Trend 1: A More Proactive Approach to Nourishing the Body and Mind
This year has been shaped by a global pandemic. Consumer perceptions have been drastically changed, resulting in heightened demand for foods and beverages that support immune systems. The desire to influence health and wellness through foods and beverages is creating new opportunities for nutrient-dense products, with functional health benefits aimed at supporting immune systems, enhancing mood and sustaining energy.
“Consumers are now making increasingly educated and mindful decisions toward foods and beverages that promote physical, mental and emotional wellness,” explains Ana Ferrell.
“They want more from their food, and are seeking inherently nutritious, functional products that provide benefits like sustained energy, satiety and immunity, while prioritising foods that contain nutrients like fibre, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.”
At the same time, over 50 % of global consumers claim they are currently suffering from moderate, high or extreme levels of stress. Manufacturers can help to support this by developing permissibly indulgent options for mental well-being.
Trend 2: Sustainability Takes Centre Stage
“As communities grapple with how individual behaviour impacts collective health and social wellness, consumer awareness of the connection between the food system and the environment has accelerated, increasing demand for companies to demonstrate their commitment to responsible sourcing and operating standards. In 2021, we expect consumers to make more purchasing decisions based on their values.”
Over two-thirds (65 %) of consumers want to have a positive impact on the environment through their everyday actions. This is a key reason why 32 % of consumers buy sustainably produced items. Food and beverage manufacturers can respond to this shift in consumer behaviour by linking the farm and farmers to the final product, and by exploring clean labelling, reusable packaging and supply chain transparency.
Trend 3: The Gut Microbiome Emerges as the Gateway to Wellness
Products targeting the microbiome have been shown to help address specific metabolic conditions and issues such as weight management, immune system support and better emotional well-being. This provides fertile ground for food and beverage innovation with functional solutions like prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics that support microbiome function.
“Over the past year, we have seen a heightened consumer focus on weight, not just because of its COVID-19 morbidity factor, but because stay-at home restrictions, lack of exercise and emotional eating can negatively impact weight and overall health,” says Ferrell.
“As such, people are now looking for added functionality in the products they choose to help them further manage stress, sleep and energy. ADM can support with this, while helping brands to create sensory solutions that help elicit immediate relief, like the warm and calming aspects of natural ingredients, such as ginger, cayenne and turmeric.”
Trend 4. Plant-Based Food Boom Expands Beyond the Bun
The dairy alternative category, an early leader in the plant-based nutrition space, is growing to encompass other formats such as yoghurt, ice cream, butter, spreads and creamers. To stand out in the dairy aisle, products need to deliver more protein than traditional dairy, and feature a nutritional label fortified with vitamins and minerals or functional ingredients like probiotics.
“Protein continues to be held in high regard by consumers and many of them are experimenting with plant-based options to meet their health and wellness, sustainability, food safety and convenience preferences."
“In the year ahead, we expect to see exciting new centre-of-plate, plant-based options that expand beyond burgers into whole muscle and convenience formats driving category growth and excitement among flexitarians. New developments in the dairy aisle will focus on enhanced nutritional profiles and improved sensory characteristics.”
Trend 5. Transparency Builds Consumer Trust
Consumers now expect food labels to provide greater transparency around the entire product life cycle. This is helping drive the demand for locally sourced products as consumers seek greater clarity on where the ingredients in food and beverages come from.
“The events of 2020 are accelerating this demand for higher quality products that demonstrate transparency throughout their lifecycles. 73 % of consumers globally agree that they feel more positively about companies that are transparent about where and how products were made, raised or grown. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of supply chain issues that could potentially impact the health and safety of both themselves, employees and their local community.”
Food and beverage brands that can create an ownable narrative – a consumer-facing story— around provenance, origin connection, closeness to nature and growers, will lead the way in 2021.
“Manufacturers should be looking to formulate products with closer-to-nature ingredients to achieve consumer preferred flavours, colours and nutrients, while highlighting purity, safety and wellness standards."
Based on in-depth research from ADM’s proprietary OutsideVoice consumer insights platform, this ADM report provides a breakdown of each trend that will come to the fore in the 12 months ahead. Each of these trends is strongly influenced by behavioural and societal changes that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic, including heightened feelings of anxiety and stress, shifting priorities, changes in social connectivity, and the adoption of a more holistic approach to wellness.