A Look at 2022:
Who Your Customers Are and Upcoming Food Trends

As our markets recover and the “pent-up demand” continues to give us hope for strong headwinds of growth, it is important to take advantage of opportunities for repeat customers as well as tapping into new ones to help drive success into 2022. The question is, are you paying attention and adapting your offering based on what the greater marketplace is experiencing? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Know Your Customers: Generational Differences and Why This Matters
Are there distinct consumer trends within each generation? Absolutely! Researchers will always validate that age groups can be one of the most common predictors of consumer buying habits and attitudes. As our population continues to change, the generation Z and millennial groups continue to become more and more significant as they are leading the employment age groups. Meanwhile, baby boomers continue to exit the workplace in larger and larger numbers, particularly as seen during the COVID pandemic. If we look at the retirement trends in North America in the last 18 months, almost twice as many people retired, which means the market has been quickly evolving and we have to be prepared for up and coming demands of younger customers entering the workplace.
How do the underlying trends change our focus? Baby boomers were much more focused on “health”, whereas convenience and portability rank higher for the younger generations. Does this mean the demand for low fat and low-calorie items are going away? Not necessarily. Think about how carbonated beverage companies have responded; boomers flocked to “diet” sodas since their introduction, while millennials and generation Z customers prefer the “zero” based offerings. Both are meeting the demands of a different customer group, not replacing the other.
The opportunity for grab and go and impulse purchases will continue to grow, with millennials leading the way expecting to receive a seamless and contactless experience. Micro markets, new locations, and self-service areas will ensure we are responding to this growing experience.
Changing Tastes: Unique Flavour Trends to Watch in 2022
Every year Datassential, a leading market research company founded to help the food and beverage industry make smarter decisions, publishes their annual list of unique flavours to watch out for. While these up-and-coming trends have to start somewhere, it is important to watch what customers might be looking for to tap into the new and emerging trends. Topping this list is chicory root (a caffeine-free alternative to coffee); once again the demand for caffeine free alternatives continues to grow. Another interesting one to watch for is honeysuckle; this floral flavour can be seen as part of the rise in popularity of Mediterranean flavours. You may see it in teas or snacks with floral flavours; this will be an interesting trend to pay attention to. We can also expect to see a return of carob, a healthier replacement for chocolate. Dark chocolate was trending several years ago because of its health benefits. We can expect to see carob show up in drinks, snacks and baked goods. Other items to watch for include fermented honey, next level produce meaning exotic and colourful fruits and vegetables (think blue Java bananas), and more global menu items such as kheer (Indian desserts), next level curry (meaning curry dishes from many different countries), sudachi (a citrus fruit from Japan) used in drinks and cocktails, and guisada (a Mexican meat stew).  
What Does All of This Mean?
While some of the trends many not become mainstream, or will be long-lasting, it is important to stay informed to ensure that you are aware of what is driving your customer’s behaviour, and who your customers are. This will allow you to evaluate what opportunities make sense for your business so you can tailor your product and service offering to meet expectations and cash in on relevant trends. 
Need assistance in sourcing items for your vending, office coffee, or micro-market operation? Let Complete Purchasing Services (CPS) vending (formerly Univend) help you to find the perfect mix of products for your customer base. Whether you are looking for comforting, traditional, or new and on-trend products, take advantage of CPS’ “Best Value” pricing on hundreds of essential items and assistance from a dedicated locally-based Account Manager.
About the Author:
Brian Emmerton is a Registered Dietitian and the Vice President and General Manager of Complete Purchasing Services Inc, a leading supply chain solutions provider for hospitality and non-commercial clients in Canada. Brian has been working in foodservice and consumer affairs for over 30 years to help clients keep up to date on consumer trends and opportunities that help drive revenue and repeat business. Learn more about Complete Purchasing Services by visiting eCPS.ca.

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