EAST HANOVER, NJ. – Mondelez International, Inc. sees six trends impacting the foodservice category in 2022. Most notably, social responsibility initiatives and more automation will make its way onto menus and into stores in the coming year, according to the company.

Some consumers will continue to seek brands that align with their personal values and beliefs. In order to set themselves apart, operators will need to find ways to connect to these customers. Social responsibility issues Mondelez sees resonating with consumers include reducing food waste, ethical sourcing and social justice.

The challenge of finding and retaining labor will push more foodservice operators to adopt more automation, according to Mondelez. While efficiency of operations is the main goal, automation also may make its way to menus with artificial intelligence applications that make suggestions to consumers.

Four other trends identified include new takes on comfort food, expansion of grab-and-go concepts, entertainment and further growth of plant-based applications. Comfort food will remain in high demand in 2022 and diners will gravitate toward new versions of classic dishes, Mondelez said.

With eating at home remaining a dominant market trend, it’s important for non-commercial foodservice operators to expand their range of grab-and-go offerings, according to Mondelez. For those consumers wanting to dine in, it’s important to consider the experiential side of menus and premises. Mondelez predicts more “eatertainment” venues and offerings will emerge in the coming year.

Finally, Mondelez sees the growth of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives continuing in the foodservice category. The company pointed to younger consumers as a driver, with nearly half of Gen Z consumers saying they are willing to try plant-based meat.