As we enter the final stretch of 2020, everyone’s eyes are turned toward 2021.

We’re all wondering what the political, social and public health landscape will look like next year, but what about the food industry? What should brand owners, product developers and manufacturers consider?

Innova Market Insights recently released its Top Ten Trends report for 2021, illustrating how the food industry has evolved. This is especially important in light of COVID-19, which has touched every facet of the food industry.

Innova says consumers will remain focused on their overall health and finding products that support it.

“Transparency throughout the supply chain will dominate in 2021, with consumers searching for brands that can build trust, provide authentic and credible products and create shopper confidence in the current and post-COVID climate,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of insights and innovation at Innova Market Insights.

Here are the Top Ten Trends Innova expects to see in 2021:

  1. Transparency Triumphs
  2. Plant-Forward
  3. Tailored to Fit
  4. New Omnichannel Eating
  5. In Tune with Immune
  6. Nutrition Hacking
  7. Mood: The Next Occasion 
  8. Product Mashups: When Trends Collide
  9. Modern Nostalgia
  10. Age of the Influencer

Through its Innova Consumer Survey 2020, the market research firm found six in 10 consumers are interested in learning more about where food comes from. Increasing transparency to meet heightening expectations for ethical, environmental and clean-label standards will be key.

Consumers will continue to seek plant-based products into 2021. Innova says its increasing mainstream acceptance will push the trend into different regions and categories next year through accelerated demand for new formats, plant proteins and more sophisticated alternatives. The Innova Consumer Survey 2020 found the Top 4 reasons consumers consume plant-based products are health, diet variety, sustainability and taste.
On a related note, personalized nutrition will remain popular as consumers seek food and beverage products that correspond with their individual style, beliefs and needs. Technological breakthroughs will continue to offer consumers greater insight into their personal nutrition needs.

With COVID-19 prompting consumers to stay home and cook more for themselves, they’re turning to meal kits and starters to deliver new food experiences. Additionally, the Innova Consumer Survey 2020 revealed 46 percent of consumers believe restaurant-branded products are a convenient way to attain the restaurant experience and flavors at home.

And as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, consumers will prioritize their immune health. Innova says immunity-boosting ingredients will become increasingly important over the next year, while research and interest in the microbiome and personalized nutrition as ways to support immunity will continue.

Much remains uncertain as we head into the last two months of 2020, but the food industry will certainly adapt to meet consumers’ needs, no matter what is thrown its way.