The purpose of this article is to share the top 10 expected food and nutrition trends for 2021. Credit for these trends goes to Ms. Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD, and I have provided my own spin on her research and thoughts. With the global pandemic ongoing, many people are concerned about both their physical and mental health, and as such, there is growing interest around the world in foods that serve health-related purposes.
Top 10 Expected Trends
Immunity Boosting Foods & Supplements
It is likely that the future of nutrition may take cues from the supplement market, by calling attention to specific ingredients for the purpose of boosting immunity and overall health. According to Market Research, a majority of consumers in 2020 report taking more supplements to support their immune health.
Due to Covid-19, there is a growing interest in immune health and this is likely to be the top focus in the health industry during 2021. Watch for foods that promote important immune-boosting nutrients, such as zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
Moreover, holistic therapies are expected to continue increasing in 2021. Herbs such as elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, turmeric, and ginger are some of the top selling herbal supplements that can boost the immune system.
Foods that Boost Mental Health
Mental health is a major repercussion with the global pandemic. Food can play an important role in helping to improve mental health. Pharmaceuticals can also help, but some have dangerous side effects, so it’s important to tread carefully. In my opinion, I would always recommend starting with food and natural remedies before turning to drugs.
The key to improving depression, anxiety, or stress is eating a mostly minimally processed diet rich in a variety of nutrients to support your mental health. A top priority is to eat foods rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, important minerals, fiber (controversial), and healthy fats.
In 2021, it’s likely that we will see products that contain these ingredients with an emphasis on reducing stress and improving sleep, which is linked to better mental health.
The Covid-19 pandemic has given many people a renewed appreciation for their local community food sources, in particular grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants. It is likely that this interest in localism will continue to grow in 2021, as more consumer support their local economy by purchasing local foods. This is actually a wonderful development coming out of this terrible pandemic. Please support your local farmers!
More and more consumers are also interested in a companies backstory these days, and in particular, they want to know that the company’s they purchase from are ethical and environmentally responsible. Companies that focus on the meaning behind their products will give consumers a reason to favor their products over their competitors.
In addition to localism, diets are expected to shift to more environmentally friendly and sustainable nutrition practices. Some nutrition researchers expect that people will start focussing more on foods that have the lowest climate impact.
As an example, consumers may choose animal products with a lower environmental footprint, such as swapping beef for chicken or eating a few plant-based meals each week. Localism also comes into play here with consumers choosing to buy locally grown farm products in order to minimize carbon emissions caused by long-distance food delivery.
We will likely see a growing push globally to reduce the intake of animal products, but with a flexible approach. Going vegan is not a healthy approach, in my opinion, but being flexible and meeting somewhere in the middle may be quite good.
Trends point to companies continuing to promote plant-based products but also developing products that contain higher amounts of plant-based ingredients. The key will to find a healthy middle ground, because ditching all animal products will lead to poorer health status.
Diet culture overhaul
According to Ms. Davidson, “in 2021, it’s likely that restrictive diets and weight loss programs will fall out of favor as people seek a more balanced approach to health instead.” There is a growing trend in people favoring whole foods and being less enamored with “extreme” diets. This is related to the above topic of flexitarianism.
Globally, more people are embracing nutrition that welcomes all foods in moderation. And another important new development is an expanding interest in other important aspects of nutrition, such as tradition, culture, and enjoyment.
So, the prediction is for consumers to seek products from companies that “strive for sustainable, affordable, and nonrestrictive approaches to health, such as eating a varied diet comprising whole, nutrient-dense foods.”
Due to the Coronavirus, and restaurant shut-downs, many people were forced to actually prepare and cook meals at home. Oh the horror!!! Just kidding! Many folks learned that cooking from home can be a fun and enjoyable experience. Nonetheless, it is expected that we will see a growing trend toward premade meal kits and health-food boxes that will save time while still allowing folks to eat healthy meals at home.
In fact, research shows that meal kit delivery services grew exponentially in 2020 and are becoming more affordable. According to Grand View Research, the meal kit delivery market is expected to become a $20 billion industry by 2027.
Historically, food and supplement companies have not been particularly transparent about their ingredients and practices. There is a growing expectation that companies are transparent and honest about their products. And that nutritional claims are accurate! Also, some consumers will look to support companies with philanthropic practices, such as giving a part of the sales to good causes.
With a lot of kids doing school from home these days, it is expected that many parents will be looking for products that are enjoyable for their kids yet still nutritious. This is likely to also emphasize foods made with more natural ingredients, due to the growing concerns with high volumes of sugar in kids packaged foods.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” The essence of this statement is ever true today. Eat foods that nourish the body, mind and spirit.
Happy New Year!