One thing is for certain, all those 2020 predictions from 2019 were waaaaaayyy off. Here’s some food trends you might be seeing springing up on your dinner table come the new year. 2021 food trends are sure to be interesting. But, really, after experiencing 2020, it’s anybody’s guess.
This ginormous relative of the fig, the jackfruit is native to the rainforests of southern Asia. It’s been gaining steam as a popular meat replacement especially as a plant-based alternative for pulled pork. Look for it popping up in your deli and frozen food department more when it comes to anything barbeque.
Virgin Cocktails and Low ABV drinks
Mocktails and other spirit-free cocktails are becoming more popular with those who are opting to forgo alcohol in their diet. Non-alcoholic happy hours are even surprisingly becoming a thing. While booze has not completely gone out of style (is that even possible?) the move to low ABV drinks and “softer liquors” is gaining momentum.
Plant-based burgers have been ubiquitous for years now and next on the plant-substitution front will be more alternatives to fish. As sustainable seafood becomes more difficult to, er, sustain, faux options will fill the craving. Gardein already has plant-based fried fish that can make a pretty passable Fish Filet.
Ugly Good Mash-ups
Have you tried apple pie with cheese yet? If not, there’s one thing to look forward to from the new year. Continuing the umami taste pairing trend, look for bolder combos and chefs and product designers pushing our palette boundaries with everything from sugary fish oil to seaweed ice cream.
As we recently reported on, ghost and cloud kitchens are becoming more and more relevant as the pandemic has pushed the restaurant industry to focus more on to-go. 2021 will see more delivery-based restaurants that focus on online ordering and less on indoor dining experiences.
No more cracking shells. Say goodbye to your tofu scramble. These new bottled faux eggs look very similar to the real thing. Don’t be surprised to find them in the dairy case in 2021.
If this is your first time reading the name Allulose, it probably won’t be your last. The sugar substitute, which is derived from corn, dried fruits, and wheat, is getting ready to be the next sweetner alternative. Allulose is around 70% as sweet as sugar but contains far less calories. It also comes with fewer of the health concerns that historically have plagued sugar substitutes.
Those old enough to remember the disappointment of this chocolate substitute from the 70s are sure to be sticking their tongue out now. Carob is getting a second chance thanks to its collagen-production properties and better inclusions, like in coffee, syrups and baked items.
2010s might have been the era when marijuana chefs came into the mainstream. Now CBD is having its culinary day. We’ll also see Copaifera popping up in some natural food options. It’s a more legal, essential oil extract, that purports to have similar benefits as CBD.
Canned wine grew in popularity by nearly 80% according to Nielsen in recent years and it shows no signs of slowing down. Finer wines are getting into the market beyond just cheaper varieties. The appeal is obvious, especially for younger consumers, with small single serve sizes that can allow for finer wines to be sampled without much commitment.
Although the link between climate change and food production has become more and more apparent in the last few years, proactive culinary changes are now connecting the dots for consumers. This means more locally-sourced foods, more foods that show their carbon-footprint and a move to eating for the least impact.
Meat & Plant-based Combine
The lines between being a meat eater and vegetarian are blurring and in 2021 it won’t be such an either or option as more brands intermix meat and plants into traditional meat-only products. Think of chicken nuggets with half cauliflower and beef burgers with a quarter mushroom composition.
You thought you were fancy flexing your almond butter, didn’t you? But look out for a whole new crop of schmears for your bread, including macadamia butter, pecan butter, coconut butter, and adaptogen butter to name a few.
We’ve all had plenty of time to stare in the mirror during quarantine. And now we realize how much we need a boost of wrinkle-battling collagen. Okay, that might not be the reason collagen will trend. But, expect to see collagen added to everything from smoothies to coffee drinks as a bonus feature.
Experiencing the toilet paper shortage of 2020 has taught us all the need for self-sufficiency and that trend will continue into 2021. While vegetable gardens proved big business for our backyards, indoor microgreen contraptions will replace the juicer and air fryer as the gift idea for 2021.
Speaking of preparedness, not since 1999 was survivalist cuisine trending as feverishly. Look for 2021 to include a new crop of ready-to-eat non-perishable products designed specifically for your fallout shelter (or your bedroom). Many come in giant tubs which resemble kitty litter or birdseed, but let’s hope they taste better.
Black garlic, golden beets, deep purple carrots — new color options will be a thing in 2021. If we still aren’t able to travel, it will at least give us a little something eye-catching to post to the Gram. Say cheese with that blue pumpkin.
Expanded Kids Menus
Thanks to social media and everything else kids can find on their phones, they’re getting a lot more discriminating with their culinary options. As parents search for the best choices for their little ones, we’ll see kids’ meals becoming more sophisticated, featuring superfoods and high-end ingredients, rather than just the hot dog and hamburger choices from our childhoods.
With climate change top of mind, new inroads are happening to swap out the massive mammal meat production model for something much smaller scale. Get past the ick factor and insect protein makes a lot of sense in terms of sustainability, ethics, and carbon footprint. That just leaves taste as the remaining question mark. The new year may be our chance to answer that.
This goat/sheep’s milk hybrid will pop up in all types of cheese serving variations, from fried to grilled. Because it has a high melting point and stays firm, the cheese is also on track to become a popular meat alternative.
Restaurants, can, with a few swipes of the mouse, create new iterations of themselves with online menus that create a whole new virtual restaurant, giving consumers many more options.
Family Style Meals
Kids aren’t at school, parents aren’t at work, and everyone’s sick of cooking. Welcome to the need for more family style meals as we get used to the fact that these folks around us don’t seem to ever leave the kitchen area.
Lab generated meats have been promised to us for many years, will 2021 be the year they deliver? If so, it might be a major competitor to Impossible and Beyond Meat’s plant-based trend of 2020.
Fancy menus are out and tablets are in. Electronic ordering will make menus more fluid and flexible in 2021 and also much more sanitizable.
Don’t worry this isn’t about newfound popularity of penis and boob cakes. Thankfully that “adult dessert” trend is staying firmly stuck in the 80s. With bars having to remain closed in many parts of the country due to the ongoing pandemic, we’ll be looking for new ways to get tipsy beyond a to-go martini, which doesn’t feel as special in lidded styrofoam. Enter the boozy desserts that will give you a double shot — sugar rush and alcohol buzz all in one decadent dessert.
Third party apps are the curse and gift of the dining world presently. What new competitors or restaurant-friendly options will come on to the scene. It’s anyone’s guess, but the industry will only be going more firmly within our smart phones and less in physical dining spaces.
Pickup By Design
We’ve all experienced some unique pick-up practices that came out of an immediate need for safety and distance between customers and restaurant staff. Pizza paddles, shuffleboard sticks, to name a few have been used to push food between the staff and customer. Windows have been installed to eliminate the need for stopping in. And this trend will continue as time allows for more streamlined user-friendly pick-up designs.
Food Safety as Marketing
Could you imagine in 2019, a restaurant promo that booasts about safe food handling practices? But alas, we are in a new world and we’ll see businesses lean into consumer concerns. Get ready to be continually reassured. Hey, we could all use it, right?
Chick-Fil-A recently introduced a new mac’n cheese addition to their menu, and although they might not be the purveyors of culinary trends (one can only hope), it does represent a trend that comes from all of our 2020 trauma — we want comfort and the foods of our childhoods, we want it simple, inexpensive, and still relatively healthy.
Shocking revelation right? But it’s still worth noting that many restaurants will go from ramshackle, thrown together outdoor dining spots to more semi-permanent, polished outdoor dining spots that will continue to cater to wary diners looking to remain out of enclosed indoor dining spots.