Five food trends that will shape the industry in 2021
Based on ADM’s research, the report provides a breakdown of each trend that it predicts will come to the fore in the 12 months ahead.
The company said each of these trends is strongly influenced by behavioural and societal changes that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic. These changes include heightened feelings of anxiety and stress, shifting priorities, changes in social connectivity and adopting a more holistic approach to wellness.
ADM Asia Pacific President Leo Liu said the coming year will be one of significant change and innovation for the food and beverage industry in the Asia–Pacific region.
“Driven by the global health crisis and sustainability trends, consumers are looking for products that naturally contain beneficial ingredients and have a more healthy and positive impact on the environment,” Liu said.
“We will see more transparency in labelling as consumers look for products that meet these expectations, and much stronger demand for plant-based protein in their diet.
“It will be a dynamic market and one in which we look forward to assisting customers meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
The five trends that will spur innovation in the new year include:
1. A more proactive approach to nourishing the body and mind
ADM research finds that 31% of consumers purchase more items tailored for their health, and 50% report a preference for foods and beverages that naturally contain beneficial ingredients.
The desire to influence health and wellness through foods and beverages is creating new opportunities for nutrient-dense products with functional health benefits aimed at supporting immune systems, enhancing mood and sustaining energy.
Sensory factors, like flavor and color, are also playing an increasingly crucial role. Consumers are gravitating toward foods and beverages with bright and exciting colors that indicate citrus flavors, with their naturally occurring Vitamin C, as well as products with familiar, nostalgic flavours during these stressful times.
2. Sustainability takes center stage
Less than two-thirds (65%) of consumers want to positively impact the environment through their everyday actions. This is a key reason why 32% of consumers buy sustainably produced items.
The growing awareness of our collective impact on the environment has elicited increasing demand for companies to demonstrate their sustainability commitment beyond just the end product to responsible sourcing and operating standards.
Specialised feed to reduce methane emissions in livestock, for example, is helping to address consumer interest in more eco-friendly protein sources. New farming practices, such as regenerative agriculture, are being used to enrich the soil, resulting in carbon drawdown and improvements to the water cycle. Renewable plant-based materials such as cornstarch and even seaweed are appearing in consumer packaging to reduce landfill waste.
3. The gut microbiome emerges as the gateway to wellness
Approximately 25% of global consumers suffer from digestive health issues. Of those, 50% claim that it has a moderate or severe impact on their overall health.
The pandemic has accelerated consumer interest in a more holistic approach to health, which includes a greater understanding of the foundational role of the gut microbiome on each individual’s health.
Products targeting the microbiome have been shown to help address specific metabolic conditions and issues such as weight management, immune system support and better emotional wellbeing. This provides fertile ground for food and beverage innovation with functional solutions like prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics that support microbiome function.
4. Plant-based food boom expands beyond the bun
Globally, 56% of plant consumers are trying to eat more plant-based foods and beverages, pushing alternative proteins into an increasingly mainstream phenomenon.
Demand for plant-based protein products is rapidly expanding beyond just burger analogues to new and novel products, including alternative seafoods like shellfish and shrimp, plant-based cheeses, ready-to-eat protein snacks and more.
Alt meat products also continue to evolve, with new technologies like 3D printing and protein fermentation playing a role in driving innovation. New plant-based meats on the horizon include whole-muscle products like steak and chicken breast, lunch meat, bacon and more.
The dairy alternative category, an early leader in the plant-based nutrition space, is growing to encompass other formats such as yoghurt, ice cream, butter, spreads and creamers.
To stand out in the dairy aisle, products must deliver more protein than traditional dairy and feature a nutritional label fortified with vitamins and minerals or functional ingredients like probiotics.
5. Transparency builds consumer trust
Consumers now expect food labels to provide greater transparency around the entire product life cycle. This helps drive the demand for locally sourced products as consumers seek greater clarity on where the ingredients in food and beverages come from. In fact, 26% of global consumers look for the country of origin on food and drink labels.
The quest for cleaner ingredients extends to flavors and colors.
Many seek natural alternatives, whether it be elderberries to give a product a rich blue hue or peppermint and mint to elicit an energising burst of coolness in foods and beverages. Sweeteners such as monk fruit and stevia are growing in popularity as consumers seek natural ways to reduce their sugar intake.