In a year where life as we knew it was turned upside down and people worldwide came to terms with embracing a “new normal,” our eating and drinking habits changed accordingly. Sourdough bread, stress baking, and comfort foods—like processed snacks and meats—dominated in 2020.
With health at the forefront of conversations this year, foods that promise to enhance immunity and boost health are seeing promising sales already in 2021. Innovative and diverse foods are seeing continued growth but taking shape in new ways. Let’s dive into the 2021 food landscape.
1. Breakfast at home is cool again
The most important meal of the day had a huge resurgence during the pandemic. Americans spent more time at home during 2020, and as a result, weekday breakfasts that were usually rushed or forgotten slowed down and became a moment to savor. On-the-go granola bars and coffee turned into more substantial breakfasts like inventive pancake mixes, keto-friendly egg bites, and breakfast sandwiches.
Milk and cereal are also back in a big way, with unprecedented spikes in Q4 2020 sales totals that have continued into 2021. With leisurely breakfasts reinvigorated, we launched a campaign for California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) called “Mornings Mean More” to boost sales and engagement for Real California Milk. The campaign utilized digital and in-store shopper tactics to increase awareness for starting the day with a milk-powered breakfast. As companies continue to work from home or shift entirely to remote opportunities this year, it’s safe to say breakfast is back.
2. Immunity boosting ingredients are on the rise
This year, health is of the upmost concern for consumers—and this focus has permeated into food and supplement choices, as well. Shoppers have become more interested in foods that benefit immunity and boost health and in response, brands have been finding innovative ways to put ingredients like elderberries, probiotics, turmeric, and moringa into their products. As Americans continue to focus on their health both inside and out it would not be surprising to see these ingredients, and even some new ones (we’re talking about you, postbiotics), being added into some of your favorite products.
3. Next-level charcuterie
Picture it: a sprawling array of artisan cured meats and cheeses, alongside fruit, nuts, and dips, all arranged in visual fanfare. It’s clear that charcuterie isn’t going anywhere. Throughout 2020 and now into 2021, the market for Italian cured meats, from brands like Citterio USA, is in demand for consumers. An increased focus on product origins and authenticity are helping to catapult this trend, all while offering flavorful snacking solutions.
Meat and cheese aren’t the only stars of the grazing board show. Pinterest predicts that charcuterie trends will continue to grow—but it’s become even more creative. Bagel and pancake-topped breakfast charcuterie boards, candy food boards, and dessert platters are taking over the scene both in-person and across social media because of its highly visually nature. Pinterest has reported a 500% increase year over year in searches for “breakfast charcuterie boards” and a 300% increase for “dessert charcuterie boards.”
4. Nuts and seeds: Tiny and mighty ingredients
As consumers look for cleaner, less processed foods that still taste good in quarantine and beyond, the snack nut category is proving to be tiny and mighty. Traditional nuts and seeds are naturally high in fat, fiber, and protein and low in carbohydrates, which make them perfect ingredients or snacks for health-conscious shoppers not looking to sacrifice on flavor. In addition to snack mixes, nuts like almonds have had tremendous growth in categories such as milk alternatives and non-dairy ice creams, and walnuts have been touted as the secret ingredient to alternative meat products.
5. A growing preference for ethnic food
Nowadays, diverse foods are more accessible—and in demand—than ever. Mordor Intelligence predicts that the global ethnic foods market is projected to increase a CAGR of 11.80% in the next five years. In a trend called food tourism, consumers are increasingly broadening their palates to explore uncharted territories (in lieu of actually traveling there). Consumers are seeking authenticity and value storytelling that provides transparency with the sourcing of ingredients. As this trend continues, we expect to see ethnic foods that once were siloed in the “ethnic aisle” of grocery stores move to other aisles as they become part of the new American table. Don’t be surprised to see tortillas next to hot dog buns and lo mein noodles mingling with dried pasta.
6. The evolution of online grocery and delivery
The demand for online grocery services peaked during the pandemic—and if you still think the younger set is driving this evolution, think again (or better yet, read more here). Online grocery sales are being driven by consumers over 60 years of age, and Insider Intelligence projects that grocery adoption will reach 55%-66% of US consumers by the end of 2024. As this trend becomes more and more prominent, it’s crucial that brands think about how to make it on America’s online grocery list.
Food trends in 2021 are ever evolving but as consumers find their heads above water amidst the anniversary of the pandemic, their focus is on foods that both nourish and add enjoyment to their lives. Looking to take a deeper dive? Connect with us to start the conversation.