Food 2022: Nestlé USA’s Predictions for the Next Big Thing in Food

Consumer tastes evolve quickly, and so do the innovators at Nestlé USA

Alicia Enciso
Dec 6, 2021 · 5 min read

Food is not static. Our tastes change, our priorities rearrange, and the way we enjoy food and beverages evolve as a result. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the ways we buy and consume our favorite brands — and Nestlé has continued to lead the way on bringing the latest exciting trends to your kitchen.

As Chief Marketing Officer at Nestlé USA, I’m so proud to work with an agile, innovative team who always have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening on grocery store shelves across America. As we look forward to 2022, these are some of the trends we’re most excited about in the coming year.

The plant-based boom is here to stay, driven by evolving consumer priorities.

Every day, more Americans are embracing plant-based options as part of an increasingly popular flexitarian diet. In 2020, 57% of American households purchased plant-based foods.

Consumers choose flexitarian or plant-based diets for many reasons, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that, especially in younger generations, sustainability is driving the popularity of plant-based foods. According to our data, as many as 65% of Gen-Z Americans want to adopt a plant-forward diet, and 55% say they’re more likely to buy environmentally friendly products.

At Nestlé, we’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it. We also want to provide plant-based foods that taste great and become new household favorites, which is why globally we have 300 dedicated research and development employees focused solely on bringing you new plant-based foods. From our Sweet Earth Mindful Chik’n and Awesome Burger plant-based proteins, to Starbucks non-dairy creamers — we’re excited to continue innovating in this space in 2022.

Working from home has inspired a breakfast and lunch revolution.

Working remotely has changed so many things about our lives — the way we connect with family and friends, the way we show up for work, and the foods we choose to enjoy during mealtimes. Breakfast and lunch have changed enormously in the past year with more people eating both occasions at home than pre-pandemic. What once used to be a coffee date with a colleague may now look like a relaxing moment with your barista-inspired coffee creation.

With this increased interest in breakfast and lunch at home, those meals have become innovation battlegrounds. As we look to 2022, food companies need to ensure we’re meeting consumers in this new hybrid space, providing the best options for these meals. Nestlé USA’s portfolio is well positioned for this challenge — offering a broad variety of convenient and flavorful options for breakfast and lunch.

In fact, we’ve already expanded our offerings for these mealtimes by adding Freshly to our family of brands. Freshly continues to innovate to deliver prepared meals to your door — most recently introducing plant-based options and multi-serve formats. From the comfort of lunch with Stouffer’s, to the convenience of Sweet Earth breakfast options, Nestlé will continue to lead the way.

Grocery store shelves increasingly live online, and e-commerce adoption will only speed up.

In the past, consumers would either buy their groceries online or in-store. That behavior has changed, and many consumers are now buying from both, recognizing the unique benefits of each option. Spending more time at home has changed the landscape of e-commerce, and our research indicates that many shoppers will not return to pre-COVID behaviors — as many as 85% say they will continue to use online shopping a year from now.

This is a gamechanger. Fortunately, our innovative culture at Nestlé USA has prepared us for this shift, and we’re ready to meet consumers wherever they need us, whether that be in the traditional grocery aisle or the digital one. This year we already evolved our delivery models, leveraging strong partnerships with UberEats, GrubHub, and DoorDash to enable home delivery of popular products like Chameleon Cold Brew, Stouffer’s Lasagna, and Nestlé Toll House Cookies.

This is just the beginning of what we can do in this space — we’re ready to meet consumers wherever they need us in the evolving e-commerce landscape.

America’s increasing diversity and the power of social trends are encouraging consumers to try global flavors at home.

For many of us, local restaurants in our community are a gateway to world cuisine. So, when restaurants closed in early 2020, many Americans were looking for ways to bring international flavors they loved home to their kitchen. Social media became a driver of this trend — with an increasingly diverse group of American and international content creators sharing exciting ways to bring authentic cuisine and niche flavors home.

Our brands have innovated to meet these flavor needs — Sweet Earth introduced plant-based Chipotle Chik’n and Korean BBQ Style Chik’n shreds, while Maggi’s selection of bouillons, soups, sauces and seasonings champion home cooking with new and exciting international flavors.

For our increasingly multicultural consumers, what we may describe as international flavors are a taste of home, and we want to make it easier for those consumers to access familiar flavors they know and love. As a global company, we’re excited to continue leading worldwide trends that make their way to American kitchens — as consumer palettes develop, there is always something new to discover.

Consumer tastes evolve quickly, and so do the innovators at Nestlé USA.

I’m so proud of everyone at this company for the work we’ve done to stay ahead of the curve — not to follow trends, but to lead them. We’ll keep up that pioneering work in 2022. I can’t wait to see where it takes us next.

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