A Look Ahead: 2021 Food/Nutrition/Fitness Trends | Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB)

A Look Ahead: 2021 Food/Nutrition/Fitness Trends

Posted by: on Tuesday January 12, 2021

Does everyone has a list of 2021 food/nutrition trends? It seems so, there are more than a dozen here. As you read these 2021 trend forecasts you will see the footprint of the pandemic in many of them – in some cases  the pandemic accelerated some changes that would have occurred further down the road. Note: some trend lists rely on data analysis, others are based on observations, others rely on expert input and some are a mix. Enjoy a look at the year ahead in food/health/nutrition/fitness!

Some trends observed in many of the 2021 trend lists…

More than one forecaster pointed to the pandemic as influencing predictions when noting our need for sleep/improved mood/de-stressing/relaxation (which explains our seeking food/drink or supplements to address these needs). Most often mentioned were plant-based food, food transparency, local foods and climate change/eco-labels. Although forecasters mentioned a wide range of specific foods, chickpeas came up more than once as did searching for ways to ‘up the flavor‘ when cooking at home with spices, sauces, condiments. Notable also were mentions of BIPOC (BIPOC: black/indigenous/persons of color) and women-focused businesses/foods and upcycling. The influence of tech continues with grocery/meal delivery and virtual cooking classes/consults with RDNs.

The pandemic effect…

  • Food trends forecast 2021: how to stay healthy in a post-pandemic world highlights how the pandemic has changed shoppers’ relationship with grocery stores, with food and their health. 2021 trends highlighted include increased plant foods, blended foods like the blended burger, immunity and our need to relax (note Driftwell, a new drink).
  • COVID-19: driving demand in functional foods during 2021  looks at the long-term consumer interest in immunity ramped up by the pandemic – almost 1/3 (29%) are consuming more functional foods/drinks than in years past. With regard to technology, continue to see tele-health as RDs with grocery stores use it to connect with shoppers. Also we will continue to see food labels touting food transparency with QR codes providing more in-depth info about products.
  • The mobile-ization of groceries notes that 89% of U.S. shoppers use a smartphone and more than 7 in 10 use a grocer’s app. The pandemic accelerated this trend.

