5 trends fueling food and beverage innovation in 2021

Soon after an unpredictable and turbulent 2020, quite a few are hoping 2021 will deliver much more stability. But the pandemic is envisioned to continue to keep sway and impact some of the major food and beverage tendencies in the coming months.

One particular key theme that will keep on in the new calendar year demonstrates what lots of wish 2020 experienced a lot more of: health. Businesses will be wanting to start foods and drinks with immunity-boosting elements. The plant-centered and different place will also see continued growth, but choose distinctive shapes with new elements, from algae to mushrooms.

Technology will also arise as a big pattern as the calendar turns more than. Due to the fact food stuff and employee basic safety was in the highlight this previous 12 months, new developments will promise to give buyers self confidence in their foodstuff. Tech, like CRISPR, will also enable produce innovations in foods that fulfill the expanding demands of consumers as very hot tendencies, like world-wide flavors, dominate the room. 

Just after conversations with market gurus and analysts, here is a breakdown of the five biggest traits that Meals Dive predicts will affect the food items and beverage business in 2021.

Courtesy of Chobani


1. More firms bounce on overall health and immunity bandwagon

Shoppers invested most of previous 12 months targeted on trying to stay nutritious — and that need seeped into their food items choices. In accordance to investigate from ADM, the pandemic produced extra men and women interested in foodstuff that advantage their immunity, and authorities are predicting that will go on in 2021. 

“A lot of firms will be leaping on this immunity bandwagon,” claimed Kara Nielsen, director of Foods & Consume at WGSN, a craze forecasting corporation beneath Ascential.

In a report, WGSN determined immunity-supporting substances as a crucial concept for 2021. Products builders are studying from purchaser desire in the previous 12 months. From elderberries and probiotics to turmeric and moringa, WGSN explained the ingredients with immunity promises are amongst these poised for additional advancement. 

Nielsen mentioned that organizations are also seeking to increase gains and promises to their merchandise that prioritize health, like yogurt providers launching into probiotics, and highlighting other qualities this sort of as sugar reduction.

Immunity-boosting elements have observed a revenue bump already, and extra companies are increasing their portfolios with those capabilities. Chobani a short while ago announced a line of yogurt that spotlights probiotics, and Uncle Matt’s introduced an Final Immune Orange Juice Beverage.

“Now as soon as everyone has the vaccine, will people pull back again from some of this? I feel that remains to be witnessed, but I consider persons will keep involved in the course of following 12 months,” Nielsen reported.

According to the Innova Purchaser Study 2020, 6 out of 10 world consumers are ever more on the lookout for products that assistance their immune well being, with just one in three indicating that their problems amplified in 2020. Innova determined immunity as a major trend for the upcoming year. 

Lu Ann Williams, director of insights and innovation at Innova Market Insights, stated immunity is an chance that can be broader than just getting Vitamin C or zinc. Williams pointed to botanicals as an example of an component that delivers an “active” health reward, as properly as shade and taste that tick the “natural” box.

“Customers are interested in foodstuff that are in a natural way superior in nutrition to advertise their immunity,” Williams said. “I consider there is a massive chance to blend ‘hero’ ingredients that convey nutritional gains whose gains are straightforward to communicate.”

Retrieved from IBM España via Flickr.


2. Tech-enabled transparency is clearly crucial

Early in the pandemic, headlines throughout the state centered on outbreaks at meals and meat producing vegetation. As a end result, a lot more people have seemed critically at the place their food stuff will come from and who makes it. Experts say that concept will carry on in the next year, with know-how doing the job to make foodstuff and employees additional harmless. 

Innova Current market Insights said that transparency during the provide chain will dominate as the leading craze of the yr, with 6 in 10 people fascinated in recognizing much more about their foods’ origin. The agency mentioned that can be obtained with new packaging technologies this sort of as invisible barcodes.

Williams explained trends produce around decades, and given that Innova’s major pattern previous 12 months was storytelling, “the further layer this calendar year is transparency.” 

