Innova Marketing Insights announced its top 10 food trends for 2021. Here are highlights from the November 11 webinar.

Transparency triumphs 

Brands are upping their transparency game to meet evolving consumer demands. Innova includes sustainability and clean label in this trend. A survey of consumers in 10 countries, asking them what they want to know, found product information is of major importance. Consumers want to know what the product contains, and they want to know how it’s made. Innova notes transparency is not only a part of trust but also a part of engagement. Companies with a meaningful story to tell can connect with consumers in a new and different way.


Source: Innova Market Insights

Plant forward 

Innova sees the plant-based trend moving forward with rising mainstream appeal that will drive expansion in new and more indulgent categories in 2021. Concerns about sustainability and animal welfare mean lab-grown foods could disrupt the industry with the use of new technologies. Innova research found the four main reasons consumers consider plant-based alternatives are health, diet variety, sustainability, and taste. 

Tailored to fit

Innova research found 64% of global consumers tailor their life and products to individual style, beliefs, and needs. This places a spotlight on personalized nutrition as shoppers look for food and beverages to fit their lifestyles.

Omni channel eating

Increasing overlap between foodservice and retail means consumers can eat what, when, and where they want. The effects of COVID-19 have shifted this dynamic, meaning less in-restaurant dining, more restaurant takeout and delivery, and more in-home cooking. Cooking is driving the use of meal kits/starters, more sophisticated ingredients, and specialty products previously available only through foodservice.

In tune with immune

Consumers will make immune health a priority. Innova research found 60% of global consumers increasingly look for food and beverages that support their immune health. One-third said concerns about immune health increased in 2020 over 2019. Fifty-four percent said COVID-19 led them to spend time educating themselves on ingredients and other things that can help boost their immunity. 

Nutrition hacking

Eighty percent of consumers believe in progress in food and beverages through science. Technology is addressing the demand for products with enhanced nutritional value or sustainability or better ethical impact. Innova cites examples of clinical nutrition products that have lots of active ingredients. A significant number of consumers told Innova they are willing to compromise on naturalness for a product that fits their dietary needs, although some still have naturalness as a priority.

Mood: The next occasion

Mental health is more important than ever, with 44% of consumers saying they have taken specific steps to improve their mental and emotional well-being. Adaptogens are now promoted as having benefits to reduce stress and improve mental well-being. 

Product mashups: When trends collide

Hybrid innovation is taking off to create exciting products for consumers. Sixty percent of consumers said they’re interested in trying new sensory experiences in taste, flavor, texture, or color. Innova cites examples of the world’s first startup dedicated to flavored eggs. Foodservice is another channel for this hybrid innovation. Examples include a drinkable pizza from Pizza Hut and Dunkin Donut working with the cereal companies to make a Dunkin coffee-flavored cereal. 

Modern nostalgia

Innova sees huge interest in provenance, where products come from, along with a yearning for safety and security. Modern nostalgia is about global trends that get a local makeover or about something that makes the consumer feel safe and secure but is also modernized. An example is reimagining flavors or adding exotic ingredients to a familiar product.

Age of the influencer

The source of influence for consumer purchases is increasingly digital, though television chefs and cookbooks still hold a lot of sway. Even so, 40% of consumers said they don’t believe vloggers, bloggers, or influencers are honest about the products they promote. Innova believes more science-based information is becoming available and consumers will figure out who they trust.