Food and nutrition trends…

  •  More eco-labels are appearing on food packages causing shopper confusion. Focus is turning to regenerative agriculture to address climate change. The pandemic has influenced some companies to include social and economic justice under the umbrella of sustainability as they recognize the inequalities in the food system.
  • Whole Foods‘ trend list comes from a wide/deep group to shape their list which includes well-being (probiotics, superfoods and more), fruit and veggie jerky, chickpeas (they’re everywhere)…and more.
  •  includes functional foods (the pandemic…again), local food buying, a focus on climate changeno extremes…in dieting and eating – flexitarianism rising – and more!
  • Food trends 2021: which new food and drink products will be hot in 2021? centers on the middle ground/moderation/reducing not eliminating, sweet and umami combinations, carob returns, chickpeasallulose (a new sweetener) and more!
  • WGSN, a global trend forecaster, cites 8 rising trends for 2021 including lab-grown foodscacao to satisfy chocolate flavor, foods that address our brain/help us sleep and more.
  • ADM 5 top 2021 trends sees wellness (the gut microbiome), sustainabilityplant foods and transparency as trends to watch for in 2021.
  • Mashed’s food trends includes alternative cooking oilsupcycled foodplant jerky joins plant-based foodsgut-friendly food, seeking healthy foods and more.
  • Innova Market Insights share their top 10 2021 nutrition trends includes transparencyplant-forwardimmunitymood and more.
  • Yelp predicts 8 food trends for 2021 which include honey used in new and different ways, birria (Mexican spiced meat)hard seltzer, sando (Japanese sandwiches) and more!
  • RDs make 2021 trend predictions that includes mindful eating, personalized nutrition, plant-based and BIPOC/women-centered food leaders.
  • One RDN’s plant-based trends include cauliflower, chickpeas, savory snack bars, fruit as a sweetener, plant-based convenience meals, vegan condiments and more!
  • This RDN’s 2021 trends are a little different than other lists. It includes postbiotics, increased interest in brewing coffee @ home and creamers, microgreens, kelp, restaurant food carbon footprint info, authentic sauces and other condiments (since many can’t eat out) and more!
  • The team at Natural Grocers’ made up of RDs, chefs, buyers and analysts shares their trends including Vitamin D, immunity, de-stressing, focus on climate changevegetables take center stage and more.
  • The pandemic trend that’s sticking: alternative flours.
  • Delish’s 15 food trends includes some trends seen elsewhere (plant-based food, delivery services and virtual cooking classes) but this one caught my eye: ‘charcuterie’ boards for hot cocoa/pancakes (instead of cheese or meat charcuterie boards, how about items to customize your hot cocoa or pancakes?), eco-conscious packaginghomemade pasta and more.
  • Instacart’s first grocery/at-home cooking trends looks ahead to 2021 including a huge interest in bolder flavors when cooking at home (2 examples: Piri-Piri sauce jumped 725%, chili crisp up 227%). Anything with ‘keto’ in the name increased 72% in Instacart orders with Westerners ordering more of these foods. Customers are looking online for hard seltzersLocal foods? Check…23% of those surveyed say they researched locally owned/run brands; 14% indicated they researched women owned/run brands and 14% said the same for BIPOC-owned/run (black/indigenous/people of color) brands.
  • Martha Stewart’s experts on 2021 trends offers their trends including pestochickpeas everywhere, upcycling (one example is baking flour made from okara – upcycled soybean pulp) and DIYrestaurant kits to name a few.
  • Plant-based brands and innovations to watch in 2021 include seafood, bacon (not made w/gluten or soy protein), milk made with pineapple and cabbage. And there is more: pea-protein based lamb burgers and plant-based meat with oats. Two proteins: chickpea and canola were noted. Impossible Foods gets into milk, McDonald’s will test their plant-based burger, McPlantRetailers (Walmart and others) and ‘Big Meat’ invest in plant-based.
  • 15 vegan food trends from PETA includes the ‘takeover’ of fast food menus, restaurants and brands, vegan eggs, pork and fish, BIPOC-owned businesses, social justice and vegan brands, ‘meaty’ veggies, TikTok is home for vegans and influencers, clearly labeled vegan wine, vegan chocolate, vegan bakery offerings at the grocery and more!
  • Institute of Food Technologists trends includes a look at breadfruitfront-of-package nutrition labels tied to improved nutrition content (premium brands and brands with fewer products had better nutritional profiles than their counterparts) and 3-D printing of milk-based products.
  • A peek at trends impacting the food industry includes an expansion of comfort foods (did you know Gen Z sees baby carrots as comfort?) and flavors/ingredients including fermented honey, honeysuckle, carob, chicory root and more!
  • 2021 Mexican food trends from a top Hispanic food brand sees a move to making homemade flour and corn tortillas, a desire for rich sauces like mole continues and more!

Webinar on 2021 food trends…

A 2021 Retail Dietitians Business Alliance webinar about how the pandemic will influence food shopping in 2021 and beyond (about 16 minutes in, 54 min). Phil Lempert, Supermarket Guru shared this datapoint that is likely to influence retail strategizes to entice more online shoppers – 60% of online shoppers said they’d be more likely to buy something online if they could see it in 3D or AR (augmented reality) according to a Harris Poll. Other trends were mentioned and echo the ones mentioned above.


Eating out…

  • Trending for restaurants in 2021 according to FSR (Full-Service Restaurant) magazine includes increased usage of terms that mean ‘safe to eat’ (one example is sanitation-certified), eco-conscious/plant-based packaging as consumers take stock of all the takeout they’ve ordered (one alcohol is going to be available in a bottle made from wood pulp), ghost kitchens, social media influencers go from those with knowledge to anyone with a following, DTC (direct-to-consumer) sales by companies/farms, curated food experiences as chefs partner with grocery stores to sell their products, BIPOC interest increases including #Black Food Fridays as a call to highlight black-owned restaurants/products. COVID highlights the importance of food safety/increases training, smaller menus, OTT (over-the-top) comfort vegan foods as customers seek flavor and more!
  • Food & Wine asked chefs and here is what they say to watch for in 2021 when we get past the pandemic and eat out more often: – interest in Black foodways, heritage food with an emphasis on foods of immigrant heritage, restaurant-style meals for at-home, tofu, condiments, mushrooms, alternative sugars, local food, virtual cooking classes and more.
  • Fast food restaurants‘ pandemic re-design looks at how the pandemic has changed the look and function of Burger King, Chipotle, KFC, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Taco Bell. These changes include Burger King’s design including pickup lockers, Chipotle/KFC’s plans for a smaller store footprint, Starbucks pickup-only stores and more drive-thru @ Taco Bell and McDonald’s.

Fitness and nutrition trends…

Keep your eye on more ways to get food online in 2021…