Heading into 2021, some of the trends that have taken hold in the food industry are expected to stick around, even after life returns to relative normalcy.

One of the top names in the baking world, La Brea Bakery has noticed plenty of changes in terms of what consumers are looking for from their food. Chris Prociv, vice president of marketing and innovation at La Brea Bakery, offered her insights into what 2021 will look like for baking and foodservice.

Takeout will remain in high demand

“As we head into the new year, COVID-19 will continue to be a major concern across the country, so dining out will likely remain limited,” Prociv said. “We saw takeout start to gain popularity last summer, with consumers wanting to support local restaurants, so I think we’ll see this trend continue into 2021.”

La Brea Bakery has shifted its focus to highlight its Take & Bake bread, which can be easily stored in the freezer for later or enjoyed right away. The company has made plans to launch new varieties of the Take & Bake bread in early 2021 to accommodate the demand for accessible, convenient, fresh food.

Transparency will be front and center

“In recent years, consumers have started paying close attention to the ingredients in their food, and as we move into 2021, I think we’ll see clean, simple ingredients trend even more,” Prociv said. “I also think consumers want to see more transparency at the corporate level — they want to hear more from the companies making their food — how they are making it, what kinds of ingredients they are using, and what sets their food apart from the competition.”

Prociv believes that 2021 will be the year consumers view food as a holistic approach to health. Consumers were baking more bread at home during the pandemic, so they’ve become familiar with how the baking process works and what kind of ingredients should be used to make food “cleaner.”

Immune health will be top-of-mind

“Unsurprisingly, immune health was top-of-mind for nearly everyone in 2020,” Prociv said. “As we move into the new year, I think we’ll see consumers focus on ways to maintain a healthy immune system, a lot of which can be found in foods like sourdough bread, which has been linked to gut health.”

La Brea Bakery looks to educate consumers about the benefits bread like sourdough can have on gut health and maintaining a healthy immune system.

Flatbread pizza

One of the foodservice leaders, Panera Bread is signaling growth ahead for the pizza sector with the expansion of its successful new flatbread pizza lineup.

Panera Bread recently added two new varieties to its lineup of flatbread pizzas: pepperoni and four cheese. The new offerings join three varieties that were introduced in October 2020: cheese, Margherita and chipotle chicken.

The new pepperoni flatbread pizza features Panera's signature crisp crust topped with mozzarella, pepperoni and tomato bell pepper sauce. The four cheese flatbread is topped with a creamy white garlic sauce and the combination of Parmesan, mozzarella, fontina and feta cheeses.

“Our delicious flatbread pizza crust is the perfect canvas for our amazing ingredients, and we couldn't resist adding even more flavors for our guests to choose from,” said Claes Petersson, chief food and innovation officer at Panera. “Each new menu item begins with our commitment to serve more of the foods that our customers crave, like delicious, crispy pepperoni pizza and cheesy, toasty four cheese. We can't wait for guests to try these new chef's creations for themselves.”

Eduardo Luz, chief brand and concept officer at Panera, said the restaurant chain has served more than 5 million flatbread pizzas since they launched late last fall.

Barley-based ingredients

EverGrain, a sustainable ingredient company, is introducing protein and fiber barley-based ingredients for food, including bread. EverGrain utilizes saved grain from brewing to transform the circularly sourced barley into nutrient-rich ingredients.

The barley-based protein and fiber ingredients have the following benefits in these application categories:

  • Bread: Increases specific volume and moistens crumb compared to wholemeal flour; promotes superior machinability and consistency of dough; lowers net carbohydrates and predicted GI
  • Pizza Crust: Improves on the whole-wheat pizza experience with strengthened mouthfeel; easy to integrate into formulations; delivers a signature, appetizing golden-brown crust
  • Pasta & Noodles: Promotes “al dente” texture with great tensile strength and firmness performance; has ideal extrusion with no sticking together while drying or cooking; offers a more appetizing flavor than legume-based varieties

“Our unique barley ingredients will transform plant-based products, delivering better tasting and more nutritious options to consumers who seek a healthier and more sustainable future,” said Greg Belt, founder and chief executive officer of EverGrain. “EverGrain’s innovative and circular approach, which we’ve honed over the past five years, offers a scalable, local and reliable solution for the global food industry to help address the world’s food security and sustainability challenges.”

Backed by Anheuser-Busch InBev, EverGrain will support the growing demand from its commercial customers by providing a scalable, consistent, and stable supply of its ingredients.

“At Puratos, our ambition is to accelerate the transformation of our industry. EverGrain’s barley offers a unique plant-based protein and fiber option that doesn’t require additional land, saves water, and lowers a product’s overall carbon footprint. At Puratos we are working with EverGrain to develop the ingredient technology that will allow bakeries to make great tasting, nutritious and sustainable breads featuring barley ingredients in line with consumer preferred texture and freshness expectations,” said Frederik Lievens, Group Products Director, Puratos.

With this launch, EverGrain is commercializing its first generation of nutrient-rich, ancient-grain products to market, EverPro and EverVita. Both product lines are versatile and can be used across a wide range of food products. EverPro, a fully soluble protein isolate, is currently being formulated in multiple plant-based protein products, including beverages, protein bars and snacks. EverVita, barley fibers and proteins with minimal starch, are being used as a single solution to boost the nutrition and gut health benefits of baked foods, pasta and snacks without impacting taste and texture.

The company has multiple product launches with commercial partners planned that will reach shelves in both the United States and Europe in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021.