PHILADELPHIA — Sustainability, health and wellness, and individual foods and flavors are three trends to keep an eye on heading into 2022, according to Philadelphia Macaroni Co. (PMC), a producer of dry and frozen pasta for the industrial ingredient, private label retail and co-pack channels.

PMC noted that consumers increasingly are shopping locally and as a result are gravitating toward foods that are grown using sustainable farming practices such as regenerative agriculture. Another action falling under the sustainability umbrella is food waste responsibility. PMC said more organizations are developing upcycled foods from byproducts, including brewers’ spent grain that is being transformed into high-fiber pasta. Vertical farms also are on the rise, a move PMC said may lead to more food on less land and with less water.

Health and wellness is a trend that pre-dates the coronavirus pandemic, but PMC expects it to continue to flourish in 2022 as consumers remain interested in “better-for-you” foods.

“This includes growing interest in plant-based foods and diets (supported by innovation in the plant-based protein market), and the desire to incorporate natural ingredients into meals and snacks,” PMC said. “Pasta provides the perfect groundwork for a plant-based meal.”

PMC said vegan and vegetarian offerings also are becoming more widely available, appealing to consumers across a range of diets and dietary restrictions. The health and wellness trend also is evident in the beverage sector, where a notable uptick in interest is taking place in functional drinks.

Finally, flavors will attract consumers’ eyes as they seek to “spice up their diets,” PMC said.

“We see flavor experimentation playing a big role in the mac and cheese category,” PMC noted. “While classic cheddar remains a popular choice, top flavors also include bacon, Buffalo, truffle, and jalapeño — with asiago, blue cheese, and pepper jack cheese gaining traction.”