5 Food R&D Trends For 2022

food r&d trends

After unprecedented change across the globe due to the Pandemic, it has resulted in a shift in food & drink persona’s and innovations. The food industry is one of the most important sectors in the world, but is constantly faced with the task to try and overcome issues such as overpopulation, supply chains, sustainability, health standards, packaging, mobility and more, which means the need for constant innovation/R&D is important.

From R&D that is focused on sustainable visions for the future of the food industry, optimising existing food systems to better flavour, health standards and convenience, experimenting with ground-breaking food technology to focusing food research and development for scientific/medicine use, there are numerous different food R&D trends that will be developed in 2022.


  1. Sustainability

It comes as no surprise that one of the top Food Industry Innovations to watch out for in 2022 is Sustainability. The food industry has been reported to be one of the most damaging industries globally, with ever growing populations creating a huge gap between food supply and demand. Several million tonnes of food is wasted every single day, and even in the UK, consumers waste more than 1.9 million tonnes of food yearly, which is equivalent to the weight of The Golden Gate Bridge two and half times.

Consumers have shifted their importance from personal health to the health of the planet being their top concern. Joint responsibility for the impact that we have on the world is leading consumer choices more than ever, according to a Global Lifestyle & Attitude Survey by Innova, when it comes down to food choices there are two environmental factors that people are taking, which are to reduce waste (43% of participants) and to eat in moderation (32%).

Changed eating habits will assist the food industry to become more eco-friendly overtime, with consumers needing to eat larger varieties of foods instead of sticking to the same foods. 75% of the world’s food supply comes from just 12 plants and 5 animal species (WWF), but this will need to change to decrease damage to nature and lower the threat of food security.

Some examples of foods that are recommended by WWF  to take the profound strain off the food industry are seaweed, beans and pulses, cereals, grains, fruit vegetables such as okra and even leafy greens such as beet greens and kale. A wider variety of food eaten by consumers will help farmers around the world, especially in countries that find it difficult to break into the food market due to challenging climates.


  1. Plant-based diet innovations/flexitarians

Leading a vegetarian/vegan diet has gained traction over previous years, and it is only getting bigger. The demand for products that replicate tastes and textures of meat and any other animal-based foods is prominent, with consumers seeking a healthier lifestyle and diet. Plant based diets offer extensive benefits compared to a diet based around animal-products as these types of diets minimise the risks of health related complications such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Recommended by scientists, vegetarian and vegan diets offer an extremely varied diet, and the food industry’s most ground-breaking discoveries are centred around research and development of vegan food alternatives, hoping to entice more people around the world to up-take these diets. Through the use of ground breaking food technology and robotics, more plant-based options will breakthrough onto the mainstream menu without making people feel like they need to hugely compromise to do so.

Human sensory perception is an extremely difficult concept, our brains are wired to register the flavours, tastes and textures that each of our individual palettes enjoy. Some plant-based foods can be harder to categorize and be registered as unfamiliar, strange and unsettling which are referred to by food scientists as “off-notes”. To synthesize the dairy products, a flavour cocktail is built up by food scientists to cancel out any ‘off-notes’ on your palette through the use of strong flavours such as chocolate or caramel.

When it comes to synthesizing meat, it can be extremely difficult because when meat is cooked, a chemical process takes place that is entirely unique to animal proteins, machines that can replicate the muscles and structures of an animal are being developed to achieve the taste of meat, and technologies such as extrusion can mimic the way that protein, fat and water are organised within plant-based meat replica’s to taste the same, technologies such as the two mentioned above will penetrate the market even further in 2022, bringing new and improved vegetarian/vegan diets.

The flexitarian diet is also a rising food R&D trend for 2021/2022, it is the act of eating meat but on a smaller scale, this is a great alternative for people that want to be more conscious of their meat consumption without completely cancelling it out altogether. Reducing meat consumption by as little as 10% has been shown to deliver huge benefits, not just for a person’s health but also for the environment and the welfare of animals.


