• Recipe Guru Team

Food Trends 2021: How our 2020 experiences will shape the way we shop, eat and cook in 2021

It's hard to believe that 2021 is just one month away. Many of us are looking forward to saying goodbye to 2020 and hello to a fresh new year, but our 2020 experiences will continue to be reflected in how we choose to eat in 2021. Here are five 2021 food trends you need to be aware of if you work in food and beverage marketing or use recipe content as part of your marketing strategy.

Home cooking with a twist

Experiential retail gained traction in 2019 and was expected to grow exponentially in 2020. No one could have predicted that the demand for experiences would shift to our kitchens and living rooms. This is a trend that will continue in 2021. From cooking demonstrations to in-depth cooking classes, virtual experiences will continue to be popular, whether lockdown cooks are hoping to take their cooking skills to the next level or busy parents are just hoping to learn new dishes. The demand will be driven by localised lockdowns, anxiety over out-of-home experiences and a renewed love for home cooking.

The 2020 home cooking trend was born of necessity and while this will continue in 2021, consumers will be looking to shake things up a bit. "We will see consumers looking to brighten and enliven the monotony of preparing so many meals in a row," says Mintel's Melanie Zanoza Bartelme. Recipe content that transports consumers to a different country or helps them recreate an out-of-home experience at home will grab the attention of people who are trying to add a sense of excitement to everyday life. Think homemade stadium favourites on game day or concession stand treats for movie night.

How to approach this food trend in 2021

Out-of-home food opportunities may have dried up, but people are not ready to cook and eat the same foods day in, day out. Invest in recipe content that helps consumers recreate out-of-home experiences in their own homes.

Healthy eating - whatever that means to consumers

Most consumers have great intentions when it comes to healthy eating but intentions don't always reflect reality. It's safe to say that most of us have spent a lot more time sitting on the sofa in 2020 than expected and we have had legitimate reasons to embrace comfort food so our health has taken a bit of a hit this year. 62% of Americans are concerned about their health. 2021 is when consumers take back control of their health but how that will play out depends on people's goals and what healthy eating means to them. Functional eating is high on the agenda with a focus on:

  • immune system boosting foods

  • gut health

  • emerging evidence that Vitamin D deficiency has a part to play in the severity of Covid-19 symptoms

How to approach this food trend in 2021

Highlight the health benefits of the products you sell and the recipes you share in a clear and simple way to help consumers take control of their health.

Authenticity matters

Food media faced a reckoning in 2020 as diversity and authenticity in food became a major talking point amid Black Lives Matter protests. Bon Appetit responded to criticism by auditing and updating problematic recipe content and hiring a more diverse staff, although the company lost many of its star chefs in the process and NYT Cooking updated their recipe bylines to properly credit the source of their recipes. Consumers learned a lot about authenticity in food in 2020, and this knowledge will shape the way they approach food in 2021. One way to approach this trend for 2021 is to focus on the story behind the recipe. Is it inspired by a particular culture? Is its name appropriate to its ingredients or would it be more appropriate to add '-inspired' to its name? People are curious to try new flavours (83% of American millennials enjoy trying different types of foods) and lacking in inspiration so balancing your recipe database with authentic recipe content from a variety of cuisines is a smart strategy.

How to approach this food trend in 2021

Leverage consumers' craving for unfamiliar-to-them flavours in a way that celebrates and respects different cultures by sourcing recipe content from authentic voices.

Buy, cook and eat local

Local lockdowns and economic uncertainty brought the issue of supporting local to the fore in 2020. These new habits formed this year will last into 2020 with provenance on the mind of consumers not just in restaurants but in grocery aisles as well. Getting noticed as a small, local food business can be tough but giving consumers a reason to buy a local product by sharing serving suggestions and recipe inspiration is a smart place to start. This doesn't just apply to direct-to-consumer food companies, but also to larger stores that stock locally made products. Building a reputation for supporting local businesses by stocking their products and promoting them in a way that inspires consumers to make a purchase goes a long way towards fostering loyalty.

How to approach this food trend in 2021

Grocery retailers should highlight local produce and products on their websites and social media. Collaborating with local brands on recipe content that inspires consumers to spend money locally is a great place to start.

Weekday breakfast, but make it extra

Whole Foods Market is predicting that people will take weekday breakfasts to a new level as working from home (WFH) continues in 2021. We're well used to WFH life by now, but the monotony of at-home breakfasts 7 days a week is an issue and breakfast is an underrepresented recipe category on grocery, food brand and recipe websites. The combination of zero commute and full access to a kitchen means the only excuse for a boring breakfast routine is a lack of inspiration. As workers face the reality that working from home is about to extend into a new calendar year, grocery retailers, food brands and recipes websites/apps can inspire a change in their breakfast routine with relevant recipe content.

How to approach this food trend in 2021

Quick and easy breakfast recipes that are tasty, filling, healthy and shake up boring weekday breakfast routines will grab the attention of home workers.

It's difficult to predict what 2021 will bring, but the booming interest in home cooking in 2020 is set to make its mark on the new year too. Food and beverage brands should continue to invest in strategies that help consumers improve their cooking skills and get dinner on the table in a way that suits their specific needs, with particular focus on the new at-home habits consumers have formed.