Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel Puts 2021 Trend Predictions to the Test at Specialty Food LIVE! January

NEW YORK — Pandemic-driven cooking and eating at home still prevail among food trends, said participants from the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel during Specialty Food LIVE!™, a virtual marketplace event held January 19-22.

“As expected, COVID-19 continues to impact trends with a record number of consumers sticking closer to home. Specialty food makers are developing and marketing an array of products across categories to make it easier for consumers to make meal planning flavorful and exciting to avoid fatigue,” said Denise Purcell, vice president, content & education for the Specialty Food Association.

The Trendspotter Panel for Specialty Food LIVE! January 2021 included Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, global food analyst, Mintel; Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D., professor of culinary arts and food science, Department of Food and Hospitality Management and founding director, Drexel Food Core Lab; Seyma Ozkaya Erpul, founder, Funky Bakers; Amethyst Ganaway, professional chef, writer, and recipe developer; Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, author, journalist, spokesperson, food expert.

Trends from the recent Specialty Food LIVE! support the Trendspotters’ predictions for 2021 top trends. Here is what they found:

Restaurant-Level Ingredients and Products. Prior to COVID-19, grabbing fast-casual lunch or eating dinner out a few times a week was the norm for many consumers. Since the pandemic, they have been trying to recreate that experience at home with the help of products that offer convenience and culinary exploration. Restaurants have begun selling branded products. And the trend extends to cocktails for an at-home bar experience. While the Trendspotters expect a balance will return once foodservice establishments are allowed to fully reopen, what will last is the convenience of making it easier for those who want to continue to cook at home without being intimidated. Product examples include:

  • Cocktail Courier’s spiced carrot syrup cocktail mix
  • Herb & Lou’s Infused Ice Cubes
  • Sarge’s Shrimp and Grits Sauce
  • Vevi Foods’ Original Greek Sage
  • Watcharee’s Thai sauces

Dining for Social Media. Directly related to the Trendspotters’ 2021 “Eatertainment” trend, consumers are sharing images and videos of fun, out-of-the ordinary products that offer a twist on the familiar as well as some joy to daily life amid the pandemic. Examples include:

  • 40 Below Joe’s flash-frozen coffee cups
  • Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop’s frozen, ready-to-bake The Elvis Cookie Pie
  • Masterstock Edible Dried Cape Blossoms
  • Runamok Sparkle Maple Syrup
  • Yelibelly Chocolate’s Hot Cocoa Bombs

Global Flavors at Home. Products that have been unfamiliar to U.S. consumers are keeping home cooking exciting and range from cooking sauces to ingredients to flavor profiles from around the world. Specificity in suitable usage—how and when to use a product—is an emerging area of interest. Examples include:

  • Atoria’s Family Bakery Naan & Lavash
  • Butcher’s Bunches Ciao This! (caramelized fig and balsamic), and Get Your Guav’ On! (pink guava)
  • Clark + Hopkins Hot Sauces, including flavors of Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Virginia, Texas, Laos, Ethiopia, and Kerala
  • Gari cassava grits from Nigeria
  • Miracle Noodle Ready to Eat Vegan Pho
  • Yolélé Jollof Fonio Pilaf

Values-based Shopping. People are voting with their dollars, especially based on much of the social action that has been occurring in the past year, whether it’s supporting women-, Black-owned, or POC-owned businesses or companies with ethical or sustainable business practices. Examples include:

  • Alexander Family FarmTM Eco Dairy Regenerative Milk Powder
  • The Black Farmer Meat and Cheese Boxes
  • Qingdao Hua Sheng Quan Biotech’s Vacuum Fried Salmon Skins, made with the Omega-3-rich skins left over after salmons are filleted
  • Renewal Mill Oat Milk Powder, upcycled after oats are pressed for milk
  • The Tea Book MighTEA Women of Herstory
  • Twin Engine Coffee, grown and roasted in Nicaragua, they communicate how their ethical practices specifically impact the community in which they work

Healthful Snacking. Snacking remains an integral part of the day even as consumers stay at home for work and school. COVID-19 has spurred an interest in health and consumers are turning to snacks with functional ingredients. Examples include:

  • Schoko Dragee Limoncello Cordials
  • Truffettes de France Mango & Quinoa Snacking Chocolate
  • Virginia Diner Buffalo Wing Peanuts
  • Vegky Mushroom Jerky
  • ZENO Functional Foods’ SOBAR protein bar, designed to reduce alcohol absorption

Plant Based Meal Prep. Plant-based food and beverage sales fared well during pandemic surge shopping and continue to thrive, especially in products that help with plant-based meal preparation. Examples:

  • ESTI Plant Based Hot Dog
  • Nikolopoulou Veggie Burgers
  • Suzie’s Organic Pea Couscous
  • UnbelievaBuns High Protein LowCarb Bread Bun

About the Specialty Food Association
Founded in 1952 in New York City, the Specialty Food Association (SFA) is the leading trade association for the $158.4 billion specialty food industry. Representing makers, importers, entrepreneurs, retailers, distributors, and others in the trade, the SFA aims to champion, nurture and connect its members to deliver traditional and innovative new products to consumers that expand consumption of specialty foods. With more than 3,700 member companies, the Association helps its members through providing information, research, networking, business-building and education opportunities, and recognition programs that celebrate the industry. The SFA is known for hosting the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, Specialty Food LIVE!TM, Virtual Tasting Experience sessions, and presents the sofiTM Awards honoring excellence in specialty food.