“Transparency will be very important in encouraging individuals realize and acknowledge the solutions,” she mentioned. 

Innovations are previously debuting to highlight this pattern, like digital expiration day labels that offer serious-time checking of meals quality.

In addition to good packaging, foods producers are also significantly making use of blockchain to track merchandise from farm to desk, which includes espresso and turkeys. Blockchain can assist if there is a remember and can deliver better traceability. 

Nielsen at WGSN claimed customers are wanting for additional guarantees of protection, and meals suppliers need to connect a lot more about their initiatives. But there is motion in the area with large companies like Nestlé starting off to undertake much more blockchain. 

“It’s nonetheless type of higher level — I never think so considerably down on a client amount but I assume it will get down there above the program of the calendar year so that individuals recognize a minimal little bit better,” Nielsen claimed. 

Meat processors have also previously begun to expedite their plans to include extra automation and robotics to elevate food safety as the pandemic ravages their workforce. For case in point, inside of the Tyson Producing Automation Center, engineers are operating to acquire ground breaking technology like a robotic digital camera that could detect flaws on solutions.

Keith Belk, head of Colorado Point out University’s animal sciences division, mentioned there’s been a “huge increase” in the charge of enhancement of those systems, the two in the U.S. and abroad.

Other technological innovations for food stuff safety have arisen all through the pandemic. For instance, firms started off to glance at wastewater to catch coronavirus spikes. Belk said they uncovered they could use that exact same know-how to search at foodborne pathogens such as salmonella or E. coli. 

“If you are seeking for a little something very good out of the pandemic, which you can find not incredibly much, which is a very good thing that arrived out of it,” Belk mentioned. 


3. Following-era plant-based mostly selections expand

Plant-based foods has been a main trend in the very last a number of years. And whilst product sales figures for 2020 have not however been crunched, they are sure to be record-environment. In a examine final month, Packaged Information believed plant-based dairy and egg sales would sign up at about $4.3 billion, and would continue on to grow at an annual level of 6%. And by way of Oct. 3, according to Nielsen, meat alternate income ended up up 129% compared to the initially 9 months of 2019.

As the segment carries on to strike its stride, equally new and previous gamers are bound to launch goods and discover accomplishment in 2021. But gurus say they possible is not going to reuse the same aged elements in distinctive ways. Wherever the plant-dependent area is now dominated by pea, soy and wheat protein, count on to see additional products featuring substances built from diverse crops in 2021.

Phil Kafarakis, president emeritus of the Specialty Food items Association and global foodstuff market advisor, mentioned this motion started in plant-primarily based dairy. The soy milks and almond milks that dominated the plant-based mostly dairy circumstance in a long time past are now joined by dairy products sourced from a host of other vegetation, which includes oat, quinoa, hemp and macadamia nut. In other sections of the store, cauliflower has develop into a prevalent substitute for many grains, which include wheat and rice. And pulses ranging from chickpeas to fava beans are starting off to seem as treats and components of plant-primarily based butters and creamers.

“It’s been accelerating,” Kafarakis reported. “…During this period of COVID, at the time they acquired previous all the hoarding, people today were into knowledge that they can experiment with manufacturers that historically they might not have tried prior to. So some of these products are out there and they are making a great deal of pleasure, so I think you might be gonna see that come to be a lot more mainstream.”

Sabina Vyas, senior director of strategic initiatives and communications at the Plant Primarily based Meals Affiliation, sees 3 principal categories of new plant-dependent and different elements coming into the fore in 2021: algae, fungi and mushrooms, and legumes and pulses. These elements have a number of benefits: They are sustainable, have very important vitamins, and have great flavor and textures. They also are somewhat low-cost and simple to source.

Consumers “want these foods to flavor fantastic,” Vyas stated. “They want to see that these foodstuff are also sustainable and improved for them. … So manufacturers are … performing accordingly. I feel they’re unleashing the alternatives of what is actually out there in crops and the fungi kingdom.”

