You don't need incredible powers of prediction to know that the restaurant sector is having a brutal time of it right now and that is unlikely to get better any time soon.
For obvious reasons, the traditionally
profitable festive season has not happened and many restaurants will feel the
chill more than usual in January and February.
The good news is that the restaurant industry is incredibly innovative. New places will open - check Wino in Partick - and restaurateurs will develop fresh dishes to tickle even the most jaded of palates. To see what 2022 might promise the eager diner, we have chewed our way through several sets of foodie forecasts including the Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2021-2022; Whole Foods Market's Top Ten Food Trends; The Food People's Top 10 New and Rising Trends 2021 - 2022 and the always entertaining, annual report from global food and restaurant consultancy Baum+Whiteman.
What will not come as a surprise is that many of us are eating less meat for ethical, environmental and health reasons. This is an ongoing trend that has been around for years but seems to be accelerating. People who might once have considered themselves to be flexitarians now have a new label to get their gums around: reducetarianism. These are people who, like all reality TV contestants, are on a journey and their final destination is meat-free. However, on route the meat they do eat is very carefully sourced with much value placed on animals that have been well reared. While the more conscientious reducetarian won't insist that their chicken went to a Swiss finishing school, they are more likely to buy meat which is free range or organic.
This is part of a wider trend for products that are perceived to be good for not only the consumer but also the planet. Whole Foods Market pinpoints grains that improve soil health, functional fizz with added probiotics and more buzz-free mocktails for the 'sober-curious'.
Baum+Whiteman forecast a growing number of automated kitchens where robots do much of the prep grunt work and free up the human staff to work on plating and presentation. Covid and Brexit have slashed the catering workforce and an army of culinary R2D2s may be part of the solution.
On a more frivolous note, hibiscus, yuzu and moringa (main pic from wiki) have all been touted as ultra-fashionable ingredients of 2022. According to Waitrose, dinner parties will be back with a vengeance although we suspect that many of them will be held around fire pits rather than tables. BBQ equipment remains in high demand.
One prediction that we fully support is that espresso martinis are to remain extremely popular. We will drink to that. And one prediction that we can't endorse is that 2022 will be the year that something called potato milk goes mainstream. Just say 'No', kids.