Association identifies restaurant trends on the horizon for 2022

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      Every year, even pandemic years, have their restaurant trends. In 2020, they included Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches, nondairy milks, sriracha mayo, and those ubiquitous poké bowls.

      In the grocery stores, it was nondairy milks, whether they’re made from oats, almonds, soy, coconut, or cashews. Some offer better hydration; others have fewer calories.

      Another draw is that these milks don’t come from methane-emitting cattle, which is a definite plus for climate keeners. They’re also great for the lactose-intolerant and for the vegans among us. However, they’re not always as affordable as dairy milk.

      Just in time for 2022, Restaurants Canada has released its list of food trends to watch for in the new year. The national nonprofit association represents establishments with more than 80,000 locations and more than one million employees.

      Here are some things that the association is expecting to gain greater favour with consumers.

      Buzzless Spirits

      Health-conscious consumers are less inclined to get pie-eyed after work in the bar than back in the ’80s and ’90s. Companies like Grüvi and Seedlip are trying to cash in by offering nonalcoholic beverages for those who want to hang out with friends while remaining clear-eyed the morning after.

      Ingredient Awareness

      Nutrients are king for those who want to boost their immunity. And Restaurants Canada expects this to move up on consumers’ priority lists in the coming year.

      Adaptogenic food and beverage

      This phrase is a bit of a mouthful. It actually refers to products that not only benefit physical health but also promote mental well-being.

      “Beverage brands like Boreal Botanical Brewing are stepping the game up with adaptogenic drinks, beverages that contain ingredients which work to prevent the effect of stress on the body,” Restaurants Canada states. “Even the superfood beetroot is finally joining ingredients front and centre as a nutritional and circulatory health powerhouse in Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s new Grass Fed Organic Beetroot Honey Yogurt.”


      If you can get cannabis, liquor, and a McDonald’s Big Mac delivered, why not fresh produce direct from the farm? A Toronto company, Bae Greens, promotes vertical farming of microgreens in the city. Products are harvested, delivered, and enjoyed on the same day through deliveries. Meanwhile, Whistler Harvest Farm is a collection of indoor growers whose members grow microgreens and other agricultural products in its 1,200-square foot facility. Its members take orders online.

      Robots to the rescue

      Earlier this year, the Straight reported that an Edmonton company, GreenCo Robots, has created mechanical assistants to busy servers. These robots debuted in B.C. in Happy Lamb Hot Pot in Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre.

      Restaurants Canada expects to see more touchless ordering, digital menus, and, yes, robots in the dining industry in the coming year. The best thing for servers is that they don’t have to share their tips with a machine.

      365 days of alfresco dining

      COVID-19 stimulated tremendous interest in patio dining. The highly contagious Omicron variant is likely going to intensify that desire. It’s also spurring an industry in the patio-creating business with companies like Unichairs Inc. and Pop Up Street Patios offering solutions to beleagured restaurateurs.

      Canada, of course, is a cold country. Just witness what B.C. residents experienced in the days after Christmas. But other companies, like Bum Contract and Mensa Heating, have figured out how to keep patios toasty even when the thermometer is dipping lower.

      If we learned anything during the past 22 months, it’s that the restaurant industry has remained resilient in the face of unprecedented adversity.