Top 2021 food trends restaurant operators should embrace
Immunity foods, vegan WOW, vegan bakery, elevated pizza pies among trends
To say that 2020 has been a challenging year is an understatement. Restaurant operators have found themselves in a precarious position as they face increasing amounts of government regulation and take cautious approaches to help forestall transmission of the coronavirus in their communities.
Along the continuum of food trends, consumers will still want to find new flavors and new experiences in the coming year, whether at home or dining out. According to global consultancy Alix Partners, some of the areas receiving the most consumer attention these days are health, hygiene, home, and habits.
Immunity food and beverage
Foods promoted as boosting immunity are “booming,” says research firm Packaged Facts. Turmeric, ginger and orange juice have been highly sought-after as consumers seek to strengthen themselves amid the pandemic. In the beverage category, immunity has been a particularly hot topic.
Turmeric has long been believed to ward off disease and illness. It has also been identified as a top trend by the food practice of WGSN, a global trend forecaster based in the UK. It “contains the functional phytochemical curcumin, which may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties,” according to its Immunity Supporting Ingredients report.
Turmeric has been perhaps the hottest ingredient to boost immunity in foods and beverages,” according to the US Beverage Market Outlook 2020 by Packaged Facts. Boathouse Farms, now a popular, widely-available natural juice brand at the retail level, added a Carrot Ginger Turmeric Juice. True Food Kitchen, a chain featuring better-for-you foods built on a nutritional pyramid, offers an Ancient Grain Bowl, with miso sesame glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onion, snap pea, grilled portobello, avocado, and hemp seed.
Sales of turmeric are set to grow 7.2 percent on a compounded annual growth-rate basis through 2026, according to ResearchandMarkets.com, a research report syndicator. Whether in food or drink, incorporating turmeric is a smart move for foodservice operators as consumers seek out immunity-boosting ingredients.
Ginger, which has long been a remedy for stomach ailments, is another popular perceived immunity booster. As the Beverage Market Outlook notes, Coca-Cola’s new AHA sparkling water is on trend with its Apple + Ginger beverages. As another example, sweetgreen offers a Cranberry Ginger Fresca and incorporates ginger into its Miso Sesame Ginger Dressing.
Orange juice sales have been going through the roof as consumers seek to boost their immune systems. Orange juice already accounts for 44 percent of the juice category. Following initial pandemic stay-at-home orders in several states, Citrus Industry reports that orange juice sales grew by another 44 percent in the four-week period ending April 11, compared to the prior year.
Restaurants can incorporate turmeric and ginger into more food and beverages; the easiest implementation is in beverages and proteins, but ongoing experimentation will yield further innovation. These ingredients will remain popular well beyond the pandemic. Orange juice’s resurgent popularity could be short-lived after 2021; but having orange juice available as a staple beverage this year can definitely reap short term rewards.
Vegan WOW and vegan bakery
As the number of omnivores and flexitarians grow, the value proposition of vegan products has increased. A new trend popping up across menus and restaurants is craveable vegan, according to Kara Nielsen, director of Food & Drink, WGSN. Vegan is permeating menus across categories, popping up on American, Mexican and soul food menus. According to Packaged Facts’ Vegan Vegetarian and Flexitarian Consumers report, 17 percent of consumers are eating more plant-based meats than in 2019.
Photo credit: Charisse Kenion (featured preview image)