- Immunity-strengthening products, including spices such as ginger and turmeric, and dietary supplements including vitamin C, D and zinc will be prominent food trends in 2021, according to new predictions from specialty food purveyors Natural Grocers and The Fresh Market.
- Both grocers also say that olive oil, health-conscious snacks and affordable, easy meal kits will be popular 2021 buys, and that shoppers will be increasingly conscious of buying sustainably grown and sourced items.
- The novel coronavirus pandemic will continue to motivate shoppers to seek convenient meal options and protective health benefits in food and supplements, the companies noted.
Predicting yearly food trends can be a difficult task. But the pandemic has provided a clear boost to products that improve consumers' well-being, both mental and physical, and that offer added convenience to meal preparation.
Natural Grocers' nutrition trends, predicted by a team of health and wellness experts in consultation with the grocer's buyers and analysts, include a breadth of items focused on improving long-lasting health and immunity. These include Vitamin C and D supplements, zinc, turmeric and ingredients with no added sugar. Olive oil will make a comeback in 2021, according to Natural Grocers' predictions, as well as nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, beets and green powders for post-workout support.
The Fresh Market singled out anti-inflammatory root vegetables such as ginger and turmeric, gut-healthy kombucha, protein and fiber-rich nuts, and premium olive oil as on-trend products for the new year. Some of its listed trends honed in on unique products, like its spice mixes, plant-based dairy substitutes and decadent snacks such as Milk Bar's Truffle Crumb Cakes that the grocer hopes will entice new and existing shoppers.
For both The Fresh Market and Natural Grocers, the overall trend is one of healthy, long-term immunity boosting and nutrient-rich foods.
Research suggest that more customers are proactively seeking out healthier options. The International Food Information Council 2020 Food & Health survey, which was published in June, found around one in five shoppers said they were making healthier choices, while around one in ten said they were eating less healthy than before the pandemic.
Surveys tracking at-home meal preparation, meanwhile, have documented far higher rates of cooking at home and confidence in the kitchen, including shoppers seeking out new and more challenging ingredients in grocery stores. Shoppers are also looking for a break in the kitchen, and The Fresh Market and Natural Grocers called out the growth in some of their own prepared meal offerings to underscore this. The Fresh Market's Little Big Meals has a new line of meal kit grain bowls and Natural Grocers' good4u Meal Deals is expecting to soon roll out a breakfast line.
In October, Whole Foods came out with its own list of food trends for 2021 that also centered on health benefits and meal preparation, including new breakfast foods, alternative oils, plant-based proteins and foods that blur the lines between the supplement and grocery aisles.