One thing I always look forward to during the final stretch of any year are the forecasts and outlooks for the year ahead. This year in particular has seen so many upheavals and shifts in consumer trends, it has been tough to keep track of what’s happening. That makes the insights into where we might be going feel a little more important this year. In the food space, Whole Foods Market has just released its forecast for the top 2021 trends which it notes are heavily influenced by the pandemic. Whole Foods Chief Marketing Officer Sonya Gafsi Oblisk says, “There have been radical shifts in consumer habits in 2020. For example, shoppers have found new passions for cooking, they’ve purchased more items related to health and wellness, and more are eating breakfast at home every day compared to pre-COVID.”
Whole Foods says its 2021 trends report reveals some of the early ways the food industry is adapting and innovating in response to COVID-19 for a post-pandemic food world. As most predictions go, these probably have some biases built in that lean heavy on the type of products Whole Foods is selling. The grocer has a decent track record for identifying trends in the natural-organic-healthy matrix, though. Below are Whole Foods Market’s top 10 food trend predictions for 2021:
Well-Being: The lines are blurring between the supplement and grocery aisles, and that trend will accelerate in 2021. That means more superfoods, probiotics, broths, and sauerkrauts. Suppliers are incorporating functional ingredients like vitamin C, mushrooms and adaptogens to foster a calm headspace and support the immune system. For obvious reasons, people want this pronto.
Epic Breakfast Every Day: With more people working from home, the most important meal is getting the attention it deserves, not just on weekends, but every day. There’s a whole new lineup of innovative products tailored to people paying more attention to what they eat in the morning. Think pancakes on weekdays, sous vide egg bites, and even “eggs” made from mung beans.
Basics with a Twist: With more time in the kitchen, home chefs are looking for hot, new takes on pantry staples. Pasta, sauces, spices — the basics don’t have to be boring. Get ready for reimagined classics.
Coffee Beyond the Mug: Coffee is jumping well beyond a brewed pot and into all kinds of foods. You can now get your coffee fix in the form of flavored bars and granolas, smoothie boosters and booze, even coffee yogurt for those looking to crank up that breakfast parfait.
Gourmet Baby Food: Taking culinary innovation into the baby food aisle, parents have never had a wider or richer range of ingredients to choose from. Think rhubarb, rosemary, purple carrots and omega-3-rich flaxseeds, along with convenient and portable packaging that’s portable, like on-the-go squeeze pouches.
Upcycled Foods: Peels and stems have come a long way from the compost bin. We’re seeing a huge rise in packaged products that use neglected and underused parts of an ingredient as a path to reducing food waste.
Changing Oils: Slide over, olive oil. At-home chefs are branching out to oils that each add their own unique flavor and properties. Walnut and pumpkin seed oils lend a delicious nutty flavor, while sunflower seed oil is hitting the shelves in a bunch of new products and is versatile enough to use at high temps or in salad dressing.
Boozy Kombucha: Whole Foods correctly predicted the rise of hard seltzer a few years back and now says alcoholic kombucha is making a strong flex on the beverage aisle. It checks a lot of boxes for the “healthier booze” crowd: It’s gluten-free, it’s super bubbly, and can be filled with live probiotic cultures.
Mighty Chickpeas: Rich in fiber and plant-based protein, chickpeas are the new cauliflower — popping up in products like chickpea tofu, chickpea flour and even chickpea cereal.
Fruit and Veggie Jerky: Jerky isn’t just for meat lovers anymore. Now all kinds of produce from mushrooms to jackfruit are being served jerky-style, providing a new, shelf-stable way to enjoy fruits and veggies. The produce is dried at the peak freshness to preserve nutrients and yumminess. If that’s not enough, suppliers are literally spicing things up with finishes of chili, salt, ginger and cacao drizzle. (Source: Whole Foods)