As 2020 winds down, food and beverage industry observers are forecasting what trends will drive change in 2021. Last week McCormick & Co. published its annual Flavor Forecast. This week Whole Foods Market has released its predictions of the 10 trends that will matter in 2021.
“There have been radical shifts in consumer habits in 2020,” says Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, chief marketing officer at Whole Foods Market. “For example, shoppers have found new passions for cooking, they’ve purchased more items related to health and wellness, and more are eating breakfast at home every day compared to pre-COVID. Food trends are a sign of the times, and our 2021 trends are no exception.”
The retailer sees consumer interest in health and wellness, specifically products that support the immune system, accelerating next year. That will create additional opportunities for companies selling foods perceived as superfoods, probiotics, broths and sauerkrauts, according to the Whole Foods. Look for more manufacturers to incorporate functional ingredients like vitamin C, mushrooms and adaptogens into formulations.
Breakfast will get an upgrade in 2021 as many people continue to work from home and have the time to linger over their morning meal. Pancake mixes, sous vide egg bites and egg alternatives are three applications that may gain greater attention during the year.
Center store innovation is expected to trend as consumers seek new takes on pantry staples like pasta, sauces and spices. Products that may capture consumer attention include hearts of palm pasta, applewood-smoked salt and vegan soups.
Expect coffee to continue to move beyond the mug in 2021 as product developers add a jolt or just the flavor of coffee to applications like bars, granolas, smoothies and even alcoholic beverages. Whole Foods plans to introduce Whole Foods Market Coffee & Almond Protein Chewy Bites later this year and said consumers can expect to see coffee nib muesli from Marge Granola, Seattle, in stores in 2021.
Baby food options also are predicted to proliferate next year. Innovation in packaging, the inclusion of functional ingredients like omega-3-rich flaxseeds, and flavor innovation are all expected to contribute to category growth.
Upcycling will definitely be on the upswing in 2021, according to Whole Foods. Consumer interest in sustainability and reducing food waste will drive interest.
Cooking oil innovation will catch consumer interest next year as consumers consider options besides olive oil. Product sourced from walnut, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds may garner greater attention.
Kombucha with a kick may be the hard seltzer of 2021. The Whole Foods trend watchers say the application checks several boxes, including being gluten-free and having a functional angle with the inclusion of live probiotic cultures.
Will chickpea be the next cauliflower? Whole Foods thinks so and it predicts the ingredient will start showing up in applications like tofu, flour and cereal.
And the final trend that will impact 2021 will be meatless meat snacks. Look for meat snack alternatives made from fruits and vegetables to capture consumer attention and be flavored with ingredients like chili, salt, ginger and cacao.