‘Wow’ Worthy Food and Beverage Trends

Posted January 21, 2021 by Alyssa Stahr

Every end of year, my inbox gets inundated with predictions for the future. What are consumers going to be looking for in the new year? What trends will take over, and which ones will gain momentum or fizzle out from the year before? We’re almost a month into 2021 (already) and I can safely say that this year, hot on the heels of the disruption of 2020, is shaping up to be ripe with product innovation and consumer buying tendencies like I’ve never seen before.

Comfort Eating 

Comfort eating is hardly a new concept. But, with more consumers staying at home, working from home and generally being homebound more than ever in our lifetimes, food and beverage manufacturers and restaurants have had to rapidly adapt to a need for quick, healthy and mentally uplifting imbibements. Food Dive reports that a major theme that will continue in 2021 is health, and Innova identified immunity as a top trend for 2021. More on that later, as consumers are taking health a step further, combining it with comfort foods. Food Navigator says: “As tempting as it may be to find comfort in decadent or nostalgic dishes, many Americans realize a healthy diet and lifestyle is one of their best defenses against the coronavirus. As such, IFIC found one in three American have improved their diets in the past year.” Thus, instead of being couch potatoes, consumers are shifting to being couch gluten-free puffs, veggie sticks and sugar-free snackers

Self-Care, Immunity, Mental Health Through Food

It comes as no surprise that in our internal goal list, most of us had some sort of “take care of myself” personal intent in mind. For the first time in almost a decade, fragrance and taste company Firmenich has selected two hero ingredients — a familiar and unfamiliar — for 2021. The company cites ginger and yuzu as trending ingredients that reflect a “potent agent of change,” and that people “are eating for strength. They’re literally changing their diets to boost their immune systems and to feel stronger, and they’re really treating food like care and medicine.” Take a gander at almost every trend list set for 2021, and all of them will have some sort of immunity prediction

Red is the New ‘It’ Color

No, we’re not talking about one of Taylor Swift’s best albums (feel free to argue that point in the comments). A number of forecasting trend reports are naming red as a color of the year. Exberry Coloring Foods supplier GNT Group says that red “is set to shake up the food and beverage industry in 2021 thanks to its ability to spark powerful emotions.” It’s a hue that signifies power and energy, and it’s the color of love. Additionally, red has the ability to “fire up strong feelings of passion and desire” and has an appeal with Instagrammers with an edge of excitement. Bright reds, Food Dive reports. “Trigger a person’s appetite because they signal nutrient and calorie-rich,” and in some cases, color is just as important as taste with humans. Research has shown that 90% of consumers choose products due to color and perceived taste.

Hold Your Liquor

This trend is one that’s surprising me the most. In times where I certainly have wanted to drink more than ever, most people are searching for lo- and no-alcoholic beverages. They want the comfort, but without the calories. And, beer and spirits manufacturers are crafting their lineups to reflect. Low calorie, low sugar, low ABV: How low can you go? Product manufacturers are answering the call with hard seltzers, fizzy flavored waters and CBD enriched drinks. The options are endless, and we’ve got more time than ever to taste test our favorites.

Putting the ‘Wow’ Factor into Food and Packaging

In just one month, I’ve seen some of the coolest products ever, proving that a global pandemic hasn’t stopped research and development — in fact, I think it’s proven to be a positive. All-day snacking, flexitarianism, plant-based expansion and calls for transparency via cleaner labels and sustainability have led to internal conversations that usually lead with, “Did you see this?” From immune boosting fruit balls to aquafaba queso (aquafaba is still one of my favorite words) to edible and 100% biodegradable packaging, I’m really excited to see what 2021 holds in terms of new product releases and overall cool offerings. The future is bright!

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