2020 has indeed brought about difficulties and altered the lives of people all over the world. Our daily habits and behaviors have shifted dramatically. With the pandemic, people's priorities have also changed, with so many focusing anew on their well-being and health, which includes the food they eat. Thus, food and health culture changed.
The changes have come to fruition this 2021, with a lot of industry experts expecting huge change. So, when it comes to food and nutrition, what does this year and perhaps the following year has in store?
Top Food, Wellness, and Nutrition Trends Today
'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food', as Hippocrates stated. The essence of this statement rings true nowadays - eat foods that nourish you physically and mentally. Because of the big impact of Covid-19 on a lot of people's mental and physical well-being, there is a growing interest in eating healthy food.
1. Home Cooking and Meal Kits
COVID-19's stay-at-home mandates and the government restrictions on restaurant operations have given opportunities for people to learn to cook their food and eat with their families. Many have embraced these changes and realized that home cooking increases their kitchen confidence. It has also become a source of enjoyment instead of a burden.
Mail order meals and kits have also become a part of the trend. The pandemic has taught that home cooking could be an enjoyable and fun experience. Still, with life speeding up again, there will be a growing trend towards health-food boxes and premade meal kits, which save time yet, still enable one to eat healthy from home. In the past year, meal kit delivery services have exponentially grown, thanks to their convenience, healthfulness, and affordability.
It is predicted that by 2027 the meal kit delivery industry will hit $20 billion. Most people love meal kit delivery services since most of the prep work, such as measuring, grocery shopping, and cutting is done already. And, most of these companies focus on sustainable practices, local food, and cater to the various food diets and preferences.
2. Environmental-friendly Food Practices
Reverberating the benefits of localism, diets are expected to change and would include more sustainable, environmentally-friendly food practices. Rather than arguing on a couple of extremes, such as vegans and meat-eaters, many will mostly focus on foods with the least climate impact. Diets, for instance, could involve a lower animal product intake but do not eliminate them.
Rather, consumers could opt for animal products with a lower footprint, like switching beef for chicken or eating several plant-based meals every week. Moreover, consumers could opt to purchase locally-grown products and those that are animal-based to minimize carbon emissions, which is the result of long-distance food delivery.
3. The Shift to Neutral-Ground Approach
The days of extremes are over for a lot of people. This year, a big shift to the middle of the road is happening.
While convincing a meat-eater to go vegan is a huge feat, meeting them somewhere in the middle could be easier. There is a growing push towards minimizing animal product intake. It's interesting to note that 60 percent of millennials are keen on adopting a flexitarian diet, based on a study by Statista.
Consumers may look to change several meat meals for a plant-based one every week. They may also, alternatively lower the portion of animal products in their recipes, adding more plant-based ingredients. Companies may continue promoting plant-based products but develop products containing higher plant-based ingredients as well, and lessen animal-based ones to help consumers find a middle ground.
4. Convenience and Transparency
As the world continues to evolve, there is a shift in how people enjoy food. Although convenience foods have been around for some time, the healthfulness and quality of these foods are getting more important, and brands are expected to be more transparent when it comes to their practices and ingredients.
A lot of people are fed up with false, obscure, and misleading information. Food and health companies have been very secretive about their ingredients and practices in the past. Furthermore, most make health claims with little to no scientific proof at all.
As consumers become more interested in nutritional quality, there is a growing expectation that brands are transparent, clear, and honest on their products. They're expected to use the trend by providing a list of ingredients that are understandable and brief and avoid using controversial ingredients, like artificial flavors, colors, and dyes.
5. Family Nutrition
Adults are not just interested in fine-tuning their diet but also looking for healthier supplements and food options for the whole family.
With more kids staying home and attending virtual schooling, parents now are tasked with making lunches rather than relying on school cafeterias. To better the family health, most parents look for products that not only kids enjoy but nutritious as well.
Furthermore, children's supplements could be used as added protection to support the immune system and avoid nutritional deficiencies, particularly for kids who are picky eaters. Expect more demand for plant-based alternatives for children to support their well-being and health.
