Would you like a glass of potato milk with your meal? Are you thinking of becoming a climatarian? And is TikTok really the place to find inspiration for recipes? Sophie Morris reports
Hello, is that 2022? Are we there yet? Whether you ended up with your ideal Christmas or a meal deal at the motorway services, many of us are keen to move past 2021 towards a more fulfilling future. It’s not easy to predict what we’ll be eating and drinking over the next 12 months, given we don’t even know if we’ll be allowed in the pub, but certain shifts in our habits, as analysed by large retailers and industry experts, can give us a sense of why the avocado is so over (not quite, but have you heard of climatarianism?) and why so many of us check our phones before we decide what to eat.
The TikTok effect If you want to know what the kids will be eating in 2022, tune into viral video network TikTok. From feta pasta to pesto eggs and pasta chips, supermarkets report a direct correlation between hit videos and sales hikes. The pesto clip was watched by 12 million users; presumably that was why 108 per cent more of the stuff sold in Waitrose in a single week. In October, as crunchy fried pasta appeared on TikTok, sales of air fryers rose by 400 per cent at John Lewis. We’ve previously seen the Delia or Nigella effect, when cooking shows and cookbooks influence shoppers, but with TikTok word travels much faster and much further than terrestrial telly ever could.
“Three-quarters of all 18- to 24-year-olds we surveyed told us they’ve been looking at TikTok or Instagram for food inspiration over the past year,” says Waitrose executive director James Bailey in the retailer’s latest food and drink report. “It’s made the food world a wonderfully intimate place. For example, a food trend might take off in South Korea and within a day half a million people over here are asking our in-store Waitrose partners: what’s this ingredient?”
” According to Laura Harricks, chief customer oficer at Ocado: “Culture has always influenced what we eat, and it seems the pandemic has amplified that even more. It’s never been more apparent that TV shows, TikTok, music and sporting events have influenced our purchasing habits.”
Crazy cakes Our love for show-stopping Great British Bake Off goodies is developing into an obsession with the wild, the wacky and the unwieldy. Baking reality shows Nailed It! and Sugar Rush have become international hits, while Netflix’s Baking Impossible pairs bakers with engineers - think Willy Wonka meets Gustave Eiffel over the Lakeland catalogue - to create outlandish mega bakes.
Image-sharing social media site Pinterest has identified likely consumer trends for 2022, and its crystal ball foresees a boom in “gravity-defying cake ideas” as well as 3D and art cakes. “People will craft elaborate cakes to express whatever mood they’re in,” explains the Pinterest Predicts 2022 report. “This trend is especially popular among millennials, Gen X and boomers.”
Sassy supermarkets Big retailers have taken to pushing their humorous sides via social media. Caterpillars Colin and Cuthbert dominated the spring news agenda as Marks and Spencer took Aldi to court, alleging the less costly retailer was copying its 30-year-old chocolate caterpillar cake. But Aldi soon won over the public with its quirky trolling, launching the #FreeCuthbert campaign across social media. The fight continues so expect more gags and stunts in the coming months. M&S is now suing Aldi for copying its gold-flake Christmas gin in a light-up bottle, while Aldi keeps the humour flowing, proclaiming its “ginnocence”. Aldi in Skegness hung out a giant “Kiss and Make Up” sign along with mistletoe for its neighbour, M&S. Meanwhile the Co-op account tweeted: “Makes note, do not add fairy lights to gin.”
British vodka Gold-flake or otherwise, we make enough gin here to swim in. And now British vodka is getting interesting too, with Black Cow Vodka from Dorset recently winning a BBC Food and Farming award for best drinks producer. Co-founder Jason Barber wanted to repurpose waste from the cheese process and developed the vodka by fermenting the whey, an ancient Mongolian tradition. Other UK vodkas include Chapel Down’s Chardonnay Vodka, Sapling, Chase, and Adnams Copper House Longshore vodka.
Plant milk party Though vegans can’t enjoy a glass of Black Cow, they’ll be better served than ever in the dairy-free milk department in 2022. Waitrose heralds the February arrival of Swedish brand Dug, an alternative milk made from potatoes. British oat farmer Glebe Farm has created PureOaty, coming to Morrisons in late January. Ocado brings us Lilk, which is blended from oats, quinoa and coconut, in early January. This market grew by a third in 2020, to £400m, with 32 per cent of us supping on one of these faux milks.
