The food industry’s growth doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Food is vital for our health, and people tend to have strong opinions on what’s good or bad food — and everyone needs to eat. It’s no wonder new bakeries, restaurants, pop ups, and home-based food businesses are popping up every day! There are new ideas for food popping up all the time, from cookie shops with outrageously fun flavors, to mobile food trucks serving homestyle dishes, and mom and pop shops selling baked goods. The options of what to make and sell are, needless to say, endless.
Many online food business ideas have been born from passion or hobbies-turned-money-makers, where an artisan has already spent time honing and crafting their perfect recipe. But if you haven’t settled on a specific product, there is always room to experiment and find untapped markets as the trends and niche categories around food continue to grow.
Which foods will be the top sellers in 2022? We’ve found predictions on the culture of food this year, and research is pointing toward these products:
Priyanka Naik, a vegan chef, claims, “From their medical and healing benefits to [their ability to] mimic meat, fungi is the next avocado.” It is quite a bold statement to claim that an ingredient like mushrooms will be as loved and used as the avocado, but it might just be right. Mushrooms come in many different forms and can be prepared in many different ways, something that the vegetarian and vegan communities are already well aware of. Even mushroom foraging has started trending on TikTok, leading to more urban farms and foragers stepping up to fulfill the demand.
Coffee and Coffee Alternatives
Regardless of if it’s coffee or not, caffeine is what matters to us in the mornings. A cup of joe has become serious business for many, and people aren’t settling for a basic coffee anymore. Consumers are changing their coffee preferences, and many want something more extravagant than what comes out of the Folgers can. On the other hand, coffee alternatives are also increasing in popularity, likely due to extreme weather affecting the harvest of coffee and causing coffee prices to be at an all time high. Food innovators have created alternatives that include drinks that imitate the taste of coffee, as well as other caffeinated drinks that can replace coffee, like energy drinks and tea.
Condiments and Vinegars
Eating at home became more popular in 2020 and 2021 out of necessity, but its popularity will remain strong among American families. That doesn’t reduce the fact that cooking can be a chore sometimes. For the days when you just don’t feel like cooking, a fun or unique condiment can go a long way in ensuring a tasty meal for the family.
There are nearly endless opportunities for innovation in the sauce category, as even big food companies compete to create new condiments. (Remember “mayochup?” Yeah, we thought so.) The world of condiments has a lot of room to play, especially when more bold and diverse flavors are introduced to the condiments we are using. Vinegars are also a household staple, and produce, spices, and other fresh ingredients are being used to create fun and interesting flavors. Today, you’ll even find vinegars being used for mixers in cocktails and sodas. Hot sauces, salsas, dipping sauces, barbecue sauces, dressings, relishes, chutneys… the list of potential sauces is endless, and so are the food business opportunities here.
Did you grow your own sourdough starter and learn to bake your own bread at the beginning of the pandemic? Well, these airy almond meringue cookies are said to be the new sourdough. Macarons stem from a recipe that’s difficult enough to keep home bakers occupied for quite some time, and these sweets are something a cottage baker’s customers are sure to enjoy. New cookie shops are popping up and unique cookie flavors are keeping customers satisfied, and macarons are a fast-growing part of the cookie category. Cookies in general are a popular choice for home-based food entrepreneurs because cottage food laws typically permit the sale of baked goods. Cookies are also taking the e-commerce world by storm — cookies are the fastest growing and largest category of the e-commerce food websites built on Castiron. Macarons can be created in a variety of bold flavors, can easily be shared with others or as a gift, and can eaten on any occasion, making them a popular choice for customers.
Other notable mentions for food trends are chewy foods like gummies and other candies, allergy-friendly foods, ice cream snacks, edible tableware and utensils, and products that are made with hibiscus.
In general, if you’re looking for a market to enter with your food business, you should consider what you’re passionate about making and start there. If you’re still in need of food business inspiration, explore some of these niche food markets that are popular to purchase online:
- Health-conscious (plant-based products, healthy snacks, immunity boosting foods, organic)
- Custom or novelty baked goods (holiday cookies, birthday cakes, personalized subscription boxes)
- Lifestyle or religious food products (vegan, vegetarian, kosher)
- Foods that cater to dietary restrictions (allergen free, gluten free, nut free)
- Gourmet or artisanal foods
- Global flavors (African, Indian, and Indigenous foods are some of the most popular cuisines in 2022)
- Purpose driven food (fine dining, social activity, camping, meal-prepping, pre-made — nearly a quarter of Castiron’s artisans food type are pre-made meals.)
The concept of “DM to order” and selling food from home grew exponentially in 2020 when the pandemic initially hit. The trend continues to grow today, especially as states revisit and relax their cottage food laws.
What once started out as a hobby has easily turned into a job that has the potential to be a perfect fit for your preferences and lifestyle needs. From there, states are making it easier than ever for individuals to sell directly to their customers, through a variety of channels, and with a variety of menu items. The idea of artisans selling their own cottage foods is a growing space that offers plenty of upside for both creators and consumers alike. Whether or not you’re selling one of these trendy food items, the passion behind your product is what will truly set your products apart from the rest.