Consumer tastes are constantly changing, as we’ve seen in our preview of 2022’s hottest food trends. For food and beverage companies, this provides continuous opportunities to create new products and expand current ranges. But which fast-growing food brands will continue their expansion over the next 12 months?
As a food labelling compliance specialist, Hooley Brown likes to keep an eye on what dynamic firms in our sector are doing. Here are 15 companies that we think will be food brands to watch in 2022:
1. The Artful Baker
Biscuit sales are surging, with the category set to surpass £3 billion in 2021. But in a crowded market, you need a different proposition to stand out.
The Artful Baker is transforming biscotti from an Italian coffee time snack into something distinctly British. Its savoury flavours can be used in lieu of cheese crackers, while serving suggestions for its sweet range include as a crunch topping for yoghurt and ice cream.
The company’s reimagined biscotti have already caught the attention of Warburtons, which has made a six-figure investment in The Artful Baker as part of its Batch Ventures innovation fund.
2. The Flava People
Home cooking has always been popular, but the pandemic took the art of creating restaurant-quality food in the kitchen stratospheric. And The Flava People have been on-hand to help hospitality brands capitalise on this trend.
The company partnered with Yo! Sushi in 2019 to create a range of supermarket sauces and condiments (plus a best-selling katsu curry crumb), which is sold in over 15,000 retail facings. Now, The Flava People have joined forces with Diageo to grow its Guinness brand in the food sector through Guinness cooking paste, glaze, oil marinade and complete sausage mix.
3. Insane Grain
Insane Grain is a fast-growing brand in the blossoming healthy snacks category and another beneficiary of Warburtons’ Batch Ventures fund,
The fundamental ingredient across its product range is sorghum, a supergrain used widely in Eastern food culture but that (currently) has a lower profile in the West.
Through sweet and savoury flavours, Insane Grain promotes the gut health, iron rich and low calorie benefits of its plant-based snacks. And its #AgainstTheGrain hashtag and use of mature actor Moe Goust as the face of the brand show that Insane Grain’s unique products are backed up by an eye-catching approach to marketing.
At the start of the year, Waitrose predicted that seaweed would be the superfood of 2021 – and Mara has turned the appetite for marine plants into a branded business opportunity.
Its sustainably harvested seaweed range is available in multiple formats including flakes, strips and powder. And it has also produced a furikake rice seasoning, made from chilli flakes, seaweed and sesame seeds.
After a strong year, Mara has received £600,000 investment from Marine Fund Scotland to build a new sea-to-shelf production facility, which will help the brand expand internationally in 2022.
Up until now, most health foods have focussed on ingredients for improving the body. In 2022, we’re going to see the concept of ‘mindful eating’ take a new direction with the growth of nootropics; consumable goods containing ingredients designed to enhance cognitive function.
At the forefront of the brain-boosting food movement is Mindright, which has created a selection of snacks and soluble food supplements to improve energy, focus and mood. And with celebrity backers including Joe Jonas and Travis Barker, Mindright has a massive consumer marketing reach.
Luxury confectionery brand Montezuma’s has come a long way since self-taught chocolate makers Helen and Simon Pattinson decided to bring a slice of South American sophistication to the British treats market in 2000.
Over the past two decades, Montezuma’s has built a loyal following thanks to its Business Done Properly values – which include quality ingredients and ethical sourcing. Its brightly coloured, eco-friendly packaging also captures the consumer’s eye!
After buildings its reputation online and through retail distribution channels, Montezuma’s launched its own retail network in 2021. The brand now has nine standalone stores, the most recent of which opened in Southampton’s Westquay shopping centre in September.
The successful intersection of food and technology is evident in the rapid growth of N!CKS! – a Swedish brand producing “healthy and indulgent” gluten-free, no added sugar snacks including chocolate, protein bars and ice cream.
N!CKS! was started by mechanical engineer Niclas Luthman, who wanted to recreate the foods he loved in a way that fit his pre-diabetic diet. The brand’s reach quickly spread across Europe and North America, and products are now available in 16 international markets.
N!CKS! ambitious 2022 growth plans will be boosted by the fact that the company recently raised $100 million in a Series C funding round, and has also been selected for Sainsbury’s Future Brands programme.
8. Oot Granola
Healthy cereal is a high growth category, and Dutch brand Oot has added a new level of convenience by selling granola through the post as a mail-order subscription service.
Oot customers can choose from a range of six products – including keto and paleo options – which are freshly baked each week. The packaging is letter-box friendly to ensure safe delivery.
Oot’s proposition has already come to the attention of Biscoff manufacturer Lotus Bakeries, which purchased a stake in the brand in May 2021 through its FF2032 corporate venture fund.
9. Pasta Evangelists
Another through-the-post success story that is set for further brand growth in 2022 is Pasta Evangelists.
