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10/20/2020

Top 10 Food Trends Forecasted for 2021 Driven by Radical Shifts in Consumer Habits

AUSTIN, Texas — Hard kombucha, upcycled foods, leveled-up breakfasts and jerky made from produce are among the food influences expected to take off in the next year, according to the sixth annual list of trends predictions compiled by a Whole Foods Market team of global buyers and experts.

The annual Trends Council includes more than 50 Whole Foods Market team members, including local foragers, regional and global buyers and culinary experts, who predict coming trends based on decades of experience and expertise in product sourcing, studying consumer preferences and being on the frontlines with emerging and existing brands, according to the retailer.

The 2021 trends report is significantly influenced by the state of the food industry and reveals some early ways the industry is adapting and innovating in response to COVID-19 for a post-pandemic food world.

"There have been radical shifts in consumer habits in 2020. For example, shoppers have found new passions for cooking, they've purchased more items related to health and wellness, and more are eating breakfast at home every day compared to pre-COVID," said Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, chief marketing officer at Whole Foods Market. "Food trends are a sign of the times, and our 2021 trends are no exception."

Whole Foods Market's top 10 food trend predictions for 2021 are:

1. Well-being is served. The lines between the supplement and grocery aisles are blurring, a trend that will accelerate in 2021. This includes superfoods, probiotics, broths and sauerkrauts. Suppliers are incorporating functional ingredients like vitamin C, mushrooms and adaptogens to foster a calm headspace and support the immune system.

2. Epic breakfast every day. With more people working from home, breakfast is getting more attention, and not just on the weekends. A new lineup of innovative products is tailored to people who are paying more attention to what they eat in the morning. Examples include pancakes on weekdays, sous vide egg bites, and even "eggs" made from mung beans.

3. Basics on fire. As they spend more time in the kitchen, home chefs are seeking new takes on pantry staples such as pasta, sauces and spices. Reimagined classic could mean hearts of palm pasta, applewood-smoked salt and "meaty" vegan soup.

4. Coffee beyond the mug. Java is giving a jolt to all kinds of food, and consumers can now get their fix in the form of coffee-flavored bars and granolas, smoothie boosters and booze, and even coffee yogurt.

5. Baby food, all grown up. Inspired culinary innovation means parents have never had a wider or richer range of ingredients to choose from. Baby food can now mean portable, on-the-go squeeze pouches featuring rhubarb, rosemary, purple carrots and omega-3-rich flaxseeds.

6. Upcycled foods. Peels and stems don't only belong in the compost bin. Experts are seeing a huge rise in packaged products that use neglected and underused parts of an ingredient as a path to reducing food waste. Upcycled foods are made from ingredients that would have otherwise been food waste and help to maximize the energy used to produce, transport and prepare that ingredient.

7. Oil change. A different crop of oils is replacing olive oil in the skillet or in salad dressing. At-home chefs are experimenting with different options that add their own unique flavor and properties, such as walnut, pumpkin seed and sunflower seed oils.

8. Boozed-up booch. Following in the wake of hard seltzer, alcoholic kombucha is arriving in the beverage aisle. It is gluten free, super bubbly and can be filled with live probiotic cultures.

9. The mighty chickpea. The time has come to think beyond hummus, falafel and even chickpea pasta. Rich in fiber and plant-based protein, chickpeas are the new cauliflower and are popping up in products such as chickpea tofu, chickpea flour and chickpea cereal.

10. Fruit and veggie jerky. Jerky is no longer just for meat lovers. All kinds of produce, from mushrooms to jackfruit, are being served jerky style, providing a new, shelf-stable way to enjoy fruits and vegetables. The produce is dried at peak freshness to preserve nutrients and taste, and suppliers are spicing it up with finishes of chili, salt, ginger and cacao drizzle.