A change in how people socialise due to the pandemic, global closures of restaurants and a revised focus on health and home cooking is the driving force behind the emerging food trends for 2021.
2020 food trends included a lot of baking (thanks, pandemic lockdowns), kimchi, and an exciting rejig on fine dining for takeout and delivery.
Curious about what kinds of food trends are going to be popular in 2021? We took a look at industry reports and spoke with a few professionals from within the food, drink, and restaurant industry to see what’s going to change and what you can expect from food trends in 2021.
- Hard Kombucha
- CBD foods
- Nut cooking oils
- Fruit & vegetable jerky
- New meat alternatives
- Boxed wine
From hard kombucha, upcycled foods, leveled-up breakfasts and jerky made from produce to CBD goodies, here’s what you can expect to chow down on in 2021.
Food Trends to Follow in 2021
1. Vitamins & Supplements
Whole Foods predicts that you will see a lot more ‘well-being’ eats on the shelves. That means 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.
2. Hard ‘Boozy’ Kombucha
The mega-popular drink is going to get even bigger. The benefits of alcoholic kombucha: it’s gluten-free, it’s super bubbly and can be filled with live probiotic cultures. Even last year Yelp did a study that also noted that “hard,” boozy kombucha might be on the rise as well. Reviews on Yelp mentioning “hard kombucha” were up 377% in 2019.
Consumers are also expected to be more interested in low/no alcohol drinks and health drinks. Restaurants can take advantage of this by offering beverages such as low-sugar soft drinks, organic kombucha or juices and low-alcohol options.
3. New Meat Alternatives
A recent report claimed that by 2040, 60% of the meat consumed will either be plant-based or lab-grown. This also ties into new consumer behaviour post-Covid-19, which shows a move away from meat towards seemingly ‘healthier’ options. 74% of European consumers and 69% of North American consumers said they will make a greater attempt to eat healthier as a result of the pandemic.
We predict that this food trend will result in a new range of meat alternatives and alt-protein sources.
4. Upcycled Foods
Whole Foods says that they are seeing a huge rise in packaged products that use neglected and underused parts of an ingredient as a path to reducing food waste. Upcycled foods, made from ingredients that would have otherwise been food waste, help to maximise the energy used to produce, transport and prepare that ingredient.
CBD’s been on the rise for years, and in 2021 it’s slated to finally fully sneak its way into the food and drink industry. From CBD Coffee to bakery products, snacks, soups, and even alcoholic drinks, experts seem to think that CBD-infused everything is going to be hot in 2021. That’s great news for those looking to lower their stress and anxiety levels.
6. Coffee Beyond the Cup
Expect coffee flavouring to pop up everywhere in 2021! You can now get your coffee fix in the form of coffee-flavored bars and granolas, smoothie boosters and booze, even coffee yogurt. You can get your java fix in so, so many new forms. Exciting!
7. Elevated Baby Food
Baby food gets a bad rep, but 2021 will see lots of new, healthy and delicious baby food products. Prepare for portable, on-the-go squeeze pouches full of rhubarb, rosemary, purple carrots and omega-3-rich flaxseeds.
8. New Types of Oil
Olive oil? It’s always going to be a classic for good reason, but it will have some competition. Walnut and pumpkin seed oils give a delicious nutty flavour, 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.
9. Celebrity Alcohol Brands
Ryan Reynolds has his gin, George Clooney has tequila and Kylie Minogue recently launched her second rosé wine. Chloe, Poppy and Cara Delevingne have a high-end prosecco, Idris Elba a champagne and Brad Pitt even has an entire rosé champagne house. 2021 will see even more celebs release alcohol brands under their name.
10. Chickpeas, Chickpeas, and More Chickpeas…
You’ll be eating the tasty chickpea in a lot more forms than just hummus. Rich in fiber and plant-based protein, chickpeas are the new cauliflower — popping up in products like chickpea tofu, chickpea flour and even chickpea cereal. 2021 will be the year of the chickpea, no doubt.
11. Fruit and Vegetable Jerky
Whole Foods says that all kinds of produce from mushrooms to jackfruit are being served jerky-style, providing a new, shelf-stable way to enjoy fruits and veggies. The produce is dried at the peak freshness to preserve nutrients and yumminess. Suppliers are also spicing things up with finishes of chili, salt, ginger and cacao drizzle.
12. Innovative Meal Kits & Food Delivery
Meal kits and food delivery will continue to be popular. Consumers will stick to the trend of eating at home, enjoying a diverse range of take out options and cook-at-home restaurant meal kits.
Virtual or ‘ghost kitchens’ that only offer delivery will become more popular and act as an entry point for restaurateurs to test demand for their food before committing to a brick and mortar premises.
There’s also been a positive response to restaurants adding on extra services, such as meal kits for customers to cook at home, selling fresh produce in-store and even selling their own bottled sauces, merchandise and pre-made cocktails.
13. Classic Comfort Foods
When we’re feeling down, comfort food never fails to hit the spot. Home treats like mom used to make will continue to be a key trend. The most successful types of food and menu promotions of 2020 are family-style meals (up 68% since April), ready-to-heat meals (up 52%) and comfort foods (up 47%).
We bet that cosy dishes such as hearty pies, mac and cheese, stews and cobblers will make a huge impact on menus.
14. Spice it Up!
Hot & Spicy chicken burger has been the fastest growing trend in 2020 with a 299% increase since 2019. With more than 200 types of spices across the globe, we predict that spicy food and chilli sauces will be a big hit in 2021.
15. Sophisticated, Less Sweet Desserts
Gone is the trend of crazy candycane sweets, ultra-sweet desserts, freakshakes and too much sugar. One of the key food trends for 2021 will be the rise of the ‘sophisticated’ dessert, with a mix of bitter elements. Think: dark bitter chocolate, salty flavours, subtle milk desserts, green tea ice cream and ginger flavours.