Data Essentials 10 Food Trends to know in 2021 and 2021 flavors

Data Essential’s 10 Food Trends to Know in 2021

At the end of 2020 is when we start thinking about the trends and concepts that will impact the food industry in 2021. And after the year we have had, the idea of a fresh start can’t come soon enough.

We are still in the middle of COVID-19 and different variants. It may take a little can mean a lot more, be ready for consumers to head back to restaurants and other food service locations again. They will be looking for the unique and exciting trends.

When you think about your plans in 2021, there are 3 macro trends and 7 flavor and ingredient trends to consider.

Here are three macro factors specific to the food industry to consider:

The Future Chef –The role of the chef has always been evolving, from the fine dining chef’s leading the back-of-the house brigade to the celebrity chefs with their own shows during the Food Network era. Now, as technology breaks down walls, the chef’s role will continue to evolve and become more personal. Chef’s who used Zoom and Instagram to teach classes and answer questions during stay-at-home orders will continue to use technology to forge a connection with consumers.  As ghost kitchens and virtual brands expand, a chef may be called upon to develop entirely new concepts and lead multiple virtual “restaurants” operating out of one space.

Modern Comfort – The year 2021 is all about expanding your definition of comfort foods. For an upcoming generation of consumers, “comfort” can mean a lot more than mac and cheese and burgers --- it can mean global flavors, new brands they grew up eating, and healthy options that make them feel better. Some of the comfort foods that Gen Z loves include ramen, baby carrots, tacos and avocados, options you might not find on a traditional “comfort food” menu.

Plant-Based Evolves – After explosive growth before the pandemic, the plant-based and lab-grown meat industry spent 2020 gearing up for a big year in 2021. McDonald’s announced its McPlant burger will go on sale in 2021, marking another milestone for the mainstreaming of plant-based meat.


Every year we look at some of the early-stage flavors, ingredients and dishes that we think should be on your radar. These options are somewhat new to US menus and retail products. They have the potential to make it big.  Seven flavors and ingredients to know:

Fermented Honey: Tangy and sweet, fermented honey takes a customer’s favorite food in a new direction.

Chicory Root: Chicory root’s profile has been growing as consumers seek out caffeine-free alternatives. A number of innovative brands have introduced chicory options to their menu or product line, which bodes well for future growth. Watch for it to show up in more baked goods and desserts in the future.

Sudachi: This Japanese citrus fruit is like a next-level version of yuzu, showing up in drinks (particularly cocktails) or as an acidic finish to Asian-inspired meat and veggie dishes.

Future Produce: Speaking of produce trends, a number of brands are developing unique produce varieties to grab customer attention in the age of plant-based cuisine and Instagram. Think options like Driscoll’s rose’ strawberries and Del Monte’s Pink Glow pineapple.

Carob: As one time carob was touted as a healthier replacement for chocolate, but now chefs and consumers are giving it new attention as they seek out more health-driven, natural, plant-based alternatives. You will find everything from carob flour to carob molasses showing up in drinks, bars, baked goods, and beyond.

Honeysuckle: foragers have been using this wild plant/flower to make syrup for years, but now chefs and manufacturers are discovering it as a next-level take on floral flavors like elderflower and rose.

Guisada: Move over carnitas and carne guisada is growing on menus as a rich, comforting taco or bowl protein. Typically made with beef, now “guisada-style” proteins made with chicken, pork, and seafood are being menued by chefs.