Food trends in the new year
Few industries saw more upheaval in 2020 than restaurants. Just about all had to alter their business models for some length of time. Many closed permanently. Their suppliers had to change things up too, and more of us spent more time in our home kitchens. As far as what we eat, some trends have grown in popularity, while others are emerging. Get a taste of what we’ll be eating and how in 2021.
Direct to consumer
Wholesalers who used to sell only to restaurants will branch out to deliver fresh foods directly to eaters with curated boxes and outdoor stands. We’ve seen this happen already during shutdowns and with fewer restaurants around placing orders, suppliers will seek new methods for getting their products from oceans or fields to consumers. Apps such as Cheetah will help vendors connect and streamline operations.
More home cooking
People who used to order out a lot may have gotten more creative as they’ve had more time at home. With remote work here to stay for millions, and more restaurant-quality ingredients available to home chefs, more people will discover their inner gourmet and try out new recipes at home. Food has always been a way of sharing quality family time and passing down traditions. Look for that to be the anchor of domestic life once more.
Chefs whose restaurants closed permanently will be looking for new ways to ply their trade, and the restaurant experience might remain topsy-turvy as vaccines roll out in different stages. Groups looking for an evening to catch up with friends but not ready to try public indoor dining will be in the market for a fine dining experience at home. They’ll be willing to pay for a special menu cooked by a chef whose restaurant they frequented in the old days.
Plant-based meats burst on the scene a few years ago and have proved quite popular. Though they’re most common in burger form, companies such as Beyond Meat offer sausage and meatballs, and MorningStar Farms has plant-based chicken. This year will see plant-based substitutes for even more food items such as steak, shrimp, and bacon. It’s coming for dairy too, with plant-based ice cream, cheese, and yogurt poised for a breakout.
The pandemic has made a lot people re-evaluate their baseline health and caused others to develop poor eating habits. Both sets will be looking for ways to reset their gut microbiomes with prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. Kombuchas from GT’s and Health-Ade and bars from Attune are quick, tasty ways to ensure healthy gut bacteria are working to improve immune health. Some probiotic Cleveland Kraut might be the perfect complement to your plant-based bratwurst.
All kinds of oils
Olive oil has long enjoyed top billing in lubricating our skillets and flavoring our meals, but canola and coconut oils have challenged that in years past. Now, for flavoring or health purposes, other entrants such as pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, and avocado oil are looking to carve out a spot for themselves in the hierarchy. Different smoke points can enable home cooks to try a variety of dishes ideal for different heats.
In a trend accelerated by the supply chain disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are asking more questions about where their food comes from and what resources went into raising it. Whether it’s concern for animal welfare, water conservation, soil preservation, or any of a whole host of reasons, consumers are willing to pay more for sustainably sourced food. Chains like Chipotle have shown that sustainable supply chains can be workable and profitable.
Making more operations contactless will be a focus in 2021. White Castle is employing Miso Robotics’ Flippy in select locations. “The world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant” can work a grill or fryer with consistent cooking and can keep track of orders with machine vision. Customized fast casual Boston restaurant Spyce allows patrons to pick their ingredients then watch as robots in the “infinite kitchen” cook and assemble their bowls. Meticulous Market Research estimates food automation will be a $30 billion industry by 2027.