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10 food and beverage trends that will accelerate innovation in 2021

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Innova Market Insights innova market insights 2021 top trend transparency
Transparency emerges as a clear winner in Innova Market Insights’ top trends for the upcoming year, with more brands meeting evolving ethical, environmental and clean label consumer demands.

Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends for 2021 provides an in-depth delve into how the food and beverage industry has progressively evolved. As COVID-19 transforms our shopping and eating habits, 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 the focus on overall health and immunity, with consumers seeking out foods and ingredients that support personal health. Attention is now on the post-COVID landscape to explore how these new behaviors 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,” highlighted Lu Ann Williams, director of insights and innovation at Innova Market Insights.

The new trends for 2021 are:

1. Transparency triumphs.

The Innova Consumer Survey 2020 reveals that six in 10 global consumers are interested in learning more about where foods come from. Transparency dominates consumer demand in 2021. 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 diets.

As plant-based trends 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.

Personalized 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 for customized lifestyles to extend to food and beverage consumption.

Sophisticated personalized 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 flavors 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 prioritize their immune health into 2021. According to the Innova Consumer Survey 2020, six out of 10 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 personalized 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.

Source: Innova Market Insights

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