Last Updated on November 18, 2020 by Novotaste

As Covid-19 transforms our shopping and eating habits, we are expecting to see a shift in focus within the global food landscape as we move into the new year. From functionality and transparency to packaging and upcycled food, here’s a breakdown of FoodBev Media’s top five food trend predictions for 2021.


As increasingly conscious consumers gain more access to, and better understanding of product information and choices, companies will be pushed to produce information that is clear, concise and transparent in order to promote trust between consumer and brand.

Aspects now being evaluated by consumers include human/animal welfare, supply chain transparency, plant-powered nutrition and sustainable sourcing. According to Lu Ann Williams, director of insights and innovation at Innova Market Insights, “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”.

In order to address the transparency and traceability issues within the industry, manufacturers must be prepared to consider new technologies and techniques that offer consumers insight into the food supply chain from farming and production to ingredients sourcing and product composition. New technologies we are expecting to see adopted by brands include mobile technology, social media and digital portals, such as Cargill’s recently launched CocoaWise portal for food and beverage manufacturers, which aims to boost transparency in the company’s cocoa supply chain.


The packaging industry is continuously changing as it responds to environmental factors, social change and consumer habits, and we expect to see a continued effort by manufacturers to find new, innovative packaging solutions as we move into 2021.

One trend set to develop is the use of smart packaging such as augmented reality (AR), allowing brands to design and tell a story, without the need for physical change. As we move forward, smart packaging will become the digital bridge between manufacturers, retailers and social media, and this new trend will notably change the way consumers interact with products.

Another rising trend within the packaging market is flexible packaging. Using materials  such as foil, plastic and paper to manufacture reusable wraps, bags, pouches and other pliable product containers can extend product life cycles; improve packaging and product functionality; and prove cost-effective and waste friendly.

According to a study undertaken by Markets and Markets, the global flexible plastic packaging market size is projected to grow from $160.8 billion in 2020 to $200.5 billion by 2025, recording a CAGR of 4.5% during the forecast period. Food brands are keen to adopt flexible packaging solutions to build on their sustainability profile and improve the marketability of their products.


The possible long-term immunological health consequences of Covid-19 have shifted consumers’ focus from nutrition and enjoyment to overall health and wellbeing, with consumers seeking food and immune-boosting ingredients that support personal health. As a result, functional foods are being introduced across a wide range of food categories, promising consumers a greater sense of wellness and control. According to the Innova Consumer Survey 2020, six-out-of-ten 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.

According to a 2019 Report by Grand View Research, revenue generated by the global functional food market was estimated at around $175 billion last year, and is projected to reach about $276 billion by 2025. As the functional food market grows and wellness takes centre stage, some food brands have been quick to create functional products that emphasise positive after effects on consumers’ health, which can range from improved cognitive function, adjusted energy levels and mood and balanced hormone levels, to  maintaining physical and mental wellbeing.

The possibilities of functional foods will keep advancing as emerging technologies such as wearable devices, 3D printing, nanoencapsulation and GMOs continue to develop. Sam Moore, global food and drink analyst at Mintel, commented: “Consumers will be able to gain an in-depth knowledge of their biology through personal health testing kits that will empower them to personalise their diets and health regimes. Analysis of these tools will inform consumers of the steps they need to take to address every aspect of their health, including brain and emotional health.”

Upcycled foods

Once residing in alternative food categories and health stores, the practice of upcycling foods – transforming ingredients that would have been wasted into edible food products – is a trend set to hit the mainstream market, thus encouraging broader consumer and industry support for products that contribute to reducing food waste.

According to the UN Environment Programme, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted. Upcycling allows food producers to add value to by-products or surplus ingredients that might otherwise have been wasted.

Already, food companies such as WonkyVegBoxes, Rubies in the Rubble and Toast Ale are safely repurposing edible ingredients – like fresh bread or ugly veg – into relishes, ketchups and pale ales. A new study from Future Market Insights using data published by Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data found that food waste is a booming business worth $46.7 billion in 2019 and has an expected CAGR of 5% for the next ten years.

The mighty chickpea

As health-conscious consumers make changes to their eating habits, we are expecting to see a wave of new better-for-you options hitting our shelves in 2021.

One particular product set to dominate the food market next year is the humble chickpea, a wellness staple appearing in many new, surprising formats. These versatile garbanzo beans are going beyond falafel and hummus, transforming traditional comfort eats into healthier, high-protein versions, from pasta and rice to chips, cereal and ice creams. Kelly Landrieu, the global coordinator of local brands for Whole Foods, says that “chickpeas are versatile, nutritionally dense, allergen friendly and inexpensive as an ingredient”, therefore, making them the perfect, adaptable snack in years to come.

A report carried out by Mordor Intelligence states that the global chickpea market is projected to register a CAGR of 4.8% during 2020-2025. As a result, brands have been quick to jump on this trend with products such as Delighted By’s dessert hummus, Lebby Snacks’ chocolate-covered chickpeas, P.S Snacks’ chickpea cookie dough, and Hippeas’ chickpea puffs claiming their spots within the healthy snack aisle.

Source: Top five food trends for 2021 – FoodBev Media