2020 saw big changes, that is no doubt. This year, many of the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry trends for 2021 are the result of these changes that were needed to combat the global pandemic.
Health consciousness is a big consideration for food purchases, as well as the desire to have interesting and exciting food experiences while many of us are still stuck at home.
On the shopping list
The following items are expected to be some of the more popular purchases at the grocery stores for 2021:
Chickpeas. Across multiple trend lists, food experts are saying that chickpeas will make a significant comeback in 2021. Along with the usual hummus and salads, Whole Foods’ annual report projects that North America and the UK will favor chickpea protein, flour, cereals, pizza, pasta, etc.
Kelp. In recent years, some of the major health foods have revolved around greens such as kale and spinach. This year, kelp is expected to hit the market strong; consumers will be able to find popular dried seaweed snacks, kelp cubes to be put in smoothies, fresh kelp salads, etc. Kelp is highly praised for its nutrient-rich health benefits and its very sustainable growing practices.
Hard seltzers. Already popular in the drink category, refreshing beverages spiked with alcohol will become a definite staple in the new year. Following the success of brands like White Claw in the US, more and more brands have begun producing their own versions of hard seltzer – Coca Cola being one of them through their Topo Chico brand. There’s also plans for Kombucha to be spiked, which consumers have already started to get excited about.
Coffee everywhere. While coffee is always a fan favorite, this year it is expected to be seen in many products other than the cup. This includes coffee flavored popsicles, chocolate covered coffee beans, coffee yogurt, and coffee cocktails.
New dining experiences
Food experts have also predicted some trending dining practices for the new year:
Charcuterie boards are the stylish new thing to try. More menus at restaurants have begun adding them as attractive (albeit pricey) appetizers and brunch items. Traditionally, charcuterie boards consist of varying meats, cheeses, crackers, etc., but this year these boards are expected to add on breakfast and dessert elements. For people in the home, there has also been an influx of recipe lists with headlines such as “20+ Charcuterie Board Ideas” for people to get creative and make them on their own.
Specialty dining. As consumers are anxious to take a break from eating and cooking at home, many restaurants are opting for converted layouts and eating options to satisfy the consumer need. This means that for the winter, people are hurriedly booking igloos to the point of them being sold out, and others are picking unique dining experiences like expensive tasting menus for a change.
At home meal kits. As 2020 required that the industry move quickly into takeaway options, this practice will likely stay into 2021. Aside from receiving the usual prepared meal from a favorite restaurant, at-home meal kits will be the thing to do. Consumers will be able to choose which meals they want from a restaurant, and the ingredients will be sent to the consumers with instructions to prepare at home on their own.
Fermentation. The fermentation market is ready to explode in 2021. This includes the purchasing of fermented/pickled products such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, etc, and the practice of pickling one’s own vegetables in the home. According to Waitrose’s analysis, the percentage of people in the UK searching for the keyword “pickling” has gone up by 222 percent.
Likewise, fermentation tech is becoming increasingly popular. SpecPage customer Perfect Day is one such company that is excelling in the vegan market by creating plant-based ice cream and dairy with a fermentation process that produces milk proteins through fermented microflora.
Sustainable/ethical sourcing. While they have already been on the rise, sustainable practices will remain an important factor for the food industry. Consumers are making conscious decisions to purchase brands who are transparent about their product sourcing and packaging.
Innovation. As a response to the ever changing restrictions present with Covid-19, innovation has been and will be the driving force of 2021. A trend report created by Aptean of Northern Europe, indicated that tapping into new product markets and production processes would lead the way for innovation. The F&B industry has certainly innovated in many ways this past year, and will continue to do so with some examples we have already seen with specialty dining, at-home meal kits, etc.
The industry as we know it is in a tumultuous period of change, but many F&B producers are proving that they are ready for it. The upcoming trends of the year will certainly be exciting to grow with and watch.