Food Trends You’re Going To See Everywhere In 2021

While the food industry is always evolving, after the year we had in 2020, evolving seems to be an understatement. For the next foreseeable few years, each trend or reality will be defined by the challenges and opportunities brought on by 2020.

Because of this “new normal,” marketers aren’t just being tasked with keeping up with growing trends, they’re also being asked to keep up with global realities and changes, like surges in online grocery shopping, awareness on social media during a heightened political climate, you name it. During our most recent Marketing Matters webinar, we aimed to educate fresh produce professionals on the food trends predicted for 2021 and share how marketers can capitalize on them to grow their brands. Trends come and go, but 2020 has altered the way consumers behave. In case you missed our webinar, we’ve rounded food trends you’re going to see everywhere in 2021.

Food Trends You’re Going To See Everywhere In 2021

Trend: Benefits-Based Marketing

The first trend we’re seeing is “benefits based marketing.” If you aren’t familiar with the term, it essentially just means marketing the “benefit” rather than the “feature.” In a year when consumers are craving immune-boosting and healthy foods, fresh produce marketers have a layup for reaching their audience. 

Some of the “benefits based marketing trends” we’re seeing are promoting: 

  • Food for Sleep – With all the stress and anxiety brought on by a pandemic, a new market has opened up for foods and drinks that promote sleep and relaxation. 
  • Mood Boosters – What features does your product have that can boost people’s moods? God only knows that we could use some uplifted spirits as we start 2021!
  • De-stressing in a healthy way – De-stressing is also remarkably beneficial for our immune health and something we could all use a dose of right now! 
  • Well-Being – How can your product promote consumers’ well being? This trend makes me grateful we work in the type of industry we do. We get to promote the health benefits of our products without stretching to fit into a specific trend.

What this means for your marketing:

Use this trend to help you rethink how you position and share information about the benefit differentiators of your products. For example, Ocean Mist Farms has done a great job of this by highlighting what eating an artichoke can do for you rather than what is inside of an artichoke. For example, understanding consumers tend to care more about what the product does for them rather than what it actually is.  Ocean Mist claims “Artichokes Help You Sleep” rather than “Artichokes Contain Magnesium” to grab consumers attention. 

Trend: Spicing it up!

Let’s face it, there were some boring nights in 2020, but because consumers are spending more time in their kitchen, Americans have become more adventurous with home cooking by introducing exotic flavors and spices. 

  • There was a 725% increase in Piri Piri sauce sales
    • Piri-Piri (a Swahili word that means “pepper-pepper”) chilis are very hard to come by here in the states, so after some extensive research we found that the closest chili to match the flavor and heat is the piquín pepper. If you like a hot seasoning with great flavor, this one’s for you!
  • Lao Gan Ma Chili Sauce sales saw a 227% increase in 2020. Lao Gan Ma (Old Godmother) is the most popular brand of chili sauce in China.

What this means for your marketing:

This is a great opportunity to tap into influencer marketing. By partnering with diverse influencers you’re not only reaching a new audience, you’re also incorporating some of their culture into your traditional recipes with new flavors and taste profiles.


Trend: Mushrooms, Mushrooms, Mushrooms!

Mushrooms are also having their time in the sun right now. The Today Show, The Packer, Kroger and others have called 2021 The Year of Mushrooms! The Mushroom Council noted that consumers are buying mushrooms at a record pace. In fact, according to grocery data, “mushrooms have been in the top three produce items realizing the highest sales compared to the same period the previous year.”

Between all the new plant-based and flexitarian diets on the rise and consumers caring more and more about products that are good for the environment. Mushrooms have become the answer! 

What this means for your marketing:

Even if you don’t grow or sell mushrooms, this trend can still apply to you! Try incorporating more mushrooms into your recipes or social content as a compliment to your product while consumers are on the hunt.  


Consumer Behavior Trends to Watch in 2021

Consumer behaviors are rapidly changing as result of 2020. Our February 25th Marketing Matters webinar will dive into this topic in-depth: Consumer Shopping Behaviors.

Trend: More Virtual Cooking Classes

We anticipated that virtual cooking classes would be a trend in 2020, but not quite at the level they reached! Due to outstanding performance, we fully expect virtual cooking classes to continue expanding in 2021. This is a trend our industry can easily capitalize on by asking:

“How can we be thinking/cooking virtually?”
“How can consumers experience how-to’s or inspiration with our products online?”
“Are we sharing videos on social media?

