Every year, in every industry, trends come and go. While some may seem arbitrary (see: side vs. middle parts), trends are usually a reaction to what’s happening in the world—and of course, few things have been as influential to contemporary life than the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Looking into trends for this year was different than it’s been in the past—it’s not as static,” says Mia Schneider-Martin, Thrive Market’s Site Merchandising Coordinator for Food. “It will be interesting to see the direction things are going in 2022 in terms of COVID.”
In reflecting on the biggest healthy food and personal care trends for 2022, a few themes emerge repeatedly. There’s a renewed emphasis on immunity, self-care, and mental health in the wake of the pandemic. “People want to maximize everything they’re consuming to really optimize their health, whether that’s mentally or physically,” says Klara Gera, Thrive Market’s Site Merchandising Coordinator for Non-Food.
Consumers are experiencing cooking fatigue—another byproduct of the pandemic—and seeking ways to keep things interesting. They’re also trying to live sustainably, cutting back on everything from animal products in their diets to single-use plastic in their beauty routines.
For more on the healthy trends our Merchandising experts predict you’re going to be seeing everywhere in 2022, read on.
What it is: An innovative method of farming in which planting is done vertically rather than horizontally in climate-controlled indoor environments.
Why it’s trending: “This is definitely going to be a trend not only next year but in the next 10 years,” says Schneider-Martin. Vertical farming has the potential to improve access to highly nutritious fresh produce, particularly in urban areas, while circumventing international supply chains (and the large carbon footprint that comes with them), since facilities can be built anywhere and operated year-round. “You can grow tropical fruit in New York in the winter,” Schneider-Martin says.
Vertical farming also addresses some of the most pressing sustainability issues associated with agriculture. “It uses less land than traditional farming practices and doesn’t take over natural environments,” Schneider-Martin explains, adding that it can prevent deforestation while using 95% less water and producing less toxic runoff. “I think as this kind of technology pops up around the world, [more] people are going to be getting their fresh produce from indoor vertical farms.”
What it is: The popularization of flavors and ingredients that are new to many American consumers, such as yuzu, calamansi, and hibiscus.
Why it’s trending: Nearly two years after a global pandemic forced most of us to get very comfortable in our own kitchens, “people are trying to switch up the monotony of cooking at home by incorporating [new] flavors,” Schneider-Martin shares. Ingredients that have been relegated to Asian, Mediterranean and other global cuisines—think tart yuzu, citrusy calamansi, tangy tamarind, and floral guava—are entering the mainstream.
Beyond the fact that they bring some welcome excitement to your home cooking repertoire, some of these ingredients may offer health benefits. Schneider-Martin points to some studies that have found hibiscus may help with blood pressure and high cholesterol. Particularly given the post-COVID emphasis on health and well-being, “the functionality [of these ingredients] is interesting and attractive,” she says.
What it is: Personal care products that go beyond facial skincare and emphasize body skin and hair health.
Why it’s trending: “People have had more time to care about personal health and wellbeing, and have gotten interested in self pampering” during the pandemic, Gera says, adding that a number of brands have emerged over the last year focusing specifically on body skincare. “People are using body serums, moisturizers, and exfoliators in ways they didn’t before.”
Gera also expects to see a continued consumer interest in hair growth supplements and strengthening masks—another trend likely related to the pandemic, though not just because people have had more time for grooming. Many people struggled with a particular kind of stress-related hair loss, telogen effluvium, during the pandemic, and research suggests hair loss may in fact be a long-haul COVID symptom as well.
What it is: Personal care products for a cleaner and more sustainable routine, such as concentrates and package-free beauty products.
Why it’s trending: In beauty, our experts say, sustainability means going waterless (think concentrates and bars). “When you have products that already contain water, you use more of them, so you buy more of them,” Gera explains. “So [waterless beauty] can reduce plastic use.” Waterless concentrates and bars are also a good option for anyone who favors a clean skincare routine; since they don’t contain water, they don’t need as many potentially unhealthy preservatives like parabens. Gera says products like shampoo and lotion in bar form that foam up when wet will also grow in popularity, thanks to their low-waste packaging.
Another way to green up your beauty routine? Streamline. Gera says “skin-imalism” is here to stay in 2022. “People are getting rid of their excess products and trying to home in on a few important products that do the most for them.”
What it is: Cocktail mixers and pre-mixed drinks made with high-quality ingredients, as well as new non-alcoholic options.
Why it’s trending: “We saw in the pandemic that people weren’t going out as much, but wanted to bring the bar culture home,” says Schneider-Martin. She saw the cocktail mixers category grow by close to 30% over the last year and predicts it will continue to flourish, with products like a modernized margarita mix from Swoon (sweetened with keto-friendly monk fruit and colored with vegetable juice) and kombucha cocktail mixers. “People have gotten into the rhythm of making fun at home.”
While many people are playing bartender in their living rooms, others are scaling back or abstaining entirely—another possible effect of the pandemic, which is linked to a significant uptick in alcohol consumption. For teetotalers, non-alcoholic beers and wines from brands like Gruvi, pre-made mocktails, booze-free spirits, and functional alternatives like HOP WTR (a sparkling beverage inspired by IPA that’s made with hops, adaptogens, and nootropics) are on the rise.
What it is: Increased ingredient transparency as a result of consumer interest and demand for quality that extends to pet and baby food.
Why it’s trending: Consumers have become more aware of the impact their diet has on their own overall health and wellbeing, and now they want to make sure the whole household is eating better. “People are almost feeding their pets better than they feed themselves,” Gera says, noting the increase in raw food for dogs and pet food brands offering ingredient tracing information. Plus, she notes, “everyone has a dog after COVID.”
Pet parents aren’t the only ones looking for better food options. “Parents want baby food with organic ingredients that are chemical-free and preservative-free,” Gera goes on. “They also want food with supportive capabilities, like digestive support.”
What it is: A continued expansion of the plant-based lifestyle trend, with people looking for new ways to replace the animal-based foods in their diets.
Why it’s trending: “People are really leaning into having a completely plant-based diet and are getting more adventurous with what they’re willing to try out,” Schneider-Martin says. While plant-based poultry isn’t that new, she has her eye on plant-based “eggs” made from nuts. Plant superfoods like mushrooms, and plant-based meat alternatives like Daring Foods and Beyond Meat, are predicted to remain popular as well.
The plant-based trend has been going strong for a while—but how does it square with the popularity of diets like paleo and keto, which rely heavily on animal products? According to James Ren, Thrive Market’s Senior Category Manager for Food, ultimately it’s less about the specific diet, and more about carb cutting. “Keto won’t always be the term that’s used, but low-carb will always be around. If you think back to the 1990s, it was Atkins. The one before keto was paleo. We’ll see what happens with the next one.” (In case you’re wondering, it is possible to be vegan and keto—we asked an expert.)
CBD + Collagen. “I don’t think they’re fully out, but they’re definitely on the back burner as new trends come in,” Gera says of these two superhero wellness ingredients. “People are looking for something else.” She predicts herbal remedies like mineral-rich maca and horsetail could take their place.
Supplement gummies. “We had just seen a huge boom in gummies over the last two years,” Geera says, but she thinks supplement sprays are poised to take over—perhaps because of the ongoing consumer desire to cut back on sugar.
Ultra-luxe skincare. Do you really need a $265 moisturizer? Not when you can find a genuinely comparable product for a fraction of the cost. “There have been a ton of affordable [skincare] brands popping up,” Gera says. “People are steering away from the more expensive brands when they realize that the more affordable brands will basically do the same thing.”
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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