In fact, 2020 has brought hardship and has disrupted the lives of people all over the world. Our daily habits and behaviors have changed drastically. With the pandemic, people’s priorities have also changed, with many refocusing on their well-being and health, including the food they eat. Thus, the culture of food and health changed.

The changes have materialized this 2021, and many industry experts expect a big change. So when it comes to food and nutrition, what’s in store for us this year and perhaps next?

Main current trends in food, wellness and nutrition

‘Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food’, as Hippocrates said. The gist of this statement rings true today: eat foods that nourish you physically and mentally. Due to the great impact of Covid-19 on the mental and physical well-being of many people, there is a growing interest in eating healthy food.

  1. Meal kits and home cooking

COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates and government restrictions on restaurant operations have provided opportunities for people to learn to cook and eat with their families. Many embraced these changes and found that cooking at home increases their confidence in the kitchen. It has also become a source of enjoyment rather than a burden.

Mail order meals and kits have also become part of the trend. The pandemic has taught that cooking at home can be a fun and enjoyable experience. Still, with life speeding up again, there will be a growing trend towards healthy food boxes and pre-made meal kits, which save time and still allow for healthy eating from home. In the past year, meal kit delivery services have grown exponentially, thanks to their convenience, healthiness, and affordability.

It is predicted that by 2027 the meal kit delivery industry will reach $20 billion. Most people love meal kit delivery services since most of the prep work, like measuring, grocery shopping, and cutting, is already done. And, most of these businesses focus on sustainable practices, local foods, and cater to diverse diets and food preferences.

  1. Environmentally friendly eating practices

Echoing the benefits of localism, diets are expected to change to include more sustainable and environmentally friendly eating practices. Instead of arguing over a couple of extremes, like vegans and meat-eaters, many will focus primarily on foods with the least climate impact. Diets, for example, could involve reducing the intake of animal products but not eliminating them.

Rather, consumers could opt for animal products with a smaller footprint, such as swapping beef for chicken or eating several plant-based meals each week. Additionally, consumers could choose to buy locally grown and animal-based products to minimize carbon emissions, which is a result of long-distance food delivery.

  1. The Neutral Ground Shift Approach

The days of extremes are over for many people. This year, there is a big shift happening towards the middle of the road.

While convincing a meat eater to go vegan is quite a feat, finding them somewhere in the middle might be easier. There is a growing push to minimize the intake of animal products. It is interesting to note that 60 percent of millennials are interested in adopting a flexitarian diet, according to a Statista study.

Consumers may look to swap several meat meals for one plant-based each week. They can also alternatively reduce the portion of animal products in their recipes by adding more plant-based ingredients. Companies can continue to promote plant-based products, but also develop products that contain more plant-based ingredients and reduce animal-based ingredients to help consumers find a middle ground.

  1. Convenience and Transparency

As the world continues to evolve, there is a change in the way people enjoy food. Although convenience foods have been around for some time, the healthiness and quality of these foods is becoming increasingly important, and brands are expected to be more transparent when it comes to their practices and ingredients.

Many people are fed up with false, obscure and misleading information. Food and health companies have been very secretive about their ingredients and practices in the past. Also, most make health claims with little to no scientific proof.

As consumers become more interested in nutritional quality, there is a growing expectation for brands to be transparent, clear and honest in their products. They are expected to follow the trend by providing an ingredient list that is understandable and short and avoiding the use of controversial ingredients such as artificial flavors, colors and dyes.

  1. Family Nutrition

Adults are not only interested in adjusting their diet, but also looking for healthier supplements and food options for the whole family.

With more kids staying home and attending virtual school, parents are now tasked with preparing lunches instead of relying on school cafeterias. To improve the health of the family, most parents look for products that are not only enjoyed by children, but are also nutritious.

Additionally, children’s supplements could be used for added protection to support the immune system and prevent nutritional deficiencies, particularly for children who are picky eaters. Expect increased demand for plant-based alternatives for children to support their wellness and health.

  1. daily breakfast habit

In the past, students and working adults rushed to their schools or workplaces without eating the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Since everyone is now studying and working remotely, they have more time to prepare and eat regular breakfast at home without worrying about the morning rush and travel time.

  1. Focus on weight reduction

In 2020, many people gained weight due to the pandemic. Staying at home made them eat more comfort foods and practice lazy eating habits. There is a lack of physical movement and sugar has contributed to emotional eating. In 2021, people will focus on ways to lose weight so that they feel higher self-esteem and place more emphasis on healthy, realistic and sustainable weight loss.

Many are tired of expensive diets and supplement gimmicks that promise great results but don’t deliver. Today, weight loss programs and restrictive diets are collapsing as people seek a more balanced approach to health. Credits to more health and nutrition professionals who are building huge audiences on social media, we are starting to see popular, albeit bogus, supplements becoming outdated.

  1. Shift to whole, natural foods

Also, more people are adopting eating styles that accept foods in moderation, as most don’t want to avoid chocolate for the rest of their lives. People are beginning to embrace other important aspects of food, such as culture, tradition, and enjoyment.

Consumers seek products from brands that strive for affordable, nonrestrictive, and sustainable approaches to health, such as eating a different diet that includes nutrient-dense whole foods. In addition, they also look for transparent brands when it comes to their messages and avoid promoting unhealthy diets, such as going hungry or losing weight quickly.

  1. Need for immunity boosters

Food is no longer valued to avoid hunger. The Future of Food and Beverage takes inspiration from the supplement industry, drawing attention to which specific ingredients play a role in boosting overall health and wellness. Covid-19 serves as a reminder to all of us that health is fleeting and can change at any time.

For many people, this led to a search for foods and products that support a healthy immune system to fight disease. Today, more people are taking more supplements to boost immunity. Growing interest in and growing demand for immune health will continue to be a major focus of the health and wellness industry this year and for years to come.

Instead of concentrating on treating disease, many consumers today strive to prevent disease through a strengthened immune system.

  1. Prioritizing mental well-being

For many people, mental health has become a priority. Although food alone cannot cure or treat anxiety, stress, or depression, eating a mostly minimally processed diet rich in a variety of nutrients may help maintain mental health. Diets rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber, and other bioactive compounds like probiotics have been associated with better mental health.

What’s noteworthy this year is that more food and beverage companies have come out with products containing the aforementioned ingredients, with an emphasis on improving sleep and reducing stress, which of course leads to better mental health. Functional drinks in particular that contain stress-reducing compounds, such as adaptogens that could help the body adapt to stress, and CBD or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive part of cannabis, will become more popular.

However, while these products can support mental health and minimize stress, a specific diet should not replace prescription drugs or other treatment methods, such as therapy. Your diet, on the other hand, should be a piece of the puzzle for mental well-being.

  1. localism and background

More consumers are looking to support local brands with a purpose and backstory rather than big business. According to Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer, 52 percent of respondents said they pay more attention to the origin of products, with the intention of buying local.

Many consumers are also interested in learning about the backstory of a brand, like a multi-generational family business, for example. Brands need to focus on the meaning of their products and provide consumers with a reason to buy over the competition. Great packaging no longer makes a product attractive, but the effect of buying it.

The lockdowns and closures gave people a reinvigorated appreciation of their locality, particularly food providers such as farmers markets, grocery stores, and restaurants. There would be a growing interest in buying and consuming locally grown food. Not only does it support the local economy, but overall it’s cooler and has a smaller environmental footprint.

The bottom line

This year, expect a big change in the food industry. The days of unnecessary ingredients, false promises and extreme diets are long gone. Before 2021 comes to a close, more people are expected to eat food with a purpose, a story, and that serves health and society.

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