Michael Robbins, a spokesperson for the Plant Centered Foods Association, included that option plant-primarily based components are getting to be extra preferred because retailers have confined amounts of shelf room. New products and solutions need to supply something one of a kind to get on the shelf, and new foundation substances can enable differentiate merchandise. 

4. Demand from customers for flavors with world enchantment and health and fitness cred intensifies

Though need for world flavors has been on the upswing in recent decades, the speed is predicted to intensify in 2021 as the results of the pandemic linger and customer desire in new and novel tastes proceeds to mature.

“Going into 2021, there looks to be heightened fascination compared to the start off of 2020 as consumers haven’t traveled as a great deal as typical or dined out as significantly as regular — so they are wanting for foods at dwelling to make some of the novelty and fascination they’d typically get from other sources,” claimed Neil Saunders, taking care of director of GlobalData’s retail division.

Analysts who comply with the foodstuff area mentioned a rising fascination in wellness — fueled by the pandemic has elevated flavors that people perspective as healthy. This could bode well for substances these as regular berries and fruits, butterfly-pea flower and moringa, Saunders reported.   


At the exact same time, civil unrest throughout the country has concentrated focus on cultures and ethnic groups whose offerings may well not have been as explored in advance of. Buyers not only want to consider anything new but also support products and solutions that are authentic and arrive with a story.

International flavors most most likely to appeal to extra customer attention in 2021 include things like matcha and moringa in Asia and earthy choices like elderberry, cinnamon and rhubarb. These substances could finally turn into more well known in U.S. food items. In The united states, spicy choices like very hot sauces and peppers, as very well as African fare, are envisioned to be more distinguished. 

Companies that offer you completely ready-to-try to eat meals, sauces, soups and meal kits with these flavors are poised to realize success, stated Elly Truesdell, a lover at Almanac Insights who previously oversaw local manufacturers and item innovations for Complete Meals Market place.  

“As insatiable as Americans are for international flavors, there is also still a genuine insecurity all-around obtaining it proper and cooking for ourselves,” she reported.

5. CRISPR and gene editing shift from crops to shoppers

Handful of systems have transformed advancement of food items manufacturing all through the previous few a long time as a great deal as genetic modification. Now, attempts to improve the style, texture and production of fruits and greens are remaining spurred on by CRISPR and other gene-enhancing methods that assure to do all these issues a lot quicker and for a fraction of the price tag.

People will see food stuff with a good deal of unique characteristics, such as fresher and tastier, “although they will not always know they are gene edited,” explained Jennifer Kuzma, a professor at North Carolina Point out College and co-director of its Genetic Engineering and Society Middle. “I do imagine now we’re likely to see gene enhancing and CRISPR-dependent crops enter the market in 2021.”


Early genetic engineering targeted predominantly on crops these as soybeans and corn grown by farmers to increase yields and make them resistant to pests or capable to face up to chemical therapies. But much more operate nowadays is staying carried out on purchaser-centric food items like mushrooms, apples, potatoes and lettuce that can be tweaked to contain attributes critical to buyers.

Pairwise, for instance, is tapping into CRISPR gene-editing technological innovation to get rid of the bitterness from a nutrient-dense green, the seeds from the outdoors of a blackberry and the pit in a cherry. 

“Sure there is risk there, but what we’re saying is that we think the technological innovation is very good adequate and it can produce matters that are superior enough for persons,” mentioned Ryan Rapp, who focuses on fruit as the head of product or service discovery at Pairwise. “As extended as we adhere to our values and transparency and being open with them, I think consumers are likely to really like this.”

Still, some people today are anxious that organizations utilizing CRISPR and other technologies are not currently being clear plenty of, and repeating the same problems as early pioneers of genetic engineered crops. They also get worried USDA’s regulatory method isn’t strong sufficient.

Gregory Jaffe, director of the biotechnology job at the Center for Science in the General public Desire, mentioned persons want to know very first if the know-how utilized in their food items is harmless and then how it rewards them. “Transparency is going to be crucial,” he said. “Consumers want to know extra and far more about the food and in which their food stuff arrives from, and so it will be critical to acceptance.”

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