Innova announces its top 10 food and beverage trends for 2021

Transparency emerges as a clear winner in Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends for 2021, with brands upping their game to meet evolving ethical, environmental and clean label consumer demands. 

Innova Market Insights, food trend specialists for over 25 years, has unveiled its annual Top Ten Trends 2021 report. The comprehensive report equips manufacturers, retailers and brands with the latest insights to drive innovation and answer current consumer demands.

It provides an in-depth delve into how the food and beverage industry has evolved as COVID-19 transforms shopping and eating habits – and asserting that staying ahead of the curve and keeping on top of the changing and sophisticated food and beverage landscape is of paramount importance.

The pandemic has bolstered focus on overall health and immunity, with consumers seeking foods and ingredients that support personal health. Attention is now on the post-COVID landscape to explore how these new behaviours will shape the future of the food and beverage industry.

“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,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of Insights and Innovation at Innova Market Insights.

Innova’s new trend expectations for 2021 are:

1. Transparency Triumphs

The Innova Consumer Survey 2020 reveals that six in ten global consumers are interested in learning more about where foods come from. Increasing transparency to meet evolving ethical, environmental and clean label consumer demands is key. Brands adopting and pairing new packaging technologies such as invisible barcodes and near-field communication technology with creative, meaningful storytelling will be successful.

The consumer lifestyle trend toward cleaner living is broadening and heightening expectations around what constitutes a clean label. Aspects include human/animal welfare, supply chain transparency, plant-powered nutrition and sustainable sourcing.

2. Plant-Forward

As this trend reach global phenomenon status, the “plant-based” definition is ever-evolving. Its rising mainstream appeal will drive expansion to different regions and categories in 2021, including accelerated demand for new formats, plant proteins and more sophisticated alternatives.

Propelled by sustainability and animal welfare concerns, lab-grown foods have the potential to disrupt the industry by mainstreaming the use of new technologies. The Innova Consumer Survey 2020 indicated that the top four reasons for considering plant-based alternatives were health, diet variety, sustainability and taste. As consumers are powering up on plant protein, opportunities and challenges relating to regional consumer preferences and sustainability expectations are attracting attention. 

3. Tailored to Fit

Personalised nutrition is in the spotlight as consumers look for food and beverage options that fit their unique lifestyles. Consumers expect a tailored approach to eating, with technological breakthroughs, constant new launches and exciting sensorial experiences providing the opportunity to extend to food and beverage consumption.

Sophisticated personalised nutrition advice on functional foods is still expensive, but the emergence of tech platforms allows for comparable customer service via automation. The Innova Consumer Survey 2020 showed that 64% of global consumers have found more ways to tailor their life and products to their individual style, beliefs and needs. 

4. New Omnichannel Eating

As foodservice and retail domains increasingly overlap, consumers can eat what they want, when and where they want it. Consumers are seeking convenience, richer experiences and accessible indulgence.

Traditional hospitality is getting edged out, particularly with COVID-19 giving consumers more time to stay at home and sharpen their own culinary prowess. Increased home cooking is driving the use of convenient meal kits/starters and more sophisticated ingredients, resulting in new food experiences.

The Innova Consumer Survey 2020 found 46% of consumers believe restaurant-branded products are a convenient way to attain the restaurant experience and flavours at home. Along with restaurant delivery growing, consumers can now directly access many specialty products that were previously only accessible via foodservice. 

5. In Tune with Immune

Ongoing anxiety stemming from COVID-19 will encourage consumers to prioritise their immune health into 2021. According to the Innova Consumer Survey 2020, six out of ten global consumers are increasingly looking for food and beverage products that support their immune health, with one in three saying that concerns about immune health increased in 2020 over 2019.

Immunity-boosting ingredients will play a significant role in the coming year, while research and interest in the role of the microbiome and personalised nutrition as ways to strengthen immunity will accelerate.

  • 6. Nutrition Hacking 
  • 7. Mood: The Next Occasion 
  • 8. Product Mashups: When Trends Collide 
  • 9. Modern Nostalgia
  • 10. Age of the Influencer 

“The ever-evolving food and beverage industry has seen a significant consumer push for transparency throughout the supply chain, immunity-boosting products and the use of technology. 2021 is a huge year for opportunities and innovation that meet these needs,” shares Lu Ann Williams. 

“Based on our latest Innova Consumer Survey 2020 and database findings, our Top Trends for 2021 reveal the latest need-to-know insights to enable brands to grow, innovate and lead in the food and beverage industry.” 

Transparency did not feature in Innova’s 2020 trends report, which illustrates how Covid-19 has shifted attitudes and behaviours. It’s No 1 trend in 2020 was “Storytelling: Winning with Words”.

Although ingredient provenance has always been important, consumer interest in discovering the story behind their foods has risen further and increasingly influencing purchasing decisions.

Register to attend an upcoming webinar here.

On Wednesday, 11 November 2020 at 4pm SA time, Lu Ann Williams will present the Top Ten Trends for 2021 that will impact the food and beverage industry over the coming year and beyond.