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2020 has undoubtedly been an unpredictable year for most of us, especially when it came to consumer needs and trends. With this, to make 2021 a bit more predictable, let’s take a look at the top food and beverage trends of 2021 determined by our Foresight Engine.

Our team at AI Palette strives to advance algorithms to be able to predict emerging trends. Constantly being on top of consumer insights has aided us in discovering the top five trends in the food and beverage industries of major nations like The United States, China, India, and the Philippines.

Heightened interest in holistic wellbeing and post-quarantine lifestyle changes are key themes to look forward to in 2021. 

Food Trends 2021

Modernisation of Traditional Herbal Remedies

The impact and intensity of the virus have inspired people to adapt to the changing demands of living in the pandemic era. We continue to see a push toward sustainable living, including the re-emergence of herbal remedies that puts a spotlight on products like Jamu in Indonesia, Kadha in India, and Garlic or Ginger in several other markets. To not lose out on this new market, companies are tapping into innovative immunity-boosting products to appeal to the younger crowd. US-based Weller, a wellness-focused beverage manufacturer, is one of the latest to join this bandwagon launching a series of Elderberry sparkling drinks enriched with vitamins and minerals. These drinks were targeted to people on-the-go promoting immunity and convenience together.

Ingredients like Red Ginger and Curcuma which are popularly found in Jamu, a traditional Indonesian herbal drink were used to enhance carbonated drinks recently launched by an Indonesian beverage company, Jammu. 

Employing Food for Reflection

The conversation around mental health has strengthened during lockdown with an increase in uncertainty accompanied by anxiety and stress. Herewith, in The United States and India, the demand for food and beverages helping in relaxation and enhancing sleep is on the rise. Other than only comfort foods, consumers are also turning to foods to de-stress and to improve focus and concentration.

An “enhanced water beverage”, Driftwell was launched by PepsiCo in The United States in September 2020 that claimed to aid sleep with the help of ingredients like L-Theanine and Magnesium. In response, a supplement drink by Coca Cola in China was also launched intending to improve sleeping patterns and promote skincare. Product launches like these are great examples of how companies can cater to the market with new innovative products focusing on the consumer’s mental health.

Relaxing Drink

Going Back to 2019

There have been numerous lifestyle changes that we have had to make over these past few months including incorporating and prioritising active living in response to leading an involuntary inactive lifestyle. Unwanted changes in physical appearances have taken place resulting in a rise in intermittent fasting, keto, and high protein diets among consumers. Food products loaded with healthy fats ingredients like Sorghum, Nuts, and Sunflower seeds flew off the shelves noticeably faster in 2020 due to the increased awareness about health ingredients among consumers. In addition, Greek yoghurt manufacturer, Chobani came up with Chobani Complete, an all-new high protein, no sugar range to serve their fitness-focused consumers for their fitness needs and improved digestion.

Bringing Plant Protein Home

Creative dishes by plant-based meat innovators, Impossible Foods, Imagine Meats, and Zhenmeat has been introduced in Singapore, India, and China to expand their existing customer base of vegans and pescatarians to fitness in general. Local palettes and taste preferences have been satisfied by exceptional dishes like “Vegan Pork and Crayfish”, “Impossible Rendang Pie” as well as “Vegan Kebabs” to name a few. The invention of such unique dishes shows us how imagination and creativity matters since plant-based protein-rich foods like tofu, chickpea, and lentils were already popular in Asia.

Alternate Protein Ai Palette

Experimenting with Diverse Foods

Pre-COVID, travelling to multiple locations was the source of getting introduced to unfamiliar tastes and dishes. For obvious reasons, this pandemic has forced us to stay in our homes sticking to the foods we know to love. However, food is key to getting familiarised with other cultures and being restricted to one place has opened up new avenues for imagination and creativity, as mentioned above. Flavours and ingredients from various cultures are being used to inculcate a sense of freshness amidst the monotonous lives during the lockdown. To give an example, American grocery chain Trader Joe’s have launched Harissa flavoured Chicken Thighs, owing to the classic Tunisian flavour’s popularity in the United States. On a similar note, New Jersey-based start-up, Vegky has introduced Shiitake Mushroom Jerky, a 100% Vegan snack offering Asian flavours like Curry and Wasabi. 

This article is based on Food Trends 2021.