STILLWATER, Okla. — It’s been a long 365 days filled with uncertainty and change. The one constant, however, was a continued love for both food and cooking across the nation.
As the pandemic shifted lives, it also shifted the tastes and preferences of American consumers, sparking actions likely to change the food industry next year.
Change is inevitable — pandemic or not — and is a major force when it comes to food trends, said Andrea Graves, business planning and marketing specialist for the Oklahoma State University Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center.
“Businesses need to pay attention to trends in order to find new growth opportunities and their target audiences,” Graves said. “Understanding these trends helps businesses stay ahead of upcoming change, whether it is regulatory or a new flavor profile. In most cases, consumers drive the trends and are looking for products and companies that are meeting their needs and lifestyles.”
Take a look at the top 10 trends for 2021, predicted by FAPC.
1. Wanting Well-Being: The world may have been unpredictable and somewhat scary for people during the pandemic this year, but individuals turned to food for increased well-being, both physically and mentally. Next year will see a continued emphasis on foods that not only boost a body nutritionally, but also are deemed “better” for the environment. From green and organic to superfoods, consumers are going to spend the upcoming year on the hunt for products that nourish both the body and mind.
2. Pantry Perfect: Quarantine sparked a love for home cooking in individuals across the planet. The need to convert pantry items into drool-worthy meals created a love for time in the kitchen, and it is predicted the new year will see a continued desire to stay in rather than eat out.
3. Finessed Fryer: A combination of the two previously mentioned trends, air fryers are expected to be one of the top appliances in the kitchen as they allow consumers to make a healthy and satisfying meal at home.
4. Bakery Homebase: Another product of quarantine cooking was the desire to bake bread at home. From loaves of white bread to the crackle of sourdough crust as home bakers try something a little more challenging, FAPC predicts next year will see more people joining in on the trend of continuing to whip up their own bread at home.
5. Back to Breakfast: With less of a rush to get to work since many individuals were staying at home, a focus on the importance of breakfast re-emerged. It is not called the most important meal of the day for nothing! Expect large breakfasts, healthy morning meals and even brunch sessions to gain traction next year.
6. Caffeine Capital: It took a little added boost of energy for people to get through 2020, creating a worldwide taste for coffee. FAPC predicts coffee flavors will be finding their way into a multitude of products. From crunchy treats such as granola to decadently flavored chocolate bars, people will be able to satisfy their taste for caffeine in products outside a coffee cup next year.
7. Oil Options: In the midst of developing a taste for cooking at home, consumers have also found a desire to cook with oils other than olive or vegetable. Oils coming from seeds such as sunflowers and pumpkins will be replacing more common cooking oils to help create dishes with more health benefits and flavors.
8. Checking Out Chickpeas: Products such as hummus and falafel have made chickpeas a sought-after vegetable in past years, but 2021 is going to bring an even bigger demand. Offering a lot of fiber and filling the role of a plant-based protein option, chickpeas are going to be making a big splash in grocery stores as they appear on shelves in the form of tofu, flour and even cereal.
9. Jerky Jaunt: Carnivores aren’t going to be the only ones enjoying jerky next year. From mushrooms to jackfruit, a variety of vegetables and fruits are going to start being served jerky-style. This snack will offer the same nutrients of fresh produce but will now possess shelf stability.
10. Dishing up Dessert: With such a difficult year, it should be no surprise the demand for dessert is expected to be at an all-time high next year. Consumers turned to sweet treats to help stay positive in 2020, so be on the lookout for a continuation of demand for elevated desserts of all kinds