Eating green Call it plant-based, meat-free, flexitarianism or, if you’re the Waitrose Food and Drink Report, climatarianism, but 70 per cent of those asked told Waitrose that the carbon footprint of their food matters, while 82 per cent of Veganuary participants claim to go on to dramatically reduce their consumption of animal products when the month-long challenge ends. Giving up meat and dairy might seem an easy shortcut to eating for the planet, but it’s not the full picture; do your homework on where and how your new diet is produced. Other approaches to climate-friendly diets include reducing food waste and packaging. Ocado reports that 21 per cent of its customers are buying a refill item, up 10 per cent in two years.
Carbon neutral catering In an industry dogged by a culture of waste and excess, a great number of chefs, restaurants and food businesses are rebuilding how they do things from the ground up. Chains such as Wahaca and Nando’s are leading the charge towards zero carbon, while this year Jikoni, the chef and author Ravinder Bhogal’s London restaurant, became the first independent restaurant to go carbon neutral. Other businesses, such as Scotland’s Bruichladdich distillery on Islay and the Blacklock chophouse group are choosing B-Corp status - a movement which certifies high social and environmental performance - to display their ethics.
Deforestation dinners It is curious therefore, amid this push to sustainability, to hear the government crowing over its trade deal with Australia, which opens the door to hormone-treated beef and may cause losses of £94m to food, farming and agriculture and £225m to the semi-processed food sector.
“There’s little in this deal that will benefit British farmers or citizens,” says Soil Association head of food policy Rob Percival. “As British farmers are stepping up to meet the environmental challenges of this century, our government signs a deal that undercuts them. And as the British public declares its concern for animal welfare and the climate, we commit to importing deforestation-risk beef from a country ranked last out of 193 countries in the latest UN-backed Sustainable Development report.”
Fishy business A deal was agreed earlier this year permitting British fishermen to catch cod, haddock and hake in Norwegian waters, but we still export most of the catch from our own waters, including 80 per cent of shellfish. Devon chef Mitch Tonks has a new venture called Seafood at Home, giving the whole country access to the fresh catch at Brixham Market by packing and delivering interesting fish from boat to plate in 24 hours. A similar service called Pesky Fish sources from fishermen at both ends of the country. “As a rule, in the UK we don’t appreciate the bounty of seafood available to us,” says Tonks.
“A huge proportion of what we catch off the British isles is exported, and in its place we import from across the world, which is heartbreaking when you think of the incredible tasting, high-quality seafood our fishermen are able to produce on a daily basis.
“For too long the fish supply chain has meant that getting our hands on really fresh fish is only possible for those living by the sea. For the rest of us, our choices are what is available pre-packed and ‘fresh’ from the supermarkets, severely limiting not only our choice but the quality and provenance too.”
” On BBC iPlayer this month, the chef and former MasterChef winner Gary Maclean’s documentary Maorach - Hebridean Shelfish examines why we aren’t eating our own bounty.
Hibiscus is happening The tart blooms of the beautiful hibiscus flower have long been used by those with access to their distinctive flavour. In Mexico, hibiscus is dried and infused for tangy aguas frescas (a cold fruit drink), which are also great in cocktails. In West Africa, it’s made into a tea called bissap or zobo. Whole Foods is tipping it as a hot trend for 2022, as producers bring its high vitamin C content to fruit spreads and yogurts, part of a general increase in interest in a variety of African cuisines. Lopè Ariyo’s stunning cookbook Hibiscus is a good place to start.
Home and proud When life gives you lemons we might be oh so over Covid restrictions, but many of us have found the odd blessing in our time at home, insist the supermarkets whose deliveries we rely on. “The majority of people we surveyed told us the pandemic has fundamentally changed their outlook,” says Waitrose’s James Bailey. “They’re more conscious of their mental and physical health, they’re enjoying life’s simple pleasures and have embraced the importance of friends and family.”
Six in 10 of us take now greater pride in cooking than we did pre- Covid, and four in 10 say food is more important than it was before. And 49 per cent plan to go out less even during periods of light or no restrictions. They’re calling this the “homebody economy”. It doesn’t mean we’re hiding out - rather we’re having people over, splashing out on quality food and drink and trying out new cooking styles while we catch up with much missed friends and family, even spending big on outside areas. One in five bought a barbecue during lockdown, while one in 10 - sorry if this seems far-fetched, or maybe I live in the wrong neighbourhood - installed an outdoor bar. Cheese and wine, anyone?