The year 2020 brought hardships and change for many people around the globe, and our everyday habits and behaviors have dramatically shifted.
Our priorities have changed as well, with many people focusing anew on their health and well-being, including what they eat. As a result, food and health cultures have changed.
Putting an end to 2020 feels cathartic. This year has put an unprecedented strain on our lives, affecting us in ways big and small—in ways obvious and in ways we likely haven't even started to understand. Yes, 2020 has transformed us. With 2021 now here, we understand that our journey is not done. We still have challenges ahead. We are still learning and growing.
When we look at the year ahead in the well-being space, what we see reflects that. We are pushing to make a healthier society—through things like metabolic health or accessibility to fresh, whole foods. We are realizing that when we let nature do what it's supposed to do, we are better for it: from the tiny, microscopic world of our skin microbiome to the planet itself. And we are coming together, to find innovative fixes to systems or mindsets that do not serve us: from unrealistic parenting standards to the way we've underprioritized mental health.
All of these things, and more, emerged because of last year. It was a hard one, but let's do our best to make sure that we are better because of it.
Foods won’t just be valued for staving off hunger pains. The future of food and drink will take cues from the supplement market, calling attention to the roles that specific ingredients play in improving overall health and well-being.
COVID-19 was a reminder that health is transient and can change at any time. For many, this led to looking for products that could support a healthy immune system to better prepare them for illness.
According to Market Research, over 50% of consumers reported taking more supplements to support their immune health in 2020.
This growing interest in immune health will continue to be a top focus of the health and wellness industry in 2021. Rather than focusing on treating conditions, many consumers will strive to prevent them via a strengthened immune system.
In response to this, the food industry will take notes from the supplement industry by creating products with added nutrients that may support immune function and overall health, such as zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
What’s more, alternative remedies have and are expected to continue to increase in sales in 2021. Elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, turmeric, and ginger are some of the top selling herbal supplements claimed to help boost your immune system.
Furthermore, purpose-driven ingredients are predicted to be at the forefront of the food industry. Examples of this include adding olive oil to support heart health, vitamin C to boost the immune system, or probiotics in kombucha to promote a healthy digestive system.
These products will continue to create a buzz.
Since the pandemic’s beginnings, several studies have shown that micronutrients such as vitamins C and D and zinc have been known to boost the immune system and reduce the risk of respiratory infection. With SARS-CoV-2 being a respiratory infection, these nutrients have been prescribed and advised by health care professionals since the beginning of the pandemic. The authors of this study wrote that these nutrients could be obtained from diets and dietary supplements, taken alone or as part of a multinutrient or multivitamin tablet.
Several other dietary supplements are also known to benefit health and the immune system. These include omega-3 fatty acids (“fish oil”), probiotics and plant isolates like garlic, wrote the researchers. They added, “The use of specific dietary supplements in both prevention and acute treatment of infection with SARS-CoV-2 has been promoted since the beginning of the current coronavirus pandemic”.
Mental health has also become a priority for many people.
While food alone cannot treat or cure depression, anxiety, or stress, eating a mostly minimally processed diet rich in a variety of nutrients may help support your mental health.
Diets rich in antioxidants, vitamins (e.g., B vitamins), minerals (e.g., zinc, magnesium), fiber, healthy fats (e.g., omega-3s), and other bioactive compounds, such as probiotics, have been linked to better mental well-being, though higher quality studies are needed (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
In 2021, we’ll notice more food and beverage companies coming out with products that contain these ingredients with an emphasis on reducing stress and improving sleep, which is also linked to better mental health.
An increasing number of consumers are looking to support local companies with a backstory and purpose rather than large corporations.
In fact, according to Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer, 52% of respondents stated they pay more attention to the origin of their products.
The pandemic shutdowns gave many people a renewed appreciation of their local community, especially the food purveyors — grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants — that kept food on our plates.
Going forward, there will be a growing interest in purchasing and consuming locally grown food. It supports the local economy, is generally fresher, and has less of an environmental impact.
Many consumers are also interested in learning a company’s backstory, such as a multigenerational family-run business.
Companies should focus on the meaning behind their products and give consumers a reason to purchase their products over those of their competitors.
For many, nice packaging alone no longer makes a product appealing, but rather the impact of purchasing it.
Trying to convince a meat-eater to go vegan is a big feat, but meeting them somewhere in the middle may be easier.
Rather than trying to convince omnivores to ditch meat and animal products entirely, there will be a growing push to reduce the intake of animal products. Interestingly, up to 60% of millennials are interested in adopting a flexitarian diet, according to Statista.
Consumers may look to swap a few meat-based meals for plant-based ones each week. Alternatively, they may decrease the portion of animal products in their recipes and add more plant-based ingredients.
Companies will continue to promote plant-based products but also develop products that contain higher amounts of plant-based ingredients and lower amounts of animal-based ones to help customers find a middle ground.
The way we enjoy food continues to shift as the world changes.
Though convenience food has been around for a long time, the quality and healthfulness of these foods are becoming more important, and companies are expected to be more transparent about their ingredients and practices.
The year 2020 taught many of us that cooking from home can be a fun and enjoyable experience. Still, with life starting to speed up again, we’ll see a growing trend toward premade meal kits and health-food boxes that save time but still allow you to eat healthy from home.
Meal kit delivery services have grown exponentially in the past year thanks to their healthfulness, convenience, and affordability. In fact, the meal kit delivery market is projected to become a $20 billion industry by 2027, according to Grand View Research.
Many people love meal kit delivery services because most of the prep work like grocery shopping, measuring, and cutting is already done. For a busy person who usually eats takeout during the week, this makes eating healthy much easier and convenient
Many people are tired of misleading, false, or obscure information.
In the past, food and supplement companies have been very private about their ingredients and practices. Moreover, many make health claims that have little to no scientific proof to back them up.
With consumers more interested in the nutritional quality of the food products they consume, there will be a growing expectation that companies are clear, transparent, and honest about their products.
They’re expected to utilize this trend by providing ingredient lists that are short and understandable and avoiding the use of controversial ingredients, such as artificial colors, flavors, and dyes.
What’s more, many consumers will look to support companies with philanthropic practices, such as giving part of their proceeds to an honorable cause, supporting educational opportunities for employees, or protecting the environment.
With more kids attending virtual schooling and staying home, parents are now tasked with making lunches instead of relying on the school cafeteria.
To better their family’s health, many parents will be looking for products that are enjoyable for their kids but still nutritious. Furthermore, given growing concerns about sugar and artificial ingredients in the diet, they’ll be looking for foods made with more natural ingredients.
In addition, supplements for children may be used as added protection to support their immune system and prevent nutritional deficiencies, especially for children who are considered to be picky eaters.
Finally, expect a rise in plant-based options for children to support health and well-being. Many parents hope this will teach their children sustainable and healthy food habits they can use throughout their lives.
Many adults are not only interested in fine-tuning their own diet but also finding healthier food and supplement options for the entire family.
The bottom line
In 2021 you can look forward to a huge shift in the food industry.
Gone are the days of extreme diets, unnecessary ingredients, and false promises. As we move forward in 2021, we’ll see more people looking to eat food that has a purpose, story, and serves society and health.
From Health Trends 2021 point of view, these changes appear to be a step in the right direction by focusing on things that truly matter. As such, I look to 2021 with excitement — and I hope you do, too.