours, and aquafaba, a byproduct from soaking or cooking legumes such as chickpeas in water for an extended period of time, are emerging as category-leading byproduct opportunities.

Brand examples include Canvas, which is developing fibre-rich drinks using spent grains; ReGrained, which is producing protein granola bars; and Rise Products, which create spent grain flour from the ingredient.

Meanwhile, Sir Kensington uses aquafaba from hummus production to make a vegan mayo; Planetarians' protein flour is made from defatted sunflower seeds; and Renewal Mill makes okara flour from a byproduct of soy milk. To showcase the ingredient’s potential, the brand created a cookie for purchase at convenience stores and other food retailers to show people that even with upcycled okara flour, it still tastes like ‘normal’ chocolate chip cookies.

Find inspiration in other far-ranging byproduct solutions, including Renmatix, which dissolves maple fibre using water to make a plant-based egg replacement; Lazy Bear Tea, which makes a black tea from dried cascara; White Moustache, which uses surplus fruit and whey to make probiotic tonics and frozen yogurt probiotic pops; Pulp Pantry, which makes chips using vegetable juice pulp; and The Real Dill, which sells Bloody Mary mix from cucumber-infused water created during the pickling process.

Renewal Mill

Renewal Mill's okara flour is gluten-free and harvested from the pulp of organic soybeans, which is created during soy milk production 

Alternative proteins

Plant-based innovation will continue to evolve as brands look to leave out problematic ingredients such as wheat and soy. 

Planterra Foods’ OZO sub-brand offer meatless burgers, meatballs and mince alternatives made from pea and rice proteins fermented by shiitake mushrooms (leaving out soy), while Foodies Vegan's Pumfu is a tofu-alternative made from pumpkin seeds and water that is gluten-free and takes on flavours of marinades, sauces and accompaniments like tofu does.

Meanwhile, reducetarian mixed-protein solutions are set to rise, serving the 98% meat-alternative buyers who continue to purchase animal meat. Look to Seemore Meats & Veggies, which makes sausages described as “less meat, not meatless", Hormel's Blend Burgers or Tyson’s Raised & Rooted line, which combines angus beef with pea protein and has 40% fewer calories compared with a typical all-beef burger, and 60% less saturated fat.

Finally, as questions about the sustainability and health credentials of ultra-processed meat alternatives lead consumers to consider new sustainable protein solutions, create innovative ways to make animal meat go further, from highlighting the meat potential of retired dairy cows to shining a light on offal and the more obscure parts like the secreto on pigs and the bavette on cows.

Seemore Meats & Veggies

Seemore Meats & Veggies' sausages contain a balanced mix of vegetables and meat 

Agricultural evolution: sustainable farming practices

As consumers seek to find out more about where their food comes from, sustainable farming practices will be more in the spotlight.

Sustainable sourcing and farming practices including crop rotation, organic and biodynamic agriculture, and permaculture will increasingly become the rule instead of the exception, as consumers demand products that are more sustainable as they scale, not less.

Consumers will want to know where their food comes from, exactly how it was made, and the story behind the producer. Many will look to local farms and suppliers for their foods, supporting those in their own communities. 

Many brands are already making the connections with their suppliers clear, and this will be commonplace by 2022. Innovators include UK-based Bird & Wild Coffee, which incentivises its small holder farmers to use sustainable agricultural practices and campaigns to protect migrating birds by promoting shade-grown coffee.

Meanwhile, Barn Farm Drinks creates 100% pressed fruit juices from fruit that is picked, pressed and packed to a variety of environmental standards, ensuring that all activities on the farm work in harmony with nature.

Several US food companies, including Republic of Tea, Back to the Roots, Amy's Kitchen and Lakewood Juices are now sourcing from biodynamic farms. 


Soil Association

Regenerative agriculture focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, and improving the water cycle 

Packaging's dual concerns   

While hygiene concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic derailed the push for sustainable packaging in 2020, it will return as a key driver for product development in 2022. Brands need to meet the dual concerns of hygiene and sustainability. 

Food and drink brands will look for solutions from new material innovation to circular, refillable systems to meet sustainability challenges, alongside the hygiene needs that will be ingrained in the consumer psyche from this year. 

Gaia Pulses has developed and produced a non-plastic, 100% GM-free compostable packaging to house its vegan and organic Greek meals, which returns as nutrients back into soil in 12 to 15 weeks, while Blue Goose Coffee makes Nespresso-compatible, eco-friendly coffee pods that are GM-free, compostable and made using renewable energy, packaged in sustainably sourced, recyclable FSC cardboard, and printed using vegetable inks.

Meanwhile, Little Freddie has committed to a closed-loop recycling programme for its baby food pouches, allowing buyers to send used pouches to specialist laminate recycling technology provider Enval for free via the post, so none of its products go to landfill.

Gaia Pulses

Gaia Pulses' organic ready meals in compostable packaging

Action points  


Systems, not stuff

The heart of sustainable innovation lies in investing in holistic systems, not one-off products or campaigns



Expand food horizons

Focus on forgotten crops. Expand consumers' palates and help promote the growth of a wider variety of crops everywhere with familiar and approachable formats to introduce new-to-the-West and underused crops


Invest in creative and effective storytelling

Create clear and effective communication focused on simple solutions to make clear the benefits of new products


Use what you’ve got

Reduce waste with solutions that upcycle byproducts from food production


Tech-celleration is the idea that systems-level tech solutions will lead product innovation for the food and drink industries in 2022.

Tech-celleration is derived from the Future Drivers trend Climate Urgency, which outlines how climate adaptability is no longer a strategy but a critical consideration for long-term growth, and the Future Innovations trend Digital Identities, which lays out the need for brands to invest in digital craftsmanship for future product development. Technology will advance product innovation that will not only be good for the consumer but also good for the environment. 

Food & drink concerns: New and emerging tech will be embraced in 2022 a way to move towards solving some of the environmental concerns of consumers. There will be a need for brands to be efficient, transparent and more personalised in the products they create. Also, hygiene and quality control will be key. 

 Tech-celleration trends: Blockchain for Food; 3D-Printed Foods; Cellular Agriculture; CRISPR/Engineered Foods

Brand affiliations: Zoégas, Provenance, Upprinting Food, Mosa Meat, Finless Foods

Future Driver: Climate Urgency 

Future Innovation: Digital Identities

Memphis Meats

Memphis Meats produces real meat from animal cells


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