No one predicted that 2020 would turn out as it did, but that actually didn't mean that food trends came to a grinding halt. I may not have been able to go to any food expos to see the trends unfolding, but, as I predicted last year, veganism skyrocketed and increased options in restaurants and at the stores. There were some trends no one could have predicted, particularly the unfortunate policy change the FDA implemented in response to the pandemic that allowed companies to swap out ingredients without changing the label to reflect it (excluding common allergens). On a positive note, major progress was made in the effort to add sesame as a common allergen that requires labeling! So, in this crazy COVID-19 world, what do I see coming in 2021?
Companies are making more "kid friendly" products that don't contain major allergens
Anyone who grew up with food allergies, or is the parent of a child with food allergies, knows how difficult they are. You constantly have to find fun "equivalent" foods to offer your child or have prepared ahead of the time that aren't the same food item and don't look as fun for kids. This included things like daily snacks, yogurts, Halloween candy, etc. In recent years, there has been progress on the seasonal food front, including companies like Enjoy Life Foods and No Whey introducing seasonally wrapped products that help kids feel included. However, there wasn't a ton of shift in the regular foods we consume on a daily basis. This is changing in 2021, though, thanks to Silk Foods new dairy free and vegan yogurts for kids! I'm personally super excited for these to hit market and (hopefully) drive lots of other companies to follow suit. Having options for kids is important, particularly because those products tend to have different flavor profiles and nutritional content than their regular adult counterparts.
People will continue to seek out small business/minority owned business to support rather than major corporations
Following a summer of Black Lives Matter protesting and a social justice awakening across the country coupled with an economic crisis that has hit small businesses extremely hard, people really sought out small business and POC owned business options this year, and particularly this holiday season. I predict this will continue into 2021.
At first, I thought our "cancel culture" society would quickly move past its shining moment this summer, but I was personally pleasantly surprised that the momentum continued even through the enticing Black Friday sales. Even when people choose to shop corporate, they are choosing to be more conscious of the corporate responsibility the company shows.
Labeling is going to start to look different
There are two major labeling changes you should continue to look for at the grocery store in 2021.
Gluten Free Certification is changing
If you missed my Instagram post, you might not know that the certified gluten free label is getting a makeover in 2021! Starting late 2020, the old symbol is being phased out to prevent copycat symbols that confuse consumers. The new certification will still require companies to undergo:
1. Ingredient analysis
2. Training and Audits
3. Regular testing and
4. A product with 10 ppm of gluten or less!
Look for it in stores! It might take a while to get used to, but it should be easier to find!
GMO labeling policy is changing
You will start to see clearly labeling of GMO ingredients on packaging with the implementation of President Obama era labeling laws. While the laws do not fully go into effect until 2022, they will begin being implemented in 2020. Companies may start to transition their products to support the new laws early.
2021 will be an interesting year with vaccines being rolled out, people will likely seek a "return to normal." But as we saw this year, the food industry doesn't wait for normal to keep innovating and improving! What food trends do you think will dominate 2021?