Utopia Gastronomica

Hospitality Trends 2022: Looking Into the Future

From sustainability to Ghost Kitchen: Discover the 7 hospitality industry trends that experts expect to see in 2022.

My article series, Utopia Gastronomica, has been around for more than two years. In these articles, I always report on the latest concepts and innovations in the restaurant and hotel industry. This time, I'm looking into the future and examining which hospitality trends 2022 will bring.

Regarding this topic, the Food Report, published annually by nutritionist Hanni Rützler, is particularly worthy to mention. In these reports, she analyzes important developments, ideas and concepts for the food and hospitality industry. The year 2022 will be marked by the COVID-19-related changes. These will continue to have an impact on our consumer behavior and lifestyles, even after the crisis.

The path to a new normality

The COVID-19 crisis has changed our consumption and eating behavior, and brought with it a new understanding of nutrition. In this sense, the pandemic has led to a new normal. Buying groceries online, enjoying food and drinks from your favorite restaurant at home, or registering online in advance when visiting a restaurant – these are just some of the things that have become normal since the COVID-19 crisis.

Even beyond the pandemic, these habits will remain. So, the restaurant industry must adapt to the changing needs of the new normal. Next year's trends show that foodservice operations need much more than innovative concepts, such as cocktails to go or at-home cooking boxes. Instead, the focus will be on sustainability issues and a healthier dining culture.

→ Discover the restaurant trends for 2023

Trend No. 1: Ghost Kitchen on the rise

In a previous Utopia Gastronomica article, I described the relevance of ghost kitchens to the restaurant industry. These will become more important in the upcoming years.

Since Ghost Kitchens are delivery-only restaurants that operate solely online, they offer numerous advantages for a wide variety of hospitality businesses, compared to traditional restaurants. For example, with Ghost Kitchens, capacities are not tied to seating and occupancy, as everything is done online. In addition, the cost is considerably lower than for traditional restaurants. This is because these entail costs for rent, furnishing, equipment, and service staff. Another advantage that make Ghost Kitchens attractive for restaurateurs, is the possibility of attracting new customers. These can be reached by offering food deliveries on various online ordering platforms.

Delivery services will also be a trend for the hospitality industry in 2022.

Trend No. 2: Delivery services are preferred

The increasing importance of Ghost Kitchens is linked to the delivery of food and drinks. Even though restaurants are open again, a large proportion of people still prefer to have their food delivered to their homes. This also shows a survey conducted throughout Germany in 2020. According to the data, one in two people in Germany order food home online, more often than since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The popularity of meal delivery is also reflected in market volume forecasts. According to these, the market is expected to reach a value of $154.34 billion worldwide by 2023.

Download: Checklist for how to set up own delivery service for restaurants

Trend No. 3: A sustainable future

One of the biggest hospitality trends, that experts say will be in the spotlight in 2022 relates to sustainability. Here, the motto is zero waste. This is a lifestyle that seeks to completely avoid the creation of waste. Regarding this, our society has begun to reflect and question their own consumer behavior, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This development has been indicated, for example, by the EU-wide ban on single-use plastic, such as straws, crockery, and cutlery, which has been enforced since July 3, 2021.

The hospitality industry will also not be able to avoid dealing with this issue, for example, by developing solutions to avoid material waste as well as food waste. Platforms already exist, where hospitality businesses can offer their leftover food at a reduced price. Apart from this, there are other ways to avoid food waste in the hospitality industry. For example, restaurateurs can make a significant contribution at the procurement stage, by thoroughly planning and preparing the purchase of ingredients in advance. Other areas that restaurateurs can address include, menu planning, portion sizes, or storage and inventory.

Trend No. 4: Local Exotics

Another hospitality trend predicted for 2022 represents a culinary paradox. During COVID-19 times, regionality is even more valued and focused on. At the same time, however, the lockdowns created a yearning for new culinary discoveries and exotic delights. This trend is referred to as Local Exotics, which attempts to resolve this contradiction. For example, fruit and vegetable varieties are now also being grown in this country, when originally, they came from faraway lands. Some examples of this can already be found in Austria, such as rice, sea fish, wasabi, figs, or ginger.


Trend No. 5: Real Omnivore

In addition to Local Exotics, the shift in food culture is also seen in this trend: Real Omnivore. Unlike vegetarians, vegans, and flexitarians, this trend is not about abstaining from certain foods, but rather being open-minded about all foods – including more unusual ones, such as offal, in-vitro meat, or insects. At the heart of Real Omnivore is a responsible eating culture that includes the health of the planet.

Trend No. 6: Vegourmets

Plant-based diets have been an important part of our society. We will see more vegetable-rich cuisine in the foodservice industry in 2022. At the heart of this development is the concept of vegourmet – a neologism that combines the terms "vegetarian" or "vegan" and "gourmet." After all, upscale cuisine does not automatically have to include meat, fish and other animal products. At plant-based gourmet restaurants, creations made from vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, or herbs are served, so much so, that the taste of animal products is not missed.

In 2022, regional and healthy food will be even more in focus.

Trend No. 7: E-Food

As I explained at the beginning of this article, the COVID-19 crisis has led to a new normal. A key aspect of this is the sale of food and meals via digital distribution channels – so-called E-Food. This enables new ways of networking, allowing multiple companies to get in touch with each other and exchange ideas. Examples of this are food sharing initiatives or online tastings.

What we already know about the state of the restaurant industry (Q3 2022)

The Restaurant Trends Report by Toast sheds light on the overall state of the restaurant industry in the U.S. and presents its key findings of Q3 for 2022:

  • Burgerflation: Inflation remained the highest it's been in decades. For example, the menu price for a cheeseburger has seen a 20 % increase in three years. In Q3 of 2022, the average price was $11.74.

  • Tipping: Despite rising prices, diners continued to tip well, especially in full-service restaurants. However, the average tip percentage varies across the country, with Indiana having the highest average tip percentage.

  • Top-performing cuisine: Chinese cuisine was the top-performing cuisine in Q3 of 2022 with an 11.3 % increase in YOY sales, followed by Thai and Middle Eastern.

The future can come

According to the opinions of experts, the year 2022 will be marked by COVID-19-related changes and developments, which will be noticeable in hospitality industry trends. What we'll see next year in particular, is a growing popularity for sustainability. This ranges from waste reduction methods, to changing consumption and eating habits.

For restaurateurs, it will be essential to keep up with the trends and think about which ones they can implement in their own operations. As shown during the COVID-19 crisis, it is worthwhile to tackle new and innovative concepts, and to adapt to the circumstances as well as possible.

This post was originally published on October 5, 2021 and has been updated in December 2022 for comprehensiveness.

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