Top 4 Summer Food Trends in 2022

Over the past few summers, we have seen many food trends emerge and fade, more than ever before. It’s no secret that the pandemic did a number on the food industry, first by massively disrupting supply chains, then by changing people’s needs and expectations when it comes to food.

As a restaurant owner or chef, it’s incredibly important to keep track of what your customers crave – not just in terms of flavor, but also in terms of experience. Do they want to feed their nostalgia? Dust off some old recipes and bring on some comfort food. Do they want to be adventurous and experiment with new, foreign flavors? Give fusion cuisine a try. The possibilities are endless.

This summer, people are looking to celebrate their freedom and make the best of the hot months with colorful, refreshing dishes and drinks and plant-forward, health-conscious food. In some ways, people’s preferences for summer food don’t seem to have changed that much. But if we get down to specifics, you’ll begin to see how recent events have played a role in what people expect to see in a summer menu this season.

So, let’s start with the most predictable summer food trends and work our way to the most unexpected ones:

1. Grilled foods
This one is a no-brainer. Sun’s out, grill’s out. And that doesn’t just mean home BBQs. People enjoy the true taste of summer coming from fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits sizzling on the hot grill.

Meat, poultry and fish have traditionally been the go-to options for grilled dishes, but more and more people are discovering the value of fire-cooked produce, particularly since fire unlocks new sweet, smoky notes in most vegetables and fruits. The grill can easily power up an entire meal from start to finish (excluding desserts), from appetizers and sides to main courses.

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2. Creative salads

I know what you might be thinking: another obvious season favorite, the summer salad. Well, yes, but people now have higher expectations about what their salads should look and taste like. Sure, a classic Greek salad could get the job done, but the goal is to be bold with your combinations and add unexpected or lesser-known ingredients to really spice things up.

Don’t hesitate to replace popular ingredients like tomatoes with other seasonal crops such as stone fruits (bonus points for grilling them first), and don’t skip herbs and spices – the rarer, the better.

3. Health-conscious foods

Here we come into some potentially uncharted territory. Now, the plant-forward, wellness-centered food trend is not new, but it has really taken off in the last few years. People have been gravitating more towards plant-based foods, or at least towards reducetarian eating, which is a fancy way of saying that moderation is key. The way to tackle this trend is by making sure your menu offers something for everybody: meat-lovers, vegetarians, and everything in between.

Customers are now more likely to pay attention to how their food is sourced, how local and fresh it is and are even invested in the way this entire process affects the environment. So, in a way, the health-conscious food trend is also Earth-conscious, just making sure we give our planet the same level of care we give our bodies. Besides, plant-forward food tends to be lighter which is perfect in the hot summer weather.

4. Low-APV drinks and mocktails

For one reason or another, drinks with lower or no alcohol content have been drawing in more and more customers this summer. Compared to previous years, mocktails have gained a lot of popularity and they are a huge hit in the hot weather.

It’s easy to see why – they preserve the same amazing taste and colorful aesthetic of regular cocktails, without the potentially unpleasant side effects of alcohol consumption. Replacing spirits with additional fruit flavors and healthy nutrients is a win for everyone involved, and a great idea for when the weather gets too hot.

However you choose to implement these ideas into your restaurant’s summer dining plans, you can rest easy knowing you have a reliable ally at your disposal. Valley View Produce offers an amazing range of wholesale fresh fruits and vegetables that will come in handy as you’re cooking the best summer dishes for your customers inspired by this season’s food trends.