Food Trends to Expect as We Head into 2021
It may seem crazy to start anticipating 2021 COVID food trends, but there’s already plenty of information available on what food life may look like.
As we know, this year has led to the rise of comfort food. The stress of the world around us partnered with stay-at-home orders, food distribution issues, and hoarding led to many consumers wanting to curl up with their favorite food. This nostalgic touch of normal has helped us stay grounded in tough times.
But those same comforts and limitations have led to unwanted side effects on health. Depression, weight gain, and nutrient deficiencies have all been on the rise as we’ve lost time in the sun and access to healthy hobbies. Therefore, it’s no surprise that consumers are looking towards health and wellness in 2021.
2021 COVID Food Trends
Snacking is up across the board. As people work from home and find more flexibility in their daily schedule, they’re also finding more time to snack. 26% of U.S. consumers snack multiple times a day, and another third snack at least once daily; 38% say they replace meals with snacks (usually lunch) at least occasionally.
As consumers work to get back to their “pre-COVID weight,” a strong draw will be to find healthier snacks. Outside of the retail setting, this means bite-size restaurant eats made with vegetables, lean meats, or whole/ancient grains. Even if weight loss is a focus, it can’t take the place of exciting flavor (like bold sauces!).
Plant-based foods are no fad. They are here to stay and they can provide an excellent health-focused option. Home preparation of plant-based proteins like dry beans and lentils, tofu, and homemade veggie burgers are helping people discover that good nutrition can be delicious. This can translate directly to restaurants, where that exposure will lead to plant-based menu choices.
An important fact to keep in mind on this note, however, is that more than ever consumers are reading nutrition labels. Those labels need to reflect recognizable ingredients. Consumers are actively steering away from ingredient labels that sound like science experiments.
Restaurants can capitalize on this with flavor-forward plant-based options tying into nostalgic favorites. Plant-based buffalo chicken or meatless marinara are excellent options. Both provide immense flavor boosts without blowing out the caloric limit.
Coronavirus has done a great job of opening consumers’ eyes to the power of foods and their functions. 2021 will undoubtedly showcase foods that offer a functional benefit, like immune and energy boosts.
This is a great opportunity to enhance dishes by packing them with protein, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc, among others. And with family mealtime becoming a norm once again, creating dishes that benefit the whole family will be an added bonus.
Opportunity is Knocking…
Will you answer? Now is the time to start planning your menus and products for 2021. Using these characteristics aligned with bold, craveable flavors, you can ensure your place with the diner of next year.