Chinese baijiu is the world's most-consumed spirit, outselling whisky, vodka, gin, rum and tequila combined, yet many consumers may never have heard of it.
This high-proof white spirit is distilled from grains like rice, millet and sorghum, and is poised to become a universally available spirit to delight drinkers across the globe. Driving this trend are influencers of Chinese heritage excited to boost baijiu to the same international status as other regional spirits like tequila, as well as imbibers curious to experience a storied sip. Look for emerging specialist bars such as Boston Baijiu Bar; baijiu cocktails like the White Rabbit at Viridian in Oakland, California; and craft baijiu spirits from distillers outside China, including Sydney’s Australian Baijiu, UK’s V.I.P Jiu 8 and the US’s Buffalo Trace.
Japan’s ‘national fungus’ koji will step into the spotlight in 2022.
The versatile though often hidden fermenting and flavouring ingredient has been favoured by global chefs for years. It’s now playing a starring role, appearing in plant-based meats such as Prime Roots’ koji bacon in the US and historic Japanese whisky. Koji is the name for rice or barley inoculated with the mould Aspergillus oryzae. As it grows, it produces enzymes that break down proteins, fats and sugars, which then play a role in transforming ingredients in culinary applications. Miso paste, soya sauce and sake are made with koji mixed with grains or beans. Koji also brings forth the craveable fifth taste, umami. Look out for it in new places in 2022.
2022’s star climate-hero food will be kelp, a fast-growing seaweed with versatile applications and an excellent nutritional profile.
Kelp exports a large portion of its biomass out into the deep sea, allowing it to permanently remove carbon dioxide from the environment. Major financial investment is going into research on kelp as one of the saviours of our climate emergency. Food and drink innovators are using this delicious ingredient in all kinds of products, including burgers, popcorn, snacks and baby food. It is a big part of the regenerative agriculture conversation – according to the WGSN Food & Drink social media influencer map, kelp is the top ingredient associated with regenerative agriculture, even ahead of meat.
Arabica dominates the specialty coffee market, but in the future the coffee industry will be less reliant on the species because climate change is threatening the bean we love to brew.
Look for more robusta beans in 2022, many of which are connected to emerging Vietnamese coffee entrepreneurs outside the country, importing or brewing its coffee crop. While issues related to the pandemic are impacting global coffee trade, many signs point to a robusta surge, including Brazilian farmers turning to the variety as it can endure hotter temperatures and produce copious fruit. Beyond the species, heirloom coffee varieties will make their way to market from Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Colombia, attracting consumers eager to sample new single-origin brews.