Food and drink trends for 2021

Food and drink trends for 2021

over 3 years ago by Claire Smith

​2020 was a year we’ll never forget! And one that forced huge changes in consumer behaviours when it comes to food and drink. We’re all in agreement that life will never quite be the same again, but what big shifts can we expect to see in 2021?

Market research and insights experts Mintel and Kantar make their predictions every new year, but this time the trends they identified were driven by a very abnormal year. Three key themes are expected to dominate in 2021 – Health, Value and Identity:

Health and Wellbeing

History shows that health is often de-prioritised in times of crisis, but Covid has put health firmly at the top of the agenda and is expected to be a major driver for consumers going forward. Consumers will be looking for food and drink products that support mental and emotional wellbeing or create a new foundation for healthy eating. The challenge for brands will be in offering affordable nutrition products to expand access to healthy foods.


Value scrutiny is expected to rise, but this is not necessarily about being the cheapest. Consumers will be seeking a return to the ‘essentials’ and looking for brands that can demonstrate trust and quality. The focus will continue to be on spending time at home, creating opportunities for more Out of Home experiences like restaurant quality meal kits or premium quality coffee to match coffee shops. There will be a lot more interest in the ingredients, processes and people that are involved in producing food.


People are united by shared experiences of eating and food is often used as a form of escapism. As the Mintel report* explains, in 2021 ‘food, drink and foodservice companies will encourage people to use their brands to express themselves and reconnect with their pre-pandemic identities.’ Whilst we will start eating out again, the most successful brands will be those who focus on creating online as well as physical spaces to bring consumers together. Covid has highlighted the importance of communities and people can be united by the food they eat, regardless of where they live.

A couple of other trends that were sidelined in 2020 are also expected to be re-prioritised. Sustainability, particularly in terms of product packaging, is still at the top of people’s minds and manufacturers can’t afford to ignore it. New product innovation also declined in 2020, but will be needed more than ever in 2021 to match the lockdown sales peaks of last year.

We look forward to seeing how our clients adapt to these insights and the new types of job roles that they create. Let’s make 2021 memorable for much better reasons!