2021 Eating Trend: Health
Accelerated by the pandemic, four megatrends drove eating habits in 2020: community, comfort, convenience and health.
This new series predicts the ways these will continue to shape food culture and flavours in 2021. The taste of things to come begins here, with health.
Food as medicine
With an estimated 75% of consumers globally planning to eat and drink healthier as a result of the pandemic, demand remains high for functional foods and active ingredients that improve immunity, energy and stress levels.
Tapping the surging interest in natural remedies, forward-thinking brands are modernising folk medicine. Naledo’s “wildcrafted” turmeric paste was recently named Product of the Year by Food Matters Live. Dona uses citrus fruits, honey, ginger and turmeric as key ingredients in its craft beverages. Buzzy London-based food start up Erbology cites Ayurvedic, Chinese, Mayan and Aztec cultures as the inspiration behind their personalised foodservice.
The work of Erbology and brands such as REBBL are popularizing adaptogens, natural active ingredients that are reported to support the body’s capacity for stress. UK-based Fungtn also recently launched beers brewed from adaptogenic, medicinal mushrooms, catering to the growing number of Nolo (no-or-low alcohol) drinkers.
Other adaptogenic superherbs and superfungi to watch out for in 2021: holy basil, ashwagandha, rhodiola and reishi mushrooms.
Demand is high for garden-inspired flavours that provide a sense of improved health. Sweet flavours such as apple, carrot, elderberries and manuka honey are expected to sell well in 2021, as will bread laced with rosemary and other classic herbs.
Infused and fermented products are also growing in popularity, often with a garden-inspired twist. Dona has released a range of fruity tisanes (herbal teas), via sister label Ouli. Equinox’s new range of kombucha is being introduced to UK supermarkets, with earthy flavours: Garden, Hedge, Meadow and Orchard.
2020 saw an increasing number of people gardening and foraging. This led to a sudden flowering of kitchen gardens, allotment culture and gardener-influencers. FoodNavigator predicts that this will lead to peak at-home pickling, jam and pesto making in 2021.
The pandemic being traced back to animal meat contamination is spurring interest and investment in “clean meat” and cultured alternatives.
Nestlé disclosed that plant-based products made using pea protein were a “key focus” for its future product development. As it cut the ribbon on the world’s largest pea protein facility, Canadian company Roquette said: “Plant-based is no longer a trend; it’s a key market driver.”
Insect protein is also taking off. Brands such as Protein Rebel and Small Giants are touting the health benefits of cricket flour and, like virtually every other health brand covered in this article, protecting the environment is also a core part of their ethos.
Imitation meat went from strength to strength in 2020, capped off by mainstream “fauxtein” releases from McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. This trend will continue to mature in 2021. M&S Food recently launched an “Innovation Hub” to build upon its already-sizable share of the plant-based meat market.
There will also be strides in the lab-grown “cultured meat” sector. Shiok Meats, Hooked and their competitors are all bidding to bring cultivated seafood products to market in 2021. 3D bioprinting firm Meat-Tech 3D’s acquisition of Peace of Meat signals a next chapter for the industry.