ARNHEM, THE NETHERLANDS – Sustainability leads Innova Market Insights’ list of consumer trends heading into 2022. The market researcher said the top two environmental actions consumers are taking when making food choices are reducing waste and eating in moderation.

“One of the biggest shifts we are seeing is that the health of the planet is now the top concern of consumers,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of global insights. “Personal health has been the big concern for the past few years, but consumers now tell us that this has been surpassed by global issues. Sustainability is no longer just a Wall Street issue. It might not be the top purchase driver for all consumers, but for many it clinches the deal when it comes to choosing between products.”

Consumer interest in plant-based innovation is Innova’s No. 2 trend, but is linked to interest in sustainability. When asked their reasons for interest in plant-based alternatives, consumers told Innova they consider such products to be healthier and better for the planet. Consumer desire for diet variation is further boosting interest in plant-based beyond the traditional vegan and vegetarian sectors, leading to a 59% increase in launches of new plant-based products in the year to August 2021, according to the market researcher.

Advances in technology have created innovation opportunities for the food and beverage industry and those technologies are the group’s No. 3 trend. Citing research from its consumer survey, Innova Market Insights said consumers are willing to embrace changes such as new food technologies or sharing data if they can be shown to be beneficial to personal or global health.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on meal occasions came in as the No. 4 trend. Consumers have a greater awareness of the comforts and possibilities of home and are now seeking more when they go out. This means food and beverage manufacturers will be pushed to better serve the evolving consumption occasions and formulate products geared to the new expectations of consumers.

Finally, Innova Market Insights noted consumers are getting more personal when it comes to their food choices and looking for products manufactured by companies and brands that align with their political, social and ethical values. Further, the group said if consumers can’t find such products that entrepreneurs are taking action to develop products that align with their values.