All good thoughts to think through in order to elevate your products virtually.


What this means for your marketing:

Leverage in-house talent, or influencer partners, to create and host virtual cooking classes for your audiences to promote your brand and products. We helped our friends at Dandy® develop an Instagram-based cooking class with Chef Todd. During the pandemic, we saw a 154% increase in IGTV views, which we can directly attribute to the Cooking with Chef Todd videos!


Trend: Goodbye Michelin, Hello Kitchen!

Another great trend our industry can capitalize on is to promote more elaborate meals at home. Because people are eating out less, home cooks are looking to recreate the restaurant experience at home. Chef-inspired meals, food plating techniques and garnishes have all been trending searches on Pinterest this past year.

Throughout 2020, we helped Pure Flavor coordinate influencer recipe development. Over the span of the year, we assisted in the shift from “20 minute dinner” pasta recipes to more complex dishes, like swordfish

What this means for your marketing:

Brands don’t have to play it safe with recipe content anymore! We’re used to touting “5 minute recipes” or “Quick and Easy” meals, but with more time on our hands, and less dining out, people are looking to create more elaborate meals in their own kitchen. It’s time to let your recipe developer or influencer loose to broaden the content for your audiences in 2021.


2021 Grocery Store Trends

Trend: Online Grocery Shopping

2020 may have forever changed the way people grocery shop. In fact, according to Forbes, nearly half of consumers say they prefer online grocery shopping.

What this means for your marketing:

With the ease of online grocery shopping, we believe this trend is here to stay. While there is definitely room for our industry to grow in this area, there are several opportunities your company or brand can start thinking through now. Whether you work with retail partners on promoting your product online, look to sell on Amazon (like Natural Delights), Goldbelly (like Ocean Mist Farms) or even set up your own eCommerce site (like Winter Sweetz), you can expect consumers to not settle for only a trip to the grocery store going forward – they want both options.


Trend: More Purchases in the Ethic Food Aisle

A less obvious trend to keep an eye on in grocery stores is to expect more purchases in the ethnic food aisle. Food & Wine notes that while over 80% of Americans eat ‘ethnic’ food, by 2045 the ‘minority’ will become the majority consumer. 

What this means for your marketing:

Knowing that this will be an ongoing trend, our industry needs to wrap our heads around how we can begin incorporating more ethnicity into our marketing efforts. Whether it’s through more diverse influencer partners, recipe or social media content, let’s be proactive to reach a more diverse audience as we move forward.


Changes in Sustainability Trends

The reality is that people continue to care about where and how their food is being grown and we need to continue to care about improving our messages about sustainability and sharing more often. 

Trend: Investing in a Sustainable Society 

People not only care about what you’re doing now, they want to know what you’re doing now that will positively impact generations to come. We know that an emphasis on sustainability isn’t a new trend but the degree to which people have incorporated it into their daily lives certainly is!

Community involvement and awareness of being socially responsible have drastically changed people’s priorities, even when it comes to food. A good product is no longer enough to win over consumers; instead, consumers are increasingly looking for brands that align with their values. With Millennials and Gen Z expanding in both influence and spending power, brands have no choice but to respond to their interests and demands. 

Trend: Transparency

People want to see and know how you’ve thoughtfully and strategically used sustainability to guide your business decisions.

On this note, we’ve seen on social media that our client’s field photography is out performing recipe content, on average. We believe this can be attributed to people responding well to seeing the fields where their produce is grown and creating a more meaningful connection with the brand.

Trend: Upcycled Foods 

We’ve noticed a huge rise in packaged products that use neglected and underused parts of an ingredient as a path to reducing food waste.

Trend: A Greater Effort to Go Waste-Free 

There will be a more significant expectation from consumers that companies are dedicated to eliminating waste and also looking to brands to help with tips on how to reduce waste in home, as it pertains to a brands product. Think about how your content or packaging can support proper storage and food use!

What this means for your marketing:

Simply communicating your sustainability efforts in a blurb on your website isn’t going to be enough. Consumers want to “hear” and “see” how you’re fully incorporating sustainable measures via video, social media, and more. 

While you’re planning content and strategizing for 2021, keep these trends in mind in order to appeal to what audiences what NOW. We’d love to hear what trends you’re seeing resonate with your audiences, share below or send us a note at

Looking for a downloadable list of takeaways? Click below! Or, for the full deck, download it here.