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Top ten food trends for 2021

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

Covid 19 has seen the entire hospitality industry grind to a virtual halt this year, as pubs, restaurants, hotels and bars have been forced to temporarily close their doors, restrict their service or offer only take-out menus to a hugely reduced customer base with people being encouraged to stay indoors.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The industry is fighting back, adapting and innovating to reflect the new ways people will be eating and enjoying their food in a post-pandemic world. Here are our top ten food trends for 2021.

1. Streateries

When lockdown restrictions lift we expect social distancing and gathering outdoors to continue. As we saw in August 2020, in order to accommodate the new rules, pubs and restaurants will spill out onto pavements and streets. Pop-up terraces and undercover barbeques as well as street vendors will prove popular with the punters.

Colourful, easy-to eat food that can be enjoyed outside without cutlery.

2. Gourmet Garden Food

As we take things outdoors, we’re looking for new and exciting ways to cook, using fire pits, chimineas and pizza ovens to create delicious, home-cooked meals we can enjoy together. Gone are the days of a simple barbeque with sausages and burgers, we’re now looking to experiment with different kinds of quality meat and flavour: think lamb steak with charred vine tomatoes and a rosemary and smoked garlic mayonnaise.

And whilst we can’t easily fly abroad at the moment, we can at least cook with all the herbs and spices that let us think we’re abroad, taking inspiration from dishes like Japanese miso soup Korean short rib stew or Chinese bao buns stuffed with pulled pork and a spring onion relish.

Global flavours are a tasty way to imagine we’re travelling abroad.

3. Serious breakfasts

With more of us working from home and not having to eat on the go, breakfast has come into it’s own, with waffles, pancakes, cheesy fried sandwiches and eggy bread taking over Instagram!

Healthy overnight oats, smoothies and super-vitamin shakes are also trending, as people think about their immune systems and staying healthy.

Fresh fruit, seeds and pro-biotic yoghurt make up a healthy breakfast Buddha bowl.

4. A little bit of Luxury

Consumers might need to watch the pennies but they still want to treat themselves to a little bit of something special, whether that’s an artisan olive oil, craft beer or single origin coffee. Less has been more over lockdown, and it’s definitely about quality not quantity when it comes to edible luxury.

Fairtrade & locally roasted speciality coffees continue to trend

Crisps and snacks have also been important, with families spending more time together indoors. Multipacks that lend themselves to sharing and portion control are proving more popular than ever.

5. Comfort Carbs

The food equivalent of a great big bear hug (which we’ve all been missing), carbs have provided comfort across the land this year. Extending our love of hygge, we’ve taken to baking sourdough in our millions - flour production has doubled in the UK and quadrupled in Spain – as well as cooking up tasty crockpots and stews. Homemade pizzas and pastas have proved popular too, with families spending more time together and cooking with the kids off school.

Cheesy pasta bake offers a 'carbs cuddle’ during coronavirus

6. Growing Greener

Eco-credentials are more important than ever, with consumers interested in where food is grown and how far it’s been flown (preferably zero miles) to end up on their table. With an increase in people growing their own and not wanting to waste food, the ethics of food production are now front and centre. Packaging is also a big issue with more and more manufacturers looking to use recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging in response to consumer demand.

Enjoying vegetables in their own right rather than reimagining them as meat alternatives is also a growing trend, as is frozen food and freezing left-overs to save on food waste.

Vegetables like the humble cauliflower are set to take over the plate in 2021

7. DIY Food Kits

Eating in is now officially the new eating out, with consumers choosing to cook for themselves, including ordering DIY food kits that allow them to create haute cuisine style dishes at home. Upmarket restaurants in London, Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh are reported to be doing a storm in high-end meal kits and take-outs created from their restaurant menus.

A study commissioned by Tesco shows that more than a fifth of Brits are now cooking every meal from scratch, compared to just one in eight before lockdown, with over half the 2,000 people surveyed experimenting and using extra ingredients in their cooking. There’s been a huge increase in the popularity of recipe websites like BBC Good Food and Epicurious, as well as blogs written by food writers David Lebovitz, Lizzy Mabbott (Hollow Legs) and Helen Graves (Food Stories). The trend for food boxes that include everything you need to rustle up a top-notch dinner looks set to thrive.

8. Mindful meals

Mental health has been an important topic during the pandemic and consumers are keen to take care of their gut health too, boosting immunity and increasing their physical wellbeing. Fermented products such as Kombucha, kefir and foods that naturally contain probiotic bacteria are becoming increasingly popular. Oats, bananas, berries and vegetables such as asparagus, garlic, leeks and onions are ingredients to watch out for. In the same way, consumers are becoming even more mindful of their weight and are looking to find products that contain less sugar or healthy sugar alternatives like carob and honey.

Healthy take-away food to boost our immunity.

9. Fish

The trend to reduce the amount of meat we consume continues, with fish being a popular substitute. Valued for it’s healthy vitamins and minerals, we’ll see more premiumisation in tinned and frozen categories, plus new ‘seacuterie’ ranges and less well-known types of fish coming into their own.

10. Pantry Classics

We fell back in love with dried goods and pantry-staples over lockdown, stocking up on baking ingredients and pulses such as lentils and beans. With supermarkets struggling to keep up with demand for certain products, consumers learnt to appreciate tinned goods which are versatile and long lasting. Chickpeas are going to be big according to the Trends Council of Whole Foods Market, with chickpea tofu, chips, flour and cereal all expected to be super-popular with health conscious consumers in 2021.


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