Forecasting the Food Trends for 2021
It is that time of year again when the food trend predictions are starting to pop up for next year. For over a decade, my business has been identifying and sharing food trends. This year – 2020, the start of a new decade, has been anything but predictable, as we continue to navigate a global pandemic. Now heading into a new year (and we all say goodbye to the last two months of 2020!), let’s explore what the trend reports are predicting and my picks for forecasting the food trends for 2021.
The Word on the Street
Based on the forecasting that has been rolling in for 2021, I am highlighting three reports of interest, to my business and clients, published in the past few weeks: McCormick’s Flavor Forecast; Whole Foods Market’s Top Food Trends; and Innova Market Insights Top 10 Food and Beverage Trends to Accelerate Innovation in 2021.
McCormick’s Flavor Forecast 2021
This report focuses on four themes: 1) sweet and seasonal satisfaction; 2) spicy (r)evolution; 3) global finds; and 4) empowered eating and drinking. My picks include 1, 3 and 4.
An example of sweet and seasonal satisfaction is “Ancho Chile Pepper and Hibiscus – Vitality in Bloom: Tart, floral notes of exotic hibiscus, alongside the lingering heat of ancho chile pepper, create a lively Latin combo.”
- I agree this trend will continue into 2021. I wrote about this topic for two of my Bakers Journal Final Proof Columns including Cake Trends in January 2019 and Flowers Meet Flours in June 2020.
More than ever with people spending so much time at home due to travel restrictions because of the global health crisis, consumers are craving travel-like experiences including opportunities with their food and recipes. They are craving global dishes in their traditional form, while others prefer more approachable fusions.
- I agree with this trend and I wrote about blending both nostalgic and international flavours in my Bakers Journal Final Proof Column May 2020 – Fruit Flavours in Baking.
Health and wellness have always been top-of-mind in past forecasts including mine. McCormick’s team describe empowered eating and drinking as: Lifestyle and food are more intertwined than ever before, but the flavor does not need to be compromised to meet nutritional needs.
- I have always agreed and supported this trend over the course of my business. I’ve written about it and been interviewed numerous times including this article published Canadian Grocer in September 2020.
Whole Foods Market’s Top Ten Food Trends for 2021
This report ranks their top trends from one to ten: 1) Well-Being Is Served; 2) Epic Breakfast Every Day; 3) Basics on Fire; 4) Coffee Beyond the Mug; 5) Baby Food, All Grown Up; 6) Upcycled Foods; 7) Oil Change; 8) Boozed-Up Booch; 9) The Mighty Chickpea; and 10) Fruit and Veggie Jerky. I don’t disagree with any of the ten, however, my top picks include 1, 4, and 7.
Well-Being is Served
The lines are blurring between the supplement and grocery aisles, and that trend will accelerate in 2021. That means heightened interest superfoods, probiotics, broths, and sauerkrauts. Suppliers are incorporating functional ingredients like vitamin C, mushrooms and adaptogens to foster a calm headspace and support the immune system. For obvious reasons, people want this pronto.
- I agree this trend will continue to be top of mind in 2021, as we navigate the global health crisis. I was interviewed in June 2020 by David Orgel about it for his article in Drug Store News.
Coffee Beyond the Mug
The love affair between humans and coffee burns way beyond a brewed pot of joe. That’s right, java is giving a jolt to all kinds of food. You can now get your coffee fix in the form of coffee-flavored bars and granolas, smoothie boosters and booze, even coffee yogurt for those looking to crank up that breakfast parfait.
- I agree with this trend for 2020. Check out my February 2020 blog on Cold Brew Coffee on Trend.
At-home chefs are branching out with oils that each add their own unique flavor and properties. Walnut and pumpkin seed oils lend a delicious nutty flavor, while sunflower seed oil is hitting the shelves in a bunch of new products and is versatile enough to use at high temps or in salad dressing.
- You know I love seeds in all forms, and they will continue to trend! Check out my book The Need for Seeds available via Amazon.
Innova Market Insights Top 10 Food and Beverage Trends to Accelerate Innovation in 2021
This annual top ten report provides the trends in response to the ever-evolving and consumer-centric food and beverage industry. The new trends for 2021 are: 1) Transparency Triumphs; 2) Plant-Forward; 3) Tailored to Fit; 4) New Omnichannel Eating; 5) In Tune with Immune; 6) Nutrition Hacking; 7) Mood: The Next Occasion; 8) Product Mashups: When Trends Collide; 9) Modern Nostalgia and 10) Age of the Influencer. I might disagree with 10 – Age of the Influencer depending on the topic and credibility during a global health crisis, however, my top picks include 1, 2, and 5.
The Innova Consumer Survey 2020 reveals that six in ten global consumers are interested in learning more about where foods come from. Transparency dominates consumer demand in 2021. Aspects include human/animal welfare, supply chain transparency, plant-powered nutrition, and sustainable sourcing.
- I agree this trend continuing into 2021, especially during the global health crisis. Check out my blog Sustainability is Far Beyond Selfies with Farmers.
As plant-based trends reach global phenomenon status, the “plant-based” definition is ever-evolving. Its rising mainstream appeal will drive expansion to different regions and categories in 2021, including accelerated demand for new formats, plant proteins and more sophisticated alternatives. As consumers are powering up on plant protein, opportunities and challenges relating to regional consumer preferences and sustainability expectations are attracting attention.
- Seeds, pulses, nuts, and other plants continue to make their way onto the centre of consumers’ plates. Check out my blog Plant-based Eating on the Rise.
In Tune with Immune
Ongoing anxiety stemming from COVID-19 will encourage consumers to prioritize their immune health into 2021. According to the Innova Consumer Survey 2020, six out of ten global consumers are increasingly looking for food and beverage products that support their immune health, with one in three saying that concerns about immune health increased in 2020 over 2019.
- More than ever, due to the global health crisis, this trend will be top of mind for consumers. From a health professional and food industry expert point of view – check out my blog Immune Health 101.
Although none of us have a crystal ball, having been in the industry for over two decades and credentialed as a health professional, I am confident my trend picks from these reports will be among the top ten for 2021.