With the end of the year rapidly approaching (or slowly, for some of us), it’s time for food and beverage industry professionals to make their best predictions about new trends that will appear in 2021.
On the restaurant side, Food & Wine reports what chefs and restaurants predict for the near future. Some chefs are feeling optimistic for the future of dining out: when things slowly open again, they believe special occasion dining and tasting menus will pick back up. In the meantime, while people eagerly await for a return to normalcy (it’s going to be a while, everyone) comfort food and take-home restaurant kits will still be a near-constant thing.
Canned and jarred preserves from summer and fall bounties may make their returns on menus too, since so many people were growing fruit and vegetables this summer. Chefs did what they could with excess produce from farmers who couldn’t sell as much of their crop due to the pandemic, either selling it or using it in their dishes.
On the home cooking side, Today has a peek into what dietitians see in terms of individuals and product lines. The one thing both chefs and dietitians agree upon this year is that fancier condiments making a much bigger splash. Condiments are the easiest way to make home-cooked food much more interesting, so you’ll likely see more offerings of take-home condiments from your favorite restaurants and some interesting new things at the store.
Since many of us are finding ourselves making coffee at home instead of visiting our favorite coffee shops, dietitians predict that the home cafe is going to get more sophisticated as people try to replicate their favorite brews and flavors in their own kitchens. So it’s not just your imagination—that uptick in coffee creamer flavors is really happening.
A big overarching theme in product demand is also going to be about climate change and sustainability. So expect to see many more plant-based items. Vegan proteins will be making their way into not only meat and egg substitutes, but dairy as well. Don’t be surprised if you see food advertising their smaller carbon footprint, either.
But how accurate are these guesses? The Independent published this list of trends that were forecasted last year for 2020. Uber Eats had some particularly weird guesses: it put starfruit at the top of its 2020 trends list. Starfruit. And second? Squid ink. I don’t recall seeing any starfruit and squid ink-flavored beverages earlier this year, or dishes, for that matter.
However, both the National Restaurant Association and Whole Foods did predict our desire for more plant-based items and ecologically-friendly products, and those are still going strong. So based off of what I’m seeing now, there’s some cautious optimism creeping back into the food industry, both for the human experience and the global climate.