by Jay Kitterman, consultant, Culinary Institute, Lincoln Land Community College
From immune defense to mood management, our food buying and eating habits changed for 2020. It is predicted to continue for 2021 as we are increasingly looking for flavor and functionality in the foods we select. Various reports I found showed we can expect to see new food selections with added benefits to support immune health, gut and brain health, energy levels and stress management. Our grocery stores will resemble the specialized health food markets.
First, there is new emphasis on what we eat in the morning. Our at home daily breakfast because of being home and working from there has changed drastically. Pancakes are no longer just for the weekends. We have become baristas. Despite the long lines I still see at Starbucks, to make it through all those morning Zoom meetings, we are upgrading our choices of coffee bought at the store. One study found that we also are buying new coffee brewing equipment to enhance our coffee making skills.The popularity of beans to brew has increased accordingly and is expected to increase again in 2021. Watch for increased sales of pour overs, frothers and indulgent creamers. New creamer flavors to replicate the coffee store drinks will be introduced in 2021.
More foods are being labeled superfoods, probiotics and plant based. As we were getting used to pro and prebiotics, now watch for “postbiotics.” Prebiotics are the foods for good gut health. Postbiotics are the end products of the fermentation that goes on in our gut because of the probiotics. They can be found in some of the foods that contain probiotics such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. Because they are not alive, they can be used in more applications than live probiotics. Fresh vegetables have also seen an increase in sales with new awakening as we take heart to what our mothers told us. There is new realization of how our diets can impact our susceptibility to disease.
Plant-based foods. Many new plant-based foods will be showing up in 2021. Just as savory, plant-based meat became the hot product of 2019, vegan egg alternatives appeared in 2020. JUST Egg www.ju.st a plant-based food that comes in liquid form as well as frozen patties is one and is even available at Walmart.
2020 also saw the introduction of new premade, plant-based chicken pieces. Watch for NUGGS eatnuggs.com plant-based chicken nuggets made by SIMULATE products. Vegan fish products are expected to hit the shelves in 2021. Two brands are Good Catch goodcatchfoods.com and Sophie’s Kitchen sophieskitchen.com.
Calmness. With all the stress and anxiety of 2020 there is a new market for food and drinks that claim to promote calm and relation. One new product from PepsiCo is Driftwell. It is water enhanced with magnesium and L-theanine, an amino acid that some studies show can relax the mind. I read of another one called Nightfood tryingnightfood.com-a bedtime ice cream with sleep-inducing minerals, digestive enzymes and less sugar. Their website has the claim, “If you want better sleep, why not try the ice cream formulated by sleep experts?”
A new term for me in researching this article was “ready-to drink” (RTD) beverages, primarily canned beverages. Demand for RTD alcoholic beverages has been rising led by hard seltzers like White Claw and Truly. Coca Cola will launch Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, which is their first alcoholic product in 40 years. For the hard liquor category, tequila is expected to continue to be the fastest growing spirit on the market with new varieties emerging.
For 2021 also watch for new cannabis-infused beverages. State laws vary and currently cannabis beverage sales are a small percentage of all cannabis products. Historic brand Pabst Blue Ribbon has introduced a cannabis-infused seltzer. Their first new flavor introduced in California is lemon flavor and comes in four packs containing 5 mg of THC, four grams of sugar and just 25 calories.
Emily Gerwig at The Corkscrew, thecorkscrew.com says they have seen an increase in the sale of red blends and renewed popularity of Merlots. A new product for them and a big seller are Gloria Margaritas. They come ready to drink in various citrus/fruit flavors and are slightly different than the typical margarita. It is a wine cocktail made with agave wine and no need to break out the shaker.
As we are no longer able to bring our own grocery bags and our recycling bins are filling up with restaurant containers, the prediction is that we will take more effort to limit food waste and will see new products that reduce the carbon footprint including plant-based products.
We all hope for a restaurant rebound. Even with limited seating, many people are still hesitant to dine out. It will be a rough winter for the industry and the National Restaurant Association reports that over 100,000 restaurants closed nationwide in 2020. Please continue to order curbside and purchase gift certificates as we look forward to the day we can once again hug (or at least fist bump) our favorite chefs.