Global Food and Drink Predictions for 2021

Mintel details three trends influencing the future of food, drinks and shopping.

January 14, 2021

NEW YORK—Mintel, the consumer research organization, has forecast three key trends for the global food, drink and foodservice industries for 2021, the company announced.

They are:

  • Feed the Mind: New food and drink offerings will provide solutions for mental and emotional wellbeing, which will create a new foundation for healthy eating.
  • Quality Redefined: Brands will be challenged to respond to new definitions of trust, quality and what is “essential.”
  • United by Food: Food and drink brands can help balance an individual’s need to feel unique and special, while still belonging to communities of like-minded individuals.

According to Jenny Zegler, associate director, Mintel Food & Drink, consumer behavior is shifting to emphasize wellbeing, value and identity, which will inspire formulation, packaging, marketing and more in the years to come.

Starting this year, expect to see food, drink and foodservice brands offer moments of respite through product rituals and formulations designed to enhance stress-relief activities, Mintel said. As the singular focus of avoiding COVID-19 fades, people will make commitments to reduce the health risks associated with unhealthy eating. They’ll be more interested in mindful and intuitive eating.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic has made consumers recognize that wellbeing is a vital concern,” Zegler said. “Consumers will be looking for more products and services that offer mental and emotional health benefits. We predict that innovative food and drink formulations will help people learn how diet can impact mental and emotional health, which will lead to new interest in psychology-based approaches to healthy eating.”

Consumers will want upscale meals for special “hometainment” occasions. Expect to see brands and retailers launch appropriately priced products with ethical or environmental claims. At the same time, consumers will demand more in the way of contactless retail, which will expand to include experiential services. Over the next five years, the brands and operators that invest in seamless retail and equitable access to healthy food will stand out.

“When it comes to value, pandemic-shocked consumers are seeking a return to what is essential,” she said. “Consumers are now focused on minimal consumption and getting the best returns from their purchases. As markets reopen, the pace of life will get busier, and consumers will expect timesaving, hygienic and adventurous convenience food, drink and foodservice.”

The focus on value will motivate brands to be more transparent about product prices. Expect brands to provide even more details about the ingredients, processes and people reflected in a product's price.

In the next 12 months, food, drink, and foodservice companies will encourage people to use their brands as a form of self-expression and a way to reconnect with their pre-pandemic identities. Expect to see social commerce develop as a new way for brands to capitalize on building communities that give brands actionable ways to use their resources, reputation and help consumers respond to important causes, Mintel said.

“Consumers’ understanding of the community has been strengthened by COVID-19,” Zegler said. “Recognizing the importance of connection and support, consumers will organize in like-minded communities for socialization and camaraderie. Food, drink and foodservice brands can take advantage of their positions as common interests and passions to which consumers can tie their identities and actively bring individual fans together.”