Boosted by bumper subscription box orders during the pandemic – founder, Alessandro Savelli, said sales increased ten-fold – Pasta Evangelists was acquired by Barilla at the start of 2021.
Its restaurant-quality food credentials are complemented by investment in online content; Pasta Evangelists’ head pasta chef, Roberta D’Elia, shows consumers how to make classic dishes from scratch on the brand’s YouTube channel.
10. Pots & Co
One theme we’re seeing within fast-growing food brands is a focus on high-quality ingredients. Convenience no longer equals cheap, artificial flavoured products – as Pots & Co can attest.
The luxury pudding firm was started after professional chef, Julian Dyer, stood in a lemon posset factory and realised there wasn’t a single fresh lemon in sight. He decided to give the ready-made dessert market a shake-up by focusing on the use of fine ingredients, from Cornish sea salt to sustainably harvested Colombian cocoa
After taking the UK by storm, Pots & Co is targeting North America in 2022, having received a $20 million investment from General Mills’ venture capital firm, 301 Inc.
Re:Nourish has seen how big the bottled smoothie market has become and is setting out to do the same with soup. Its range of plant-based, gluten-free liquid lunches are designed to support consumers’ health and wellbeing; flavours include ‘strength soup’ with spicy lentils and roasted red pepper, and ‘immunity soup’ containing kale, turmeric and spinach.
But Re:Nourish isn’t just giving soup a glow-up for convenience-driven, health-conscious consumers. It’s also put serious thought into how its packaging works in alignment with its vegan product following.
The brand has developed the world’s first microwavable, fully-recyclable grab & go bottle to marry convenience and environmental awareness. And this holistic focus on innovation proved a major driver in the company’s recent successful Series A funding round, where Re:Nourish raised more than £2 million to finance its international growth plans.
12. The Skinny Food Co
Our 2022 food brands to watch list is filled with companies making waves in the healthy eating space, and among the front-runners is The Skinny Food Co.
After seeing their diabetic relatives having to miss out on everyday products, co-founders James Whiting and Wayne Starking developed a range of no-added-sugar ketchup and sauces. Since then, their portfolio has diversified to include syrups, cocktail mixes, jams, baking kits and cooking sprays.
One reason for the company’s rapid growth is online customers’ ability to ‘shop by goal’ on the Skinny Food Co website. For example, visitors can look solely at plant-based or gluten-free foods, or focus on foods that are suitable for weight loss and/or following the keto diet. It’s this combination of product innovation and user experience that is powering Skinny Food Co towards a predicted £35 million turnover this financial year.
13. The Snaffling Pig
We discussed the rising popularity of low carb eating in our recent blog post on labelling compliance for keto brands, and one of the major beneficiaries of this trend has been The Snaffling Pig.
Pork scratchings are a favoured grab & go snack for keto eaters, and The Snaffling Pig has turned a humble pub nibble into a gourmet treat. Its product range has expanded beyond crackling to include sauces, glazed meats and even alcoholic beverages. Not bad for a brand started on a £500 bet!
Although Torr is technically a technology company rather than a food brand, it deserves a place on this list for the potentially game-changing impact it could have on the snack industry in 2022.
The Israel-based company has developed a new methodology called iWeld, which uses mechanical pressure and ultrasonic energy to fuse real ingredients – replacing the sugar-binding process relied on by many major snack brands.
Torr’s innovative approach has already caught the eye of Mondelez International, which released new Dirt Kitchen pressed bars using Torr’s technique in September 2021.
15. Urban Legend
We love a doughnut, so Urban Legend feels like a fitting place to conclude our 2022 food brands to watch list.
Founded by the former CEO of Graze, Urban Legend is a range of healthier doughnuts. Its fat and sugar levels are classed as medium/low under Public Health England’s traffic light scheme, while they typically contain 30% fewer calories than competitor products.
Although Urban Legend doughnuts are only currently available through Urban Legend’s three stores in Brighton, Croydon and at Clapham Junction station, there’s massive potential for the brand to expand its retail sales network in 2022. And after receiving £3 million in funding, Urban Legend has the resources to start scaling.
Hooley Brown: helping food brands drive compliant international growth
Strong brand identity and continuous product innovation are essential to driving growth, and the companies we’ve featured in our list of 2022 food brands to watch stand out in these areas. But these two factors alone aren’t enough to ensure international success.
Clear product labelling and compliance are critical to meeting food safety regulations in every market and instilling confidence among new consumer audiences. And for many fast-growing brands, creating internationally compliant product recipes and localising product packaging for new markets can become a barrier to expansion.
Hooley Brown helps food brands to launch compliant, localised products everywhere in the world. Using our industry expertise to create clear, correctly labelled goods with validated product claims for reliable, consistent brand experiences.
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