  1. Mental & Physical Health Food Research

The link between food and mental health has been an ongoing topic of research for not only food scientists, but also within psychological studies. The relationship between what you eat and how you feel mentally will be at the forefront of food R&D trends, with holistic well-being and food colliding as it is a well known fact that what you eat can have profound effects on your mood, energy levels and even the way that you think.

Protein is known to be full of amino acids which are vital to ensuring that your brain works and is regulating your thoughts and feelings, it also helps to control blood sugar levels to stop you from feeling lethargic or tired all of the time. The link between Omega-3 and dopamine and serotonin transmission is being actively researched across the world, with psychologists exploring the role that Omega-3 fatty acids can have on the brain.

By using innovative food & drink formulations to offer solutions for mental and emotional wellbeing, new foundations can begin to develop for younger generations to follow, new emerging markets can be created and new unity opportunities for communities to balance a person’s individual needs to feel unique and special with the desire to become part of like-minded communities. Social media and digitally influenced food will gain traction in 2022, with opportunities for new tech companies to bring food communities closer through new delivery methods, networking platforms, and digital food discovery apps.

Food is no longer purely for the function of consumption, but it is now seen as an extension of an individual, consumers expect brands to create connections and reflect a customers personal and social beliefs and values, rather than just to be eaten.


  1. Gut Microbiomes/Functional prebiotic beverages

Microbiome research, commercialisation and product development is one of the top predicted food R&D trends in 2022 due to the extensive health benefits that it presents. It is becoming the key to better understanding of health and nutrition, the human microbiome is indeed the crucial moderator in the interactions between food and the human body, with the possibilities for it to change our mind and health status, develop/fight against disease such as cancer, allergies, obesity and more.

“The key to progress in the future will be to use and exploit additional, newly emerging disciplines such as metagenomics to complement patient information and to bring our understanding of diseases and the interrelation and effects of nutritional molecules to the next level.” – Dirk Hadrich

More food products will be fortified with probiotics and prebiotics that help support a healthy gut and digestive system, boosting immunity and overall health is extensive to the global recovery from Covid-19, and with binge eating or unhealthy eating habits taking place during National Lockdowns, more people have emerged post-lockdown wanting to better their health and cut out the unhealthy snacks. Consumers are starting to take more interest in foods that benefit their health and are proven to do so, so in 2022, many food scientists will place focus on developing new recipes to help introduce prebiotics and probiotics onto supermarket shelves for all consumers.


  1.  Pandemic Response Food Products

Immune boosting foods, enhanced ingredients that bring better smell and taste to foods and textural innovations are all at the forefront of innovative plans within the Food Industry. With the Covid-19 pandemic affecting all of us worldwide, it is no surprise that this will be taking the lead with food innovations in 2022.

Wholesome and natural ingredients, reduced sodium, products including CBD and high protein foods that have immune boosting ingredients have been proven to gain popularity since the Pandemic, with R&D breakthroughs leading to opportunities for Marketers to promote products that have huge health benefits backed up by science. Consumers are hyper-educated and more vigilant than ever, and are forever unravelling brands’ clean labels claims which will continue to be the driving force of food industry innovations in 2022. A sharp rise in companies that are actively seeking a non-GMO (genetically modified organism) certification is a proving factor for this, with one third of businesses using this certification to prove transparency to their consumers.

A micro-trend that falls under this umbrella for pandemic response food products is the “make-at-home” trend. This comes in response to global lockdowns leading to consumers having to cook at home and spending more time in super-markets than restaurants. Subscription meal kits and home delivery services will be on the rise with more efficient business models, being more accessible to more people via more supermarkets offering meal kits at lower prices.

To conclude, the food R&D trends in 2022 will be conducting life-changing research and development, to place extensive focus upon being an ethical solution for their consumers ever-changing needs to suit lifestyles, the industry will also be seeking to invest in environmental preservation and the future of sustainable food while being transparent to their consumers, all while innovating and finding new ways to bring communities together within food networks.


To find out more about R&D Tax Credits for the Food Industry, click here.