6. Daily Breakfast Habit
In the past, students and working adults rush to their schools or workplaces without eating the most important meal of the day - breakfast. Since everyone is now studying and working remotely, there is more time for them to prepare and eat breakfast regularly at home without worrying about the morning rush and commute time.
7. Focus on Reducing Weight
In 2020, many people gained weight due to the pandemic. Staying at home made them eat more comfort foods and practice lazy eating habits. There is a lack of physical movement and sugar has contributed to emotional eating. In 2021, people will focus on ways to lose weight so that they feel increased self-esteem and put more emphasis on healthy, realistic, and sustainable weight loss.
Many are tired of costly diets and supplement gimmicks promising big results but fail to deliver. Today, weight loss programs and restrictive diets plunge as people seek a more balanced health approach instead. Credits to more health and nutrition professionals growing big audiences on social media, we're beginning to see popular-albeit bogus supplements becoming outdated.
8. Shift Towards Natural, Whole Foods
Additionally, more people are embracing eating styles that welcome foods in moderation, since most are not keen on avoiding chocolates for the rest of their lives. People are beginning to embrace other important food aspects, including culture, tradition, and enjoyment.
Consumers seek products from brands that strive for affordable, nonrestrictive, and sustainable approaches to health, like eating a different diet that is comprised of nutrient-dense, whole foods. Moreover, they're also on the lookout for transparent brands when it comes to their messaging and avoids promoting diets that are unhealthy, like starvation, quick weight loss.
9. Need for Immunity Boosters
Food is no longer valued to stave off hunger. The future of food and beverage takes cues from the supplement industry, calling attention to what specific ingredients play to boost overall well-being and health. Covid-19 serves as a reminder for all of us that health is fleeting and can alter anytime.
For a lot of people, this led to looking for food and products that support a healthy immune system to battle illness. Today, more people are taking more supplements to boost immunity. The growing interest and rising demand for immune health will remain a top focus of the health and wellness industry this year and in the years to come.
Rather than concentrating on treating illnesses, a lot of consumers today strive to prevent them through a strengthened immune system.
10. Prioritizing Mental Wellness
For a lot of people, mental health has become a priority. Although food alone could not cure or treat anxiety, stress, or depression, consuming a mostly minimally processed diet rich in different nutrients could help support mental health. Diets that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber, and other bioactive compounds like probiotics, have been associated with better mental health.
What is noteworthy this year is that more food and beverage companies have come up with products containing the ingredients mentioned above, with emphasis on improving sleep and reducing stress, which of course leads to better mental health. Functional beverages in particular that contain stress-reducing compounds, like adaptogens that could help the body adapt to stress, and the CBD or the cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive part of cannabis, will become more popular.
Nonetheless, although these products may support mental health and minimize stress, a specific diet should not be a replacement for prescription medications or other treatment methods, like therapy. Your diet, instead, should be one piece of the puzzle to mental wellness.
11. Localism and Backstory
More consumers are looking to support local brands with a purpose and backstory instead of big companies. Based on the COVID-19 Barometer of Kantar, 52 percent of respondents said they pay more attention to the origin of products, intending to buy local.
A lot of consumers also are interested in learning the backstory of a brand, like a multigenerational family-run business for instance. Brands have to focus on the meaning behind their products and provide consumers a reason to purchase over the competition. A great packaging no longer makes a product appealing, but instead the effect of buying it. The lockdowns and shutdowns gave people a revitalized appreciation of their locality, particularly food suppliers, such as farmers markets, grocery stores, and restaurants. There would be a growing interest in buying and consuming food that's locally grown. It does not only support the local economy, but in general, is fresher, and has a less environmental footprint.
The Bottom Line This year, expect a great shift in the food industry. The days of unnecessary ingredients, false promises, and extreme diets are long gone. Before 2021 draws to a close, it's expected that more people will be eating food with a purpose, story